Organizing Junk Drawers

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Every home has a junk drawer, even if it goes by a different name. It’s the drawer where we tend to toss things that don’t have a permanent place. Sometimes, we also use the junk drawer to hold things we need to use in a hurry now and then, like screwdrivers or takeout menus.

There’s nothing wrong with having a junk drawer. In fact, they can be really helpful — as long as you know what’s in them, and you don’t have to pull everything out to find what you need. So, let’s declutter this spot and get it sorted. It’ll only take you a half-hour to do. Then you’ll have an organized junk drawer you’ll want to show off everyone who comes to your house. (Or maybe that’s just me?)

How to Organize Junk Drawers

Junk in a drawer

Remove Clutter

Removing clutter is always the first step in home organizing. Ordinarily, you declutter a space by thinking about its purpose and getting rid of anything that doesn’t serve that function. But the whole purpose of a junk drawer is to hold various, mostly unrelated odds and ends.

So, to really organize your junk drawer, you’ll need to be a little ruthless when deciding what belongs in it.

First, toss the trash:

  • Discard obvious trash like receipts you no longer need, expired coupons, etc.
  • Throw away anything broken, empty, outdated, or expired.

Next, remove the clutter:

  • Grab anything that belongs elsewhere and put it away.
  • Get rid of the “just in case” stuff — things you kept thinking you’d one day use them or need them, but have not.
  • Let go of the “Someday Stuff” — Things you kept thinking that someday you’d have time for, but never have. (Examples: stuff relating to hobbies, activities, or events you don’t actually have time for or are currently able to pursue.)
Junk drawer meme

Organize the Contents of your Junk Drawer

Once you’ve gotten rid of the obvious trash, dump the contents of the drawer on a counter. You may discover a lot of things that are related to each other. A dozen phone charging cords, for example, or maybe a small mountain of coins. Finding a large pile of anything is a sign that it needs a permanent spot in your home outside of the junk drawer.

After grouping things by use, you may find they actually do belong elsewhere. For example:

  • Office supplies: binder clips, rubber bands, push pins, pens, and pencils.
  • Spare batteries: these do not belong in your junk drawer and could cause a house fire!
  • Coupons: you won’t get caught at the store without them if you keep them in your purse
  • Small tools: there’s nothing wrong with keeping a Philips and a flathead screwdriver handy, but you probably don’t need a hammer in your junk drawer.
  • Takeout menus: Most restaurants have their menus available online, so why keep copies at home?

Use Containers Wisely

You don’t need to rush out and buy interlocking, washable drawer inserts, but they do make a drawer look nice. Check around your home and you’ll probably find inexpensive things that can serve the same purpose.

  • Old Tupperware containers without matching lids
  • Empty, shallow boxes from cosmetics or toys
  • Clean, empty yogurt or cottage cheese containers
  • Even small ziplock bags

Keep in mind that using lids might make the junk drawer look tidier, but will also make it more difficult to find things. So, skip the lids when possible!

Clean It

Clean your junk drawer while it’s empty. Depending on how dusty your house is, you might want to completely remove the drawer and wipe the bottom and sides of it, too. A damp microfiber cloth is usually sufficient, just be sure the drawer is dry before putting things away.

Once you’ve got the junk drawer clean and organized, make a point to review and tidy its contents at least once a month. You may still decide to call it a “Junk Drawer,” but that doesn’t mean you should let it look junky!

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2 Comments

  1. When decluttering I find it very difficult at times to know what to keep and what to get rid of?
    I get stuck and upset and then can’t continue. What do you suggest I do at these moments. I am not kidding , I often put it off and then feel disappointed in myself.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I go through this sometimes, too. Marie Kondo’s approach “Does it spark joy?” is one way to decide though, I’ll be honest, it doesn’t necessarily work for me. (Photos of myself at my heaviest, for instance, do not “spark joy,” and yet someday my kids will want to have photos of their mom. See what I mean?)

      In general, here are the kind of questions I ask myself when I’m trying to decide whether to get rid of or keep something:

      – Is it broken or need more mending than I have time to do that day?
      – Have I used it in the past year?
      – Do I have something else just like it that I like better or which works better?
      – Have I just been moving this from one place in the house to another without actually needing it?
      – Is it so annoying to clean that I resist using it?
      – Have my tastes changed, so I don’t like it as much as I once did?
      – Am I just keeping it because I feel bad about having spent money on it?
      – Do I know someone else who’d love it more than I do?

      It sounds strange, but when you first start decluttering you’ll want to ask yourself these questions about every. single. item. It’s kind of like exercising out-of-shape muscles: you start slow, but once you’ve been at it a while you’ll get faster about it. When you’ve been steadily decluttering, you’ll quickly reach the point where you can pick up an item and pretty much make an immediate decision whether to keep, donate, or toss it.

      The only time I’d encourage holding onto items for a while even if you’ve decided you don’t want them is when you’re decluttering photos, heirlooms, and old letters. If you’re leaning toward tossing those things, put them in a box and set them aside for a season. (Make a note on your calendar to go back and look through them.) After some time has passed, if you’re still leaning toward ditching them then you can feel comfortable that you won’t regret parting with them.

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