Tackling the Junk Drawer

Everyone has one, it’s usually in the kitchen, and if your junk drawer is like some of our clients’, it’s a little beastie!  Cleaning out, decluttering, and organizing the junk drawer is actually a harder project than people initially realize.  Why?

  1. Unscheduled – People often wait to declutter their junk drawer when it finally reaches a point that they can’t open it or close it.  They may not have time in that moment to deal with it and in an attempt to find what they are looking for OR close the junk drawer, they begin to pull stuff out and pile it on the counter.
  2. Miscellaneous – The junk drawer is full of miscellaneous items.  When you cleaned out your purse, you took out that gift card for your favorite restaurant and put it in the junk drawer.  When you put together your new Ikea bookshelf and got a packet of Allen wrenches, rather than walking all the way to the garage to put them in your tool box you – yes – put them in the junk drawer.
  3. Unfinished Projects – The junk drawer can also contain unfinished projects.  When you didn’t have time to fix that magnet that broke, you put it in the junk drawer to handle later.  You’ve been meaning check this old credit card to make sure it’s deactivated and then you need to cut it up.  Now instead of one or two things you needed to do, you are facing a wave of mini-projects you thought you would deal with later.
  4. The Beast Continues to be Fed! From batteries and twist-ties to matches and gum, the junk drawer seems to be a never ending project; one cleans it out and it becomes a problem again in six months.

How to get control now and going forward?

The best way to organize a junk drawer is to understand what needs to be in the junk drawer vs. items in it that have a more permanent home –

  • Tools – Except for possibly a tape measure, tools can go into a toolbox in the garage.
  • Home Office Supplies – Paper clips, pens, post it notes, tape, etc. can all be centralized in a home office drawer or box with the other household office supplies.
  • Gift Cards – Put in a purse or wallet for future use.  If you want to leave in the drawer, then see below.
  • Crayons – If you have children, chances are you have a place to store art supplies.
  • Owners Manuals – While some organization experts suggest recycling paper owner’s manuals due to their availability online, however we recommend keeping them. Why? If you plan to sell your home in the near future, put them in a binder or box that you can then leave with the new homeowners.  That way the actual owners manual is ready to go for them on Day 1 of owning their new home vs. trying to print or read them online.

What if you aren’t sure what you want to live in your junk drawer or live somewhere else?  What if you want a clean junk drawer, but you also don’t want the item to just get thrown into your trash.  Maybe if you had more time you could find someone that might need it?

Start by Organizing your Items into Categories and Put Into Containers

For any decluttering project, you want to sort through your items first, categorize them, and then put the items you want to keep into storage containers.  Wait to buy storage containers until after you have identified what you want to keep in your junk drawer.

Once you have decided what you want in your junk drawer and purchased the containers, have storage containers at the ready as many junk drawer contents are small.  Containers will corral small items and allow you to figure out what you have, and keep you organized. You can also walk away from the project if the items are in their containers if you need a break or want to think through what you plan to keep.

Additionally, storage containers like tackle boxes will allow you to utilize the depth of the drawer top to bottom.  A container will actually allow the item to be contained in a smaller footprint within the drawer and be piled high thus using the drawer space top to bottom.

Storage Container Options –

Option 1 – Pick up clear tackle boxes at any outdoor sporting goods store like Outdoor Bass Pro Shop or Cabela’s.

Option 2 – Low cost organizers are clean yogurt containers.  They are just tall enough for drawers and, depending on the brand, have nice wide openings.

Option 3 – Clean takeout or salad containers from the grocery store.


Step 1  – Begin sorting like items together and place them into your storage containers.

  • Rubber Bands
  • Safety Pins
  • Matches
  • Locks (think for when you go back to a gym or for an outside shed)
  • Graphite for Door Locks
  • Crayons
  • Keys
  • Flower Bouquet Preservation Packets
  • Gift Cards

Step 2 – Any items you don’t know whether you want to keep them or not, set aside in a box, resealable bag or other container.

Step 3 – Set your organizers into your drawer.  How much room do you have now?  If you have room, place your bag of items into the drawer should you need to think about what to do with those items; or better yet, leave the resealable bag on top of the counter.  Do not start any other decluttering projects until you are done with this one – that means everything in the resealable bag either needs to be trashed, donated, or recycled.

Do you need help finding a home for items in your junk drawer?  Email us at life.easier@yahoo.com and we’ll help provide options for you to keep those things out of a landfill.