What’s in your junk drawer?

Many people seem to have a kitchen junk drawer, and these drawers hold a wide variety of stuff. If not in the kitchen, the drawer full of random stuff might be in a utility room or a hallway or a desk. Usually, they’re filled with a few things you need but those things could be surrounded with clutter.

Most items found in junk drawers can be classified into a few categories:

True junk

Becky Harris at Houzz.com wrote that she got rid of these things recently from her junk drawer:

  • Eyeglasses with hideous frames from about 20 prescriptions ago
  • Hardened Liquid Paper (I don’t even have any use for Liquid Paper anymore)
  • 5 sets of Delta Airlines headsets
  • 6 inches of carpet tape, which is perhaps enough to use on a dollhouse area rug.
  • Packaging and headphones for every iPhone and iPod I have ever owned, including some that are no longer in my possession.

An online discussion at Chow.com of junk drawer contents inspired someone else to do a cleanout. She got rid of these items, among others:

  • Halloween cookie cutters (I never really make shaped cookies)?
  • a blunt breadknife with a melted handle

If you take the time to remove the pure junk, you can then consider giving your junk drawer a new name. Laura Gaskill suggested the “really useful stuff” drawer in a post she wrote for Houzz, organizer Monica Ricci calls it the utility drawer, and Becky Harris calls it the catch-all drawer.

Random useful stuff

As commenter Nicole wrote on Be More With Less:

I organized my former junk drawer a few years ago and now it’s the useful drawer. I keep markers, scissors, tape, little screwdrivers, chip clips, that rubber thing you use to open jars, and the manuals for my small appliances (rice cooker, for instance) in there.

Other common things include batteries, binder clips, coins, coupons, gum, hair elastics, matches, postage stamps, reading glasses, receipts being held onto until it’s clear the items won’t need to be returned, rubber bands, sticky notes, and a tape measure.

Some of that random useful stuff might better be kept somewhere else — you probably shouldn’t keep any papers in the junk drawer, for example — but that’s a personal choice.


The Junk Drawer Project asks participants: “What is your fondest memory surrounding an object in your junk drawer?” The answers show that many people choose to keep bits of memorabilia in their junk drawers.

Marie Irma Matutina said: “I have a bunch of new and used birthday candles, some with glitter, some are alphabets or numbers and they remind me of all the great parties, get togethers and gatherings I’ve had over the years with really great friends.”

And Leah Jackson said: “A birthday card from my mom that I can’t seem to get rid of.”

Other people mentioned cards and candles, too.

Odds and ends

I relate to Michelle W., who said this in another discussion of junk drawer contents: “My junk drawer is full of things I am hiding from the cats — rubber bands, bread bag ties, hairbands, etc.”

And then there’s Randy, who said the oldest thing in his junk drawer is a harmonica. “It just feels wrong to get rid of a harmonica, so it sits there mocking me because I never learned to play it.”

Your individual junk drawers

Erin Thompson, who maintains The Junk Drawer Project, was interviewed by Jillian Steinhauer about the project:

I started asking my friends about their junk drawers and quickly realized that the way that people curated their own junk drawer totally made sense for their personalities. I am finding that you can learn a lot about a person by way of their junk drawer.

What might your junk drawer say about you? If you don’t like the answer — or if your junk drawer just isn’t working right for you any more — maybe it’s worth spending a bit of time to make a change.

10 Comments for “What’s in your junk drawer?”

  1. posted by E.T. on

    I recently read a funny comment about the junk drawer in an article about de-cluttering (sorry I don’t have the magazine details), but the article, after devoting most of the discussion to the usual home areas that need de-cluttering with the exception of the junk drawer, it concludes by stating; We haven’t brought up the “junk drawer” because after all…is nothing sacred?” I got a good chuckle out of that one.

    Being a faithful “Unclutterer” , I don’t keep a lot of random things in my junk drawers. I have two. One is more of a utility drawer with small tools, tape, tape measure, thumb tacks, nails and screws, exact-o knife, etc. The other one is very small and has pens and markers, note paper, the key to the community pool, and restaurant menus, and the random weird item or two. I must say, I truly love my “junk drawers”.

  2. posted by Nicole on

    Oh wow, that comment you quoted looked familiar, and then I realized I had made it! I’m happy to say my former junk drawer is still as organized as it was three years ago when I made that comment. 🙂

  3. posted by Pat Reble on

    I read somewhere that there is a junk drawer in every room of the house. I was offended when I read that and thought, “No way!” But it’s true! It may not be a whole drawer, perhaps just a basket or a tray, but there’s a dumping ground for homeless stuff in practically every room. And that’s the reason – because the stuff that goes in them is homeless. There will always be some items whose “home” IS the junk drawer. So I’ve learned to live with it and declutter them regularly. Sigh.

  4. posted by EngineerMom on

    Pat – We definitely have the “misc.” box/tray/drawer/shelf in every room in our apartment. It’s been like that in every place we’ve lived – three time zones in 6.5 years of marriage!

    I think it’s actually a good way of dealing with the unpredictability of life in general – a good place to toss things when you need to clean up quickly, and then when you have the leisure time, to declutter and re-home some of the items.

    For us, frequently-used items just hang out on our “junk tray” in the kitchen, like the battery charger for the AA batteries that go in EVERYTHING. I’m ok with that, since it means I know where the batteries are, and the location is convenient enough that the charger and batteries always get put away where I can find them. If it was a drawer in a closet somewhere, they’d never end up back there!

    I think there’s a fine line between a junk drawer and a home for miscellaneous items. Our silverware drawer, in addition to the silverware its sorter tray, also contains rubber bands, twisty ties, wine saver stoppers, the wine saver, the vegetable peeler, two large-ish knives (one in a cover, the other positioned so it doesn’t get dulled, neither of which fit in our knife block), a citrus peeler, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and my 5-year-old son’s paring knife (he can’t reach the knife block). Not exactly strictly a “silverware” drawer, and with the rubber bands, it sort of strikes me as a junk drawer, but it’s not really that, either. With very limited kitchen storage space, there are some rather strange bedfellows in our kitchen, but where else would I put such things? In there is also the small plastic ball that broke off the speed control handle of our stand mixer, and a few other odds and ends.

    I think junk drawers are kind of like bookshelves – to each his own, organized or not.

  5. posted by Christy King on

    My junk drawer has basic tools (hammer, pliers, screwdriver), tape, pens and pencils, rubber bands and clips. Oh, and super glue. It doesn’t bother me to call it the “junk drawer” although I think everything in it is useful.

  6. posted by Pat Reble on

    EngineerMom, you have described it perfectly – the “everything” drawer that can become a junk drawer if not carefully watched! It’s the dynamic area of a room where (hopefully) everything else has its place, and as such can grow and change for better or for worse. I find that calling it the junk drawer is a timely reminder to myself of what it can become if the beast goes untamed.

  7. posted by Allison on

    I don’t even have a junk drawer. I wonder what that says about me? lol The closest I have is a small metal tray (about 6″x6″x1″) I made in grade 7 or 8. It has bike lock keys, erasers, magnets, my swiss army knife, nail files, and other assorted crap. At least I’m not wasting an entire drawer to junk?

    I think it’s because 1) my computer desk has now drawers, and 2) until we redid our kitchen a couple of years ago, it had exactly one drawer, so I never got into the junk drawer habit.

  8. posted by Lori on

    I cleaned out my junk drawer a little over a year ago and tossed out things I never knew I had such as pamphlets for dream vacations that will never happen, instructions for housewares I no longer own, old glasses, bits and pieces of pencils, old erasers, a hodge podge of sewing stuff that I put in my sewing basket, and the list goes on and on. It’s amazing what we just toss in our junk drawers. Last year I sorted and tossed out things that were of no use to me or the family and now it’s a “useful drawer” where I store rolls of packaging tape, batteries, markers, small tools, etc. and it’s organized by items in small baskets. Now, we don’t have to shuffle through junk to find what we want. So much better!

  9. posted by WilliamB on

    I don’t have a “junk drawer” in my kitchen, although I do have two misc drawers. One holds misc kitchen gear that defies categorization such as the pastry brush, the mini gravy ladle[1], and the food label marker & eraser.

    The other holds other misc items that I use in the eat-in area but also defy categorization such power cords for items I don’t charge often.

    [1] Surprisingly useful, as I found when I put it away for a few weeks.

  10. posted by Liz on

    I have several everything drawers – in the kitchen, at my desk and by my bed. They are somewhat organized, but stuff gets in there and I go through them on a periodic basis.

    After this was posted, I went to the kitchen drawer to check it out. I ended throwing out some old stuff and relocated some other stuff. I did find a few items that are interesting – crayons and paper. I don’t have a child, but there are plenty of kids in the neighborhood. So,I’m prepared for a casual visit.

    There were a couple of things that I found in my mom’s junk drawer when I was cleaning her house. They are practical, but not used that often. But, looking at them brought back good memories, so they went back in the drawer.

    I have this cabinet in my main hallway that has lots of small drawers, so I’ve used them to organize those small essential needs. Each drawer has its purpose and it has been very helpful to be able to go to one spot for items.

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