If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me what label maker I use, or what label maker I would recommend… I would have A LOT of nickels 🙂
And while I completely understand why I’m asked these questions over and over and over again, I have to admit that I do NOT use a label maker — and I haven’t used one for a very long time.
Yes, back when we first got married and settled into our first home, I was slightly obsessed with the idea of labeling everything. I purchased a label maker from Target (it was similar to this DYMO one) and dutifully got to work labeling anything and everything from my limited array of craft supplies and kitchen spices to yard tools, extra pantry staples, and more.
At the time, even in the midst of all my labeling glory, I vividly remember thinking: “This is taking forever. I really don’t need these fancy labels to know what I have. Wouldn’t masking tape and a Sharpie work just as well and take less than half the time?”
Nevertheless, I continued to label just about everything they would stick to. Then the label tape that came with my label maker ran out… and I realized how ridiculously expensive label tape refills were!
There was literally no part of my extremely frugal, extremely practical nature that could justify the cost to continually pay for label tape refills… and then take an enormous amount of time to type out cute little labels in matching fonts, print them off, stick them on, etc. etc.
So I quit… and I’ve honestly never looked back 🙂
Believe it or not, I don’t even use printed labels for our filing cabinet — just hand-written pieces of paper and stickers.
Now certainly, I have no issue with anyone who loves using decorative labels or a label maker — after all, it does put a nice polished look on things. It’s just not something I’ve chosen to make a priority in my own home and life.
That said, I DO still think there are many things that need labels in order to function efficiently (freezer foods are a big one!) but as I mentioned above, masking tape or any type of white sticker and a Sharpie marker work just as well, cost significantly less, and rarely need to be replaced!
So why is someone who loves organization so “anti” label makers?
Here are the 2 main reasons why…
1. Labels are not necessary for proper organization.
I’m fairly confident that anyone who looked in my freezer, my pantry, my bedroom closet, my bathroom cabinets, or anywhere else in my house would be able to find whatever they were looking for — even though nothing is labeled with a label maker.
I still have my things organized in a logical manner and (when necessary) labeled with masking tape and a Sharpie.
So if you were looking for extra deodorant in my bathroom, all you’d have to do was quickly glance in 2 different baskets to find the one with extra deodorant. It might take you 30-40 seconds… but I think your eyes would tell you when you found the right basket, even though that basket was not properly labeled with “extra toiletries”.
And if you searched our deep freezer for a frozen meal, chopped chicken, or peanut butter cookies, you would still have to quickly scan each shelf — but I’m guessing you would soon realize that all the baking items are on the top shelf, the full meals are in the middle, and the cooked meats and other prepared ingredients are towards the bottom. Then, you could read my masking tape labels to find which meal or which package of cookies you wanted to remove.
In my own personal opinion, there is no way the search process would go any faster if I used valuable time to label every item with a label.
My home is quite organized and I honestly don’t think adding professionally typed labels would help to improve anything except aesthetics (and who really cares what the inside of my freezer or cabinets or storage closet looks like!)
After all, I don’t think my ability to choose the right color of craft paper would be any simpler or more efficient if I had cute labels notating each different color.
2. Labels are not practical or efficient for me.
I realize that “practicality” and “efficiency” are relative terms that are different for everyone. But for me, when it comes to menial tasks like labeling my frozen foods, my pantry staples, my extra toiletries, or my shoes, my #1 goal is to do it as quickly, as frugally, and as easily as possible.
Yes, there are times when I like my spaces to function well AND look visually appealing (like on open shelving or in our main living spaces). However, the inside of my freezer, the inside of my spice drawer, and the inside of my closet are not those spaces! 🙂
There are SOOOOO many blogs I’ve read over the years that are real families with real kids living in real homes on real budgets… but with ridiculously perfect photos of matching containers (that cost $15-$20 each) neatly stacked and organized, with cute little labels that cost 10 times more than my roll of masking tape.
Yes, the pictures look great; however, I can’t help but wonder what happens the minute they finish their blog post, their kids get a hold of things, and real life happens.
Maybe there are some households where every tiny piece and part and Lego get put back in the exact right place — but not at my house (and I would consider our house to be pretty orderly).
Our play areas function just fine without labels — and for the most part, everything gets put back where it belongs.
And although I DO have most of my spices labeled, they are not all in matching bottles with matching labels and matching fonts. They are just in the bottles they came in from the store with a white sticker on top that I write the name on (or sometimes, I write directly on the lid).
Nothing fancy — and no, they aren’t even in alphabetical order — but it works for me (and it’s been working just fine for about 9 years now!)
I’m a huge advocate for labeling things for practical purposes — but I’m living proof that you can be organized without a $25 label maker or $10 tape refills 🙂
What are your thoughts on label makers?
Do you love them? Are you somewhere in the middle? Or are you a masking tape gal like myself?
By the way, there is NO “right answer.” I just find it interesting that I’m asked about label makers so often — and also, how shocked people are when they find out I don’t use a label maker!