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How to Organize the Inside of Your Purse

Updated on October 8, 2012
My purse- prior to organizing.
My purse- prior to organizing. | Source

Organizing a purse is one of those tasks that a woman loves to do, but can never quite figure out how to keep it all clean and clutter free on a day to day basis. After all, our purses are often a dumping ground for all things necessary and important while we are on the go. Who has time to put a receipt in just the right spot when there are 500 other people in line behind you?

Then of course, there is the problem of purse buying. Many women like to change purses like they change underwear. Because each bag is different, it turns into the haphazard "dump" from one bag to the next.

If you are a Mom who uses your purse as the be all of emergency necessities, is it even possible to keep it organized?

Yes it is. Here's how.

Don't fall into the trap of the micro-organized purse

You know what I am talking about. You go to the store to find a bag with just the right size pockets and containers, and get excited when you find one that seems to have thought of every possibility. Those micro organized purses may be okay in theory, but if you ever carry anything other than your absolute necessities, you might get stuck. What about if you need to bring things like a:

  • Water bottle
  • Folder of papers
  • A snack and sippy cup

These might not be everyday items, but it is annoying to have to get another whole bag just for the extraneous stuff. When you realize the micro-organized purse doesn't work, you go to the opposite extreme: The "Dumping Mary Poppins" bag.

The purse that eats everything

Those giant oversized purses are scary. Not only do you lose things, but suddenly- reaching your hand into a cavernous bag with a never ending bottom starts to feel hazardous. You start pulling out petrified gum, a half used bandaid, or a receipt from 5 years ago that chronicled your shoe buying binge. This isn't fun and usually leads a lady back to micro-organization.

The key is to find a method that takes the best of both worlds and mix them together.

A purse in a purse

This is my favorite method. First, pick out a purse that is large enough to handle the occasional "extras". Here is my go-to purse. It is big, but not shoulder-breaking enormous. It has a few key pockets but lots of room at the same time.

My main purse

Just big enough.
Just big enough. | Source

Create "mini-purses" or organizers that fit in your big bag

Don't go too crazy or you'll never be able to keep up. But you want to get a few smaller organizers to categorize your things. Once you do this, they can all go into the big bag. This way, if you are going out for the evening, you can just grab the "mini-purse" you need out of your big one and stuff it in a clutch. Here are some of my mini-organizers that go into the big purse.

Coupons and shopping


First aid and toiletries


Wallet and money

Click thumbnail to view full-size

I keep all coupons (for grocery and otherwise), along with my store credit cards, grocery store savings cards, and any other shopping related items I might need. Throw a few scraps of paper and a pencil so you can jot things down if you need to.

Toiletries and first aid
You'd be amazed what fits in here. I want to know that when I grab this little organizer, I have the essentials I need. I keep:

  • bandaids
  • cough drops
  • medicine
  • tampons
  • chap stick
  • nail clippers
  • hand lotion
  • wet wipes
  • elastic bands
  • eye gel
  • makeup
  • an extra pair of earrings
  • sleep meds
  • xtra toothbrush and toothepaste

I keep my change, cash, credit cards, and other cards (library, movie rental, health insurance, etc.) in here. I also use it for obvious things like license, social security card, etc. When I know I'm going somewhere that I don't want to be afraid of losing it, I just take this organizer out (minus some cash, license and credit card).

Since I don't use this that much, I keep my checkbook separate from my wallet. It holds deposit and withdrawal slips, checks, and important receipts. I also keep a pen handy.

With just a few smaller organizers, you can reach in your purse for anything you need without having to dig. When it is time for a night on the town, just grab the organizers you'll need and leave the rest at home. This way, you can easily transfer important items in between different bags.


Bigger items that I let float in the main purse

With bigger items, they are less likely to get lost. You can use the fancy organizers on your main bag to hold the larger items that don't fit into one of your mini categories. In my purse, I have:

  • Flashlight
  • Vaseline
  • Big thing of keys
  • iPhone
  • Purell
  • Pens
  • Bluetooth (with its own little case)
  • Hanker-chief (for pulling hair back on a bad day)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My four mini-purses.See how nicely they fit in my big bag?Using the other pockets to keep my free floating stuff.Keys in the front.Purell for the kiddos.
My four mini-purses.
My four mini-purses. | Source
See how nicely they fit in my big bag?
See how nicely they fit in my big bag? | Source
Using the other pockets to keep my free floating stuff.
Using the other pockets to keep my free floating stuff. | Source
Keys in the front.
Keys in the front. | Source
Purell for the kiddos.
Purell for the kiddos. | Source

This is the only method I've found that works for people like me who hate to jump through any hoops, even if it is for the sake of organization. With this method, I still have room in my purse for extra things, as well as the ability to easily lighten the load if I don't need it all in a given day.

When I want to get a new purse, rearranging only takes minutes!

All set and ready to go!
All set and ready to go! | Source

About the Author

Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer and mom of three. She is a chronic purse collector and finally found a system that works! Are you interested in Hubpages? Sign up and you can publish your first article today!


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    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 

      6 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      I feel proud I am a recovering big-purse gal but recently I have down-sized and have incorporated the purse in a purse method. I sometimes still panic because I can't take my entire house with me when I go out but I am getting better, I really found this hub useful thanks.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 

      6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      For the longest time I stayed away from purses... I always said purses were to girly... so what I did was carry my important cards in my back pocket. Sure, I still had a purse, I just never ever used it. This of course can go back to my military days. I mean - have you ever seen a woman in uniform carrying a purse? Not usually! And for me that translated to the outside world. Since I have had kids, I do have purses. I think in my lifetime, I have bought one... the rest have all been presents. I have the big ones and the small ones... but let me tell you, the big purses are a godsend. When I went to Vegas - I put my flip flops in there. How awesome is that. However, I still don't put a jar of vaseline in my purse! ;)

    • semperdivina profile image

      Semper Divina 

      6 years ago from Jacksonville, NC

      I did the purse inside of a purse for small scraps of paper and receipts - really cuts down on the clutter.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, obviously I don't have a purse. Having said that, I believe in supporting Hubbers even if they write something that doesn't apply to me, so good job Julie!

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      As a guy I don't have a handbag, but I do have a shoulder bag. Transferable concept. Voted up and useful and shared with my wife, who will probably hit me over the head with it when I do..

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      6 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Great hub! Good advice!

    • penlady profile image


      6 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      Next time I organize my purse, I'm turning on my computer and reading your hub on how to organize it. Great hub, Julie! Voted up and interesting.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      6 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Fantastic hub Julie. You've given me the urge to organize my purse! :D

      Voted up and shared!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I should pass this info to my mom; she always scrambles around her purse to try to find the keys! Great information, Julie!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      LOL--I've been through all of those phases. However, when my kids were in school, and I no longer had to worry about snacks, diapers, etc. I went purse-free, and traveled like a guy: if it didn't fit in my jeans pockets, it stayed home.

      Later on, I again needed purse, when I got a job where I couldn't wear my comfy jeans.

      But--the very worst big-dump-purse story goes back to when I was in junior high school (called 'middle school' these days), and HUGE purses were all the rage. One day, for whatever reason, I did not eat the grapes my mom had put in my lunch..planning to save them for after school, I suppose. Well, naturally, I put them in my purse. Also naturally, kid-like, I totally forgot about them. Down, down, down, they migrated to the bottom of the bag. It was probably a couple of weeks later that I opened my purse in class, and smelled the unmistakable scent of a wine cellar. (Yes, I had been on winery tours with my parents, which was allowed even if too young to drink the samples--so I did know what that smell was like.)

      I hunted through the bag, wondering why it smelled like that, and behold, way in the bottom, was the plastic baggie of by now well-crushed grapes!

      At this point in my life, I once again prefer to go hands-free, and after having a purse stolen a few years ago, I said, "never again." I now carry a belt pouch/fanny pack that straps around my waist with a buckle, so it cannot be set down and swiped, forgotten, misplaced, etc., and my hands are free for my cane and still have a free hand.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Your method is much better than just dumping all items onto the bed, sorting through to pick out the junk (for throwing away) and dumping everything leftover into the other purse!

      Voted Up++


    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      OMG!!! You've seen the inside of my purse!!

      Thank you soooo much for this. You'd think at my age, I'd have come up with a plan.....I was recently looking online for the perfect purse....with 10 zipper compartments, 6 hiding places, made of strong material and just the right length strap......but not TOO big!! That purse has not been made yet! This is way UP and shared!!

    • carter06 profile image


      6 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Great job here Julie...surely organizing our bags have to be one of lifes most annoying past times right?? So good to read you're always useful and inviting hubs...lot's of votes & shared...cheers

    • CarlySullens profile image

      Carly Sullens 

      6 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      WOW, so many good ideas. I love your photo. I was studying it to get an idea of what you keep in your purse. I am a small purse kind of girl. I used to carry everything, no I only carry the essentials. Great Hub, voted up across the board.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      Wow, this is great for someone like me who never can find anything (yup back to losing those damn keys, lol!!). Seriously where were you last week!! Thanks, I have pinned this to refer to, tweeted, shared and voted up too!!

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 

      6 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      I've just given up organizing my's a complete mess. Every time I sort it out, it just gets messed up again. But, I'm so happy to have come across your hub. What a brilliant idea! I'll give it a try - I do have a few smaller bags lying around that will work perfectly. Great job! :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Organizing my purse is one thing I dread. But your tips- especially the one about putting a purse inside of a purse is awesome. My purse is sizable but not suitcase big like the ones you were talking about. Great hub!


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