How to Reign in the Junk Drawer

A wood junk drawer.

Everybody has one: that not-so-secret drawer in the kitchen or office where miscellaneous items get tossed day after day. The junk drawer, or drawers, becomes a catch-all for the random goods that you just don’t have another designated spot for. And it’s not a bad thing, necessarily. But the junk drawer does you no good if you don’t know what’s in it, things end up there that should be elsewhere (now where did I put the special screwdriver for my glasses?), or you can’t find the items once they are dropped into the abyss. No worries, this is an easy DIY that will make you feel more organized within minutes. Here are some tips to reign in the junk drawer.

Step 1 - Empty and Sort

A junk drawer.

The first step in the process is to figure out what you have in the drawer in the first place. You will be surprised by the hardware, shoelaces, and gum that turn up. Don’t be dismayed. Just dump everything out and start sorting. Put rubber bands together, thumbtacks, hand tools, food, ads, business cards, tape, scissors, pens, paper clips, and random cords and cables.

Step 2 - Make Decisions

Grab your coffee and take a minute to review your myriad piles. What do you really want in your junk drawer? What do you use often and need within easy reach? It’s important to limit what remains in your junk drawer and put all other items in their proper home. For example, tools should go in the garage or other organized tool storage area so you can find them when you need them. Food should not be in the junk drawer. A few rubber bands and pens are helpful to have handy, but you don’t need 50 of either. A pair of scissors, a few thumbtacks, and perhaps a highlighter or permanent marker might make the cut too. Move all the piles of items that you don’t want in the junk drawer to one side.

Step 3 - Find New Homes

A messy wood drawer.

With the decisions made, now it’s just a matter of finding a new home for all the “junk” that was in the drawer. Extra rubber bands, tape, scissors, markers, pens, paper clips, thumb tacks, and note cards can go to the office, desk, or office supplies section of your home. Cleaning supplies, zip ties, twist ties, bread bag tags, yarn, string, and batteries can be organized into an over the door shoe organizer in the pantry, laundry room, or garage. Coupons can go directly into your wallet so they can be redeemed if still applicable. If they have expired, throw them away.

Step 4 - Organize

An organized drawer.

Now that you’ve sorted out what you want to keep, cleaned the drawer, discarded things you no longer need or want, and found new homes for many of the items creating clutter, all that is left to do is organize the contents in your drawer. This is where the fun begins. Silverware trays and other easy-to-find drawer organizers are a useful tool for organizing your junk drawer because they allow you to group like items together and keep them from spilling all over the drawer. They are easy to find online or in a nearby retail establishment, but you could always make your own with some scrap lumber.

Alternately, you could put items like paper clips and screws in small containers. Clear containers work best so you can see what it inside with a quick glance. Labels are another option for easy identification. Sandwich baggies can also do the job. For rubber bands, make a ball. To do this, take about 10 rubber bands and squish them into a ball, then add small rubber bands around the outside to hold it together. You can keep growing your ball larger as you collect more rubber bands.

For business cards, first, sort them and toss any that you no longer need or think you will just look up on the internet the next time you need the number anyway. Organize the rest of them in a business card holder, address book, or online contact list (then ditch the card). While you are reigning in the paper, take all the must-keep ads and coupons and bind them together with a large clip or put them into a folder.

It’s impossible to know what currently resides in your junk drawer, but we’re betting it is more of a source of frustration than convenience. So tackle the beast and reign in your junk drawer.