For the Love of the Junk Drawer


Junk drawers…most of us have one, including yours truly. The name gets a bad rap. It can imply that the things in the drawer are, indeed, junk – but, they really shouldn’t be. And, it tends to be an invitation to just throw anything in there.

At their worst, junk drawers are dumping grounds for… junk. At their best, they’re simply a place for miscellaneous items to live, that are conveniently located at the tip of our fingertips. They can be really helpful! So, how can our drawers fall into the latter camp? Here are some tips to creating an organized junk drawer that works for you.

1. Start from scratch.

If your junk drawer is like mine, it’s probably due for a little makeover, so let’s start at the very beginning and take everything out. As you do so, sort out the trash and discard it. Take note of how much space your drawer has, so you know how much to edit down later.

2. Group Items.

kitchen drawer

Notice what categories emerge with the items you removed. Common ones include batteries, tape, scissors, hardware, adhesives, chap stick, matches/lighters, candles, notepads, writing utensils, keys, spare change, paper clips, rubber bands, or tech cords.

3. Edit down.

Now, go through your categories and see what you can get rid of. Hardened superglue, misc. hardware for who knows what, 100 rubber bands or clothes pins when 5 would do. This is the time to try out all those spare keys. Find what they go to, and label them accordingly. Anything that you can’t figure out can get the boot.

I invite you to be ruthless here. Even though this is a junk drawer, it does not mean we need to keep things we don’t use. If you haven’t used something in a year or more, you probably won’t. When you’ve edited down to only the things you want to keep, you’ll move on to the final step.

4. Find homes for things.

This is where you question where things should belong. Consider 2 things as you make these decisions:

  1. Where do you use the item? Just because something has always gone in the junk drawer doesn’t mean it needs to stay there. If you use paper clips when sorting papers or making crafts, perhaps a craft storage area or office would be a better permanent home for them.
  2. How much space do you have? Your junk drawer can only hold so much. One of the reasons a junk drawer tends to look cluttered is that it’s stuffed to the brim. Larger items or bigger categories like light bulbs or batteries may be better off elsewhere, like in their own shoebox sized containers in a utility area, laundry room, or garage.
kitchen organization

5. Final Tips.

Incorporate a quick tidying up the junk drawer into your routines. If your drawer is in the kitchen, give it some attention when you have downtime while waiting for water to boil, or a part of your tidy-up evening routine.

Clear acrylic drawer organizer trays are very helpful in junk drawers. You can find them on amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, The Container Store, Target – all over. I recommend purchasing them individually, in various sizes (vs. a large pre-sized unit), then fitting them in however they work best. You can return the extras.