Reclaim your junk drawer: Five steps to get it organized

A junk drawer can seem like a helpful storage space, but in reality it’s usually not. That is probably because all drawers with the “junk drawer” moniker house a lot of the stuff that doesn’t have a proper storage space or is clutter. Lots of miscellaneous things get added to the drawer, and because you can close the drawer, it’s easy to to leave it cluttered — until you start frantically searching for something that you need. Sadly, this poor experience doesn’t improve your life or home in any way.

When free of clutter and organized well, though, junk drawers can be the one of the most useful, non-junky storage areas in your home. They can transform from junk drawers into utility drawers. These drawers can hold things that are used frequently (pens, notepads) or items that you need at specific moments (picture hanging kit), and do so in a way that adds utility to your space. Don’t let your junk drawers languish. Unclutter them. Reclaim them. Turn them into areas that let you easily find what you need.

Follow these five steps to get started:

  1. Determine what’s inside your junk drawer. The first step will be to see exactly what is living in there. Sometimes, there is such a huge variety of things stored in the drawer that you may not know where to begin. So, try starting with an easy step. Remove things that are obviously trash or don’t belong. When you start with things that are easily trash, the uncluttering process will seem less daunting.
  2. Categorize your items. Dump all the non-obviously-trash items out of the drawer onto a flat surface, like a table. Next, group your items into categories (tools, office supplies, keys, etc.) by putting like objects together. If you have multiples of items, can you get rid of any duplicates? You may want to keep multiple pens, for example, but those without ink or that are dried out can be tossed in the trash.
  3. Decide what will be kept in the drawer. This is a great time to think about the things you do want to keep in the drawer. What you put inside will depend on the items you need to have available near where the drawer resides. For each of us, this can be different. There are no right or wrong items to keep, however, they should be things you need and they should be easy to access. You shouldn’t have to dig through the drawer to get what you need.
  4. Use dividers and containers. Just as you sorted like items together when you were uncluttering unnecessary objects from your drawer, you’ll want to keep these items together in your new utility drawer. Drawer organizers (like these from Rubbermaid) can work well, but you probably already have containers that you can use, like ice cube trays, resealable bags, plasticware, or even baby food jars.
  5. Don’t put anything in the uncluttered drawer that doesn’t belong. Once the drawer is organized, you’ll have to stick with the plan and not put anything into the utility drawer that doesn’t belong in there. Be ruthless. Unless there’s a section of the drawer designated for a specific item(s), don’t put clutter into your drawer. It’s also a good idea to check the drawer every couple of months to make sure that it’s still organized and that no stray things made their way inside your utility drawer.

8 Comments for “Reclaim your junk drawer: Five steps to get it organized”

  1. posted by Thrift Store Mama on

    When I re-organize my junk drawer, I find it better to use a collection of plastic “tupperware” containers or small dishes.

  2. posted by Monica on

    I need to conquer mine. We have two. We have a small “bar area” in the hallway but, because it’s not used as a bar, it’s the catch all space and the drawers are filled to the brim with things, random things. I know I must conquer it but I have not been brave enough.

    Today, today!!!!

  3. posted by John Hritz on

    Similar to the Japanese 5S process used in manufacturing plants:

  4. posted by Jodi on

    I’ve never had a junk drawer, and the concept fascinates/confuses me. How do you define a “junk drawer” if you know what’s in it? Wouldn’t a drawer with pens/pencils/paperclips etc. be an office supply drawer? Or if it has scissors, thread, picture hanging kit, etc. wouldn’t that be a craft drawer?

  5. posted by Ann on

    Jodi – Thank you! If you categorize what is in the drawer, it is no longer the junk drawer. I don’t know…I think every house needs a drawer for Junk…so that the junk doesn’t sit on the counter. I am not opposed to periodic cleanings and relocation of items that have found themselves in the junk drawer – like the multiple plug that should be in the tools or electrical area (depending on your level of organization) – but I would rather have a junk drawer than see the no longer used light timer in a corner of my kitchen until I send it to the garage…

  6. posted by A Bit of Brooklyn on

    Ah yes, the junk drawer. Like these tips a lot!

  7. posted by Portable Storage DC on

    Great ideas to organize the junk drawers.

  8. posted by Irkitated on

    Every household has an unorganized mess that is otherwise known as the junk drawer. It is the place where the things that could one day be useful go to die a slow and dusty death.

    But it is time to sit up and pay attention because apparently now your junk drawer can cause your house to go up in flames!

    Read about my own junk drawer experience here

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