This $4 IKEA "Dispenser" is the Viral Hero of Home Organization — Here are 5 Ways People are Using it

This inexpensive IKEA buy is a clever way to banish your organization blues on a budget

A kitchen with a neutral palette and wooden features
(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Corinne Mathern)

Is there anything more bothersome to store around your home than plastic bags? If you're anything like us, you probably have a loathsome (but necessary) 'bag of bags' for grabbing a plastic grocery bag on your way out to the store. Despite existing for all the right intentions, this solution is not only un-aesthetic, but it's also not very convenient either.

Enter IKEA's VARIERA grocery bag dispenser— the answer to all our much-needed bag storage problems. It's super affordable, at only $3.99, and what it lacks in price it makes up for in practicality. It's the perfect solution to gather all your plastic bags in one place to make them more accessible and help organize your kitchen, and it can also be mounted inside your cabinet meaning it's tucked away but within easy reach.

What's even better is that there are other ways to use this nifty product around your home, with organizing experts across social media finding a myriad of alternative uses you'll want to know about. Here, we spoke to some to find out more. 

1. For socks and underwear


♬ Originalton - interiorundco

In this viral TikTok video by @interiorundco, the VARIERA plastic bag dispenser is repurposed as a closet organization solution to store socks and underwear, and it works a dream. Now you won't need to use unnecessary space to store your socks and underwear, as the dispenser can be stuck to the inside of your cupboard, and you'll never find yourself searching for a particular pair of socks again. Result!

2. To store wrapping paper

An organized space with a plastic bag dispenser holding rolls of wrapping paper

(Image credit: IKEA)

Another difficult item to store around the home is wrapping paper. With the awkward size and shape of the rolls, it can feel impossible to find a practical storage system but, luckily, the VARIERA plastic bag dispenser works for this too. 

'My favorite hack for this item is to use it to store rolls of wrapping paper,' says Di Ter Avest, professional organizer and founder of Di is Organized. 'You can place them inside the dispenser to keep them from unrolling and getting damaged. It's a convenient way to store and access wrapping paper for gift-wrapping occasions.' Even if you're not a pro-present wrapper, this will revolutionize your gift-giving. 

3. To store umbrellas

a light entryway with a brown front door

(Image credit: Nate Sheets. Design: Kobel + Co)

Another great way to use this handy product is to store umbrellas in your entryway, as Di has also done in her home. 'We've used them to keep umbrellas neatly stored by placing them upright inside the dispenser,' says Di. 'This helps prevent them from cluttering up entryways and keeps them conveniently accessible when needed.'

4. To store craft supplies

a wine room transformed into a kids craft room

(Image credit: Regan Baker Design)

If you're a keen crafter, you can use the IKEA VARIERA to create an organizational system to store all your knitting or crocheting supplies in your hobby room so they're always accessible. The small holes make it easy to grab a ball of yarn or cut some thread without having to rummage all the way to the bottom. 'You can use it as a dispenser for yarn, knitting needles, and crochet hooks,' says Di. It works equally well for ribbon, too. 

5. To store plastic bags

An organized space with a plastic bag dispenser on the wall

(Image credit: IKEA)

Finally, the plastic bag dispenser can of course be used for its intended purpose. Grocery bag dispensers can do wonders for organizing your kitchen or utility room, helping you save space and live more sustainably

If you do decide to use the VARIERA to store your plastic bags, however, you still need to ensure you keep on top of how many there are. Don't be tempted to hoard them unnecessarily, and make sure you recycle any surplus ones you no longer need.

'People keep plastic bags thinking they know where to store them and shove them in dispensers like these,' says Ben Soreff, professional organizer at House to Home Organizing. 'However, they don't use them as often as they put them in, and they begin to overflow. The container is not the reason we are keeping the bags, so focus on why you are first of all.' 

As Ben alludes, organizing isn't all about finding clever solutions to house your clutter, but we believe multifunctional organizers like this one always deserve a bit of attention. Now you're armed with all the ways to use one, it might be time to invest in a VARIERA (or five) for your home.

Can't get to IKEA? Shop these alternative plastic bag dispensers

Ottilie Blackhall
Trainee Writer

Ottilie Blackhall is a master’s Magazine Journalism student at City, University of London. After graduating from the University of Edinburgh, with a degree in English Literature and History of Art, she decided to pursue her love of writing and develop her passion for writing about literature and art. Having started a book review blog during lockdown, at City she is working on her portfolio.