Shelf liners are flexible, removable sheets that make it easy to extend the life of any cabinet or drawer. Lining your drawers and shelves protects their surfaces from damage and makes cleanup a breeze. When reorganizing cabinets or cleaning, adding shelf liners to kitchen cabinets and drawers, as well as pantries and linen closets, is an inexpensive measure that will help preserve your fixtures, furniture, and belongings.
Today’s shelf liners have come a long way, not only in substance but also in style. They’re available in a plethora of styles from traditional vinyl to fabric and a host of decorative patterns and textures to give a quick, simple aesthetic upgrade that is eye-pleasing as well. But with so much variety, finding the right shelf liners for your needs can be tricky. Read on to learn what features to look for and why the following liners rank as some of the best in their respective categories.
- BEST OVERALL: Con-Tact Brand Cover Self-Adhesive Vinyl Shelf Liner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Duck Brand 1063853 Peel N’ Stick Laminate Shelf Liner
- UPGRADE PICK: Con-Tact Brand Zip-N-Fit Solid Grip Perforated Liner
- BEST FOR THE REFRIGERATOR: DII Non-Adhesive Cut to Fit Machine Washable Liner
- BEST FOR WIRE SHELVING: Sterling Shelf Liners Value Pack 5 Shelf Liners
- BEST FOR DRAWERS: Gorilla Grip Original Drawer and Shelf Liner
- BEST FOR UNDER THE SINK: Drymate USMC2429 Under The Sink Mat
Types of Shelf Liners
Material matters when it comes to the best shelf liners. The standard adhesive-backed vinyl shelf liners everyone’s familiar with still exist and they work for many applications. But, they’re not the best option for wire shelves because they do not provide sturdy support. Selecting the correct material for each situation protects your furniture as well as the goods that you stash inside.
Instead of adhesive, foam liners have a grippy texture that won’t leave sticky residue on shelves when removed. Foam liners are a good choice for drawers or shelves containing delicate items that need extra protection because the textured surface holds items in place. These liners are either trimmable with scissors or come equipped with perforated sections that can be torn apart to fit the dimensions of drawers and shelves.
Vinyl shelf liners are a bit thicker than paper or fabric, which makes them less likely to tear. They come in a large variety of colors and patterns, in both non-adhesive and adhesive varieties, and are easy to trim with scissors to fit shelves or drawers. Though vinyl shelf liners are hard to reuse, they’re one of the least expensive options, so it won’t break the bank to replace them. Unfortunately, adhesive-backed vinyl can be tricky to apply and can leave sticky residue on your shelves.
Fabric liners are soft and won’t scratch your shelves. Typically non-adhesive, they won’t leave any residue behind. Just like fabric for clothing, they come in all kinds of prints and colors, and they’re easy to trim, wash, reuse. While fabric liners will absorb some moisture if something spills, they won’t fully protect your shelves or stored items if they get wet.
Heavy-duty plastic liners work best for open wire shelves because they provide a sturdy base for irregular shaped items. They are waterproof, spill-proof, and easy to wipe clean. These liners are hard to trim since they are usually made of heavy-duty plastic so you’re best off finding them in a size that already fits the exact dimensions of your shelves.
Features to Look for in Shelf Liners
No matter what surface you aim to protect or cover, there’s a liner to suit your needs. Durability and practicality are key when choosing the best shelf liners, so consider these features when shopping.
Adhesive vs Non-Adhesive
The first and most important decision to make about shelf liners—with or without adhesive—comes down to where you plan to use them.
- Economical adhesive shelf liners tend to give you more product per roll, so if you have a lot of shelves and drawers to cover, they’re an inexpensive option. But once applied, it’s no simple matter to change the position of these peel-and-stick liners, and it can be difficult to remove them completely, so don’t use this type of liner on surfaces prone to adhesive damage, like cork or unfinished wood. Be sure to measure accurately and apply with a steady hand.
- Non-adhesive shelf liners have a non-slip, grip bottom design to keep them from sliding around your shelves and drawers. They do stay put most of the time but may shift on occasion. They’re more expensive than adhesive liners and you get far less product per roll because these liners are thicker.
Liners are available in different textures. Some are smooth with a hard plastic surface, some are ribbed for extra grip, and others are made of soft synthetic fabrics. Softer and grip-type liners are good for dishes, glasses, or delicate items prone to scratching. Smooth liners work well for linens or items that are prone to leaking because they clean up with a swipe of a sponge.
Liner cleaning options vary, so choose one that best suits the area you are lining. Liners made from plastic or vinyl are easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth or sponge. Most fabric liners are washable.
The surface of the shelf or drawer will determine what type of liner will work best. Open wire shelves need stiff plastic liners so smaller objects won’t slip through. Wood cabinet shelves can use flexible liners with adhesive or foam liners without adhesive.
Our Top Picks
With those key features and shopping tips in mind, we’ve narrowed the market to its top-rated products.
1. BEST OVERALL: Con-Tact Brand Cover Self-Adhesive Vinyl Shelf Liner
Con-Tact, an industry leader for shelf liners, offers a highly versatile, semi-transparent version you can use for tables, counters, and workstations as well as shelving. It features a grid on the adhesive backing to help with accurate measuring and cutting. The adhesive backing keeps the liner in place, but it’s not so strong to render it unremovable in case you want to shift it. Crafters love this liner because it can be used on Cricuit machines and for stencils. The vinyl is easy to clean with a damp cloth and soap. Since it is transparent, this liner is best for surfaces in pristine condition. If you hope to cover imperfection or damage, go with a patterned liner.
2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Duck Brand 1063853 Peel N’ Stick Laminate Shelf Liner
A single roll of Duck Brand Peel N’ Stick is 20 inches by 15 feet—a whopping 3,600 square inches of coverage all at an affordable price. The average-sized roll of vinyl shelf liner is around 18 inches by 9 feet, making Duck a great deal when you have many shelves to line. The liner is made of a heavy-duty adhesive vinyl and features a paper backing for easy measuring and cutting. The liner comes in white, which may not look great in dark cabinets but will make finding things in a dim interior easier. And for a basic liner, you can’t beat the price for the coverage one roll provides.
3. UPGRADE PICK: Con-Tact Brand Zip-N-Fit Solid Grip Perforated Liner
The trickiest, most time-consuming part of installing a shelf liner is the measuring and cutting—even with a pre-printed grid on the back. Con-Tact’s Zip-N-Fit is a non-adhesive liner that has a perforated line every 1/4 of an inch apart to let you to easily lay your liner down on a shelf and pull apart exactly where needed. Sizing the liner to fit around corners is also a breeze: just lay the liner in place and carefully pull apart around the corners. Such convenience isn’t cheap, however, with the 18 inches by 4 feet roll running a bit over $10, so you may want to use Zip-N-Fit for drawers and shelves in hard-to-reach areas.
4. BEST FOR REFRIGERATOR: DII Non-Adhesive Cut to Fit Machine Washable Liner
Refrigerator shelves seem to invite spills and crumbs. Cut down on cleaning time with these removable, machine-washable liners. With these, there’s no need to wipe up messes—just remove the liner and pop it in the machine. The liners are reversible too. Use the pattern side for a fun pop of color or the grid side to add a fun geometric pattern. These washable shelf liners also work great in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other spill-prone zones.
5. BEST FOR WIRE: Sterling Shelf Liners Value Pack 5 Shelf Liners
Wire shelving is an economical option for interior closets and pantries thanks to its durability and versatility. Due to the open spaces between the wires, however, small items can slip through or fall over. The solution? A stiff shelf liner like this set of five from Sterling. They’re waterproof, tailored to fit perfectly around wire shelf poles, and easy to wipe clean. Made from heavy-duty 30 gauge polypropylene, the liners are thick enough to keep small items upright. There are several size options available and they are designed to fit standard wire shelves.
6. BEST FOR DRAWERS: Gorilla Grip Original Drawer and Shelf Liner
Gorilla—a brand known for its strong adhesives—ironically makes an excellent adhesive-free shelf liner that really locks things in place. Your utensils will stay firmly in place, and the liner also features an open-weave construction that prevents dirt and debris from accumulating on the surface, while providing a textured surface to keep items from shifting. It’s easy to trim and clean and available in 19 colors and patterns. Gorilla Grip liner is reasonably priced—just under $20 for a 12 inch by 20 feet roll.
7. BEST FOR UNDER THE SINK: Drymate USMC2429 Under The Sink Mat
If there’s one place in your home that demands a liner it’s underneath the sink. This area is susceptible to moisture, plumbing leaks, and spills from any liquid products you may store there. But not just any liner will keep leaks and spills from puddling as Drymate does. Made from an absorbent fabric with a waterproof backing, this liner contains liquids and wicks away moisture. The waterproof backing stops liquids from soaking through, preventing water damage and staining to the surface below. It also features a slip-resistant backing that helps to keep the mat securely in place and prevents it from sliding around. Easy to trim to size and machine washable, the mat isn’t badly priced, either.
FAQs About Your Shelf Liner
Shelf liners make your cabinets and drawers look better while also making them easier to clean. Here are some frequently asked questions about how to use and install shelf liners.
Q. How do you use a shelf liner?
Shelf liners are cut to size then placed inside a drawer or shelf. The liner may have an adhesive backing that will stick to the shelf or drawer bottom, or made with a non-slip grip material that prevents it from shifting.
Q. How do you cut a shelf liner?
Use a sharp pair of scissors or utility knife to cut shelf liners to the proper size.
Q. How do you keep a non-adhesive shelf liner in place?
Most non-adhesive liners have a non-slip underside that keeps it in place. But if you find that it still shifts, place a strip of mounting tape to one side of the drawer or shelf, then lay the cut piece of liner on top.
Q. How do you remove a shelf liner?
To remove an adhesive shelf liner, simply pry up one corner of the liner and peel it away. If it gets stuck in some places, apply warm air to the area with a hairdryer. This should loosen the adhesive and make it easier to remove the liner.