9 Strategies For Finally Tackling Your Junk Drawer

9 Strategies For Finally Tackling Your Junk Drawer

Tess Wilson
Mar 25, 2015
(Image credit: Shutterstock/tab62)

If you see someone with a slightly obnoxious holier-than-thou glow about them, it's probably because they recently cleaned out their junk drawer. There's really nothing like the feeling of having your twine, markers, hair ties, chip clips, and so-much-more perfectly organized— and here's how you can feel it, too!

(Image credit: I Heart Organizing)

1. iHeart Organizing's Taking The Junk Out Of Junk Drawer

I filled the first tray with the primary essentials like pens and Sharpies, Post-Its, a small measuring tape (for quick project measurements), push pins (for the cork board inside the cabinet right above the drawer), scotch tape, a small pair of scissors, assorted washi tapes and a deck of cards (we’re just weird like that).

I filled the tray near the back of the drawer with the less-essential items: gum, mints, hand lotion and lip balm. Side note: I like keeping this particular lip balm around in the kitchen because it doubles as a salve for minor burns - and I tend to be a bit accident prone from time to time, haha. I left one compartment open for my rings/jewelry when I’m cooking or working on a project. Nestled between the dividers is a stack of small notepads.
(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

2. This Is the Most Organized Junk Drawer We've Ever Seen from The Kitchn

When is a junk drawer not a junk drawer? When it looks like this! These are all the typical items one finds in a catch-all drawer, but because each type of item has been supplied with its own organizing bin, none of it feels chaotic or like junk! In fact, it feels downright harmonious!

If you listen, you might be able to hear your own drawers calling to you from the kitchen asking for the same treatment. You can head to your local organization store or just use the bottom of cereal and cracker boxes to achieve this look in your own home on the cheap. A place for everything and everything in its place at its finest.

3. Steps 2 and 3 from Real Simple's 4-Step Make Over Your Junk Drawer:

Line your countertop with newspaper and spread the contents of your junk drawer on it. (Amazing how much fits in that little drawer, isn’t it?) Now that you can see everything clearly, go through and throw away anything that’s garbage—dried-up lip balms, expired coupons, mystery keys, etc.

Next, pluck out all the items that actually belong in other areas: screws and picture hangers (in the tool kit), tweezers and emery boards (medicine cabinet), and so on. Make piles for each area so you can quickly put everything away at the end. Then sort the remaining items (the ones that actually belong in that drawer) into groups by category—rubber bands in one, extra buttons in another, and so on.
(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

4. The Kitchn's How I Transformed My Junk Drawer Without Buying a Single Organizer

I searched through my apartment and picked up anything I thought could be used to organize the junk drawer... It took about 10 minutes and a lot of swapping various boxes in and out — changing their orientation, moving up, down, and around — until I found an arrangement that used up the most available space in the drawer, and resulted in a tight fit, with most boxes nestled snugly next to each other.

I assigned a storage task to each container: a box for all our pens, pencils, and dry erase markers; a box for paper scissors; a few boxes for our medicine bottles; and another box for my label maker...

(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

5. The Kitchn's 5 Things That Don't Belong In the Kitchen Junk Drawer

  1. Anything that is actually important.

  2. Medicine, antacids, and gum.
  3. Take-out menus.
  4. Stuff that's really trash.
  5. Household tools.

(See more details— what about tiny scottie dogs?!?— over at The Kitchn!)

(Image credit: Shifrah Combiths)

6. Apartment Therapy Weekend Project: Before & After: Shifrah's Junk Drawer

Next, I thought about what would actually have a "home" in the junk drawer, things I know I actually reach for when I'm in the kitchen. (Recently, pre-cleanup, things I'd dig and shuffle through junk to try to find.) For me, this was items like spare keys, scissors, tape, pens and permanent markers, and hair ties. The baby food jar holds rubber bands.

I didn't want or need to fill every space. Empty, clean space helps me keep things where they belong and encourages me not to "mess up" the work I've done. In addition, I purposely left the portion on the left completely empty to hold those little things that filled the whole junk space previously. I'm being realistic and embracing the fact that loose LEGOs and hardware pieces will get stuck in the drawer. But by having the space small and incorporating emptying it out into my cleaning routine, I hope to keep it under control rather than it becoming another weekend project!
(Image credit: Kathleen Luttschyn)

7. From Apartment Therapy's Before & After: Junk Drawer Organization

2. Make a list or take a camera phone picture of what you'll be storing.Then when you go to choose organizers, you can reference it to make sure you have containers for everything.
3. Measure the inside of the drawer and find organizers. If you measure first, you'll save yourself the hassle of buying organizers that don't fit. Alternatively, if you already have unused tins or organizers from other projects, you can use them and save yourself money and a trip to the store. I used a wire cutlery tray and a few miscellaneous organizers (including the two I had already) from The Container Store.
(Image credit: Martha Stewart)

8. Clutter: The Long Goodbye from Martha Stewart

Don't Fixate on a "System"
Many people think the secret is to get their hands on the right storage system — whether it's plastic bins or closet organizers. But no object has the power to bring clarity to your home. Make the hard decisions about getting rid of things yourself; then figure out where to store what's left.
Heed the Dreaded Spots
Next, tackle the places you ignore. If there's a drawer that makes you wince every time you open it, remind yourself that it's probably less taxing to sort through it than to feel frustrated every day. "It takes less effort to tackle clutter than to carry the stress of it around with you," Zasio says.
(Image credit: Martha Stewart)

9. The Kitchn's 4 Solutions to Help Organize Every Junk Drawer In America

4. Never be afraid to get rid of it entirely.
A few years back I moved to Chicago with a knapsack and some snacks. I got rid of my junk drawer and haven't brought it back since. Bills and mail get sorted at the door; batteries and stamps live on my desk; important memos get photographed and stored in my phone or in the cloud. It sounds radical, but it can be done! Plus it will free up a drawer for your ridiculously adorable napkin rings and towels that aren't for everyday use. Perfecto!

How's your junk drawer these days?

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