Experts’ 8 Greatest Hacks of All Time for Organizing Your Dresser Drawers

published Sep 29, 2021
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Credit: Julia Steele

Next to a closet, a dresser can be the ultimate storage hero. But with all the room available in a drawer-filled hulk of furniture, there’s also ample opportunity for clutter to accumulate. Wide-set or deep drawers can easily swallow up socks or smaller pieces, while digging for a single shirt can turn your garments into a knotted pileup. With all of that in mind, we turned to professional organizers for their tried-and-true hacks for banishing clutter from this bedroom staple — for good. 

Declutter before you organize. 

Ready to set up your dresser for success? Begin by clearing out every drawer to get a better idea of what you’re working with. Donate or toss out items you no longer wear or need, and arrange the rest into subcategories, advises Katrina Hassan of Spark Joy London. For example, separate intimates, pajamas, T-shirts, and exercise clothes. Now you can visualize how and where you can best store each grouping. “It’s common when you complete this part of the process to find items that shouldn’t be there,” says Hassan. “If these items already have a storage location in your home, return them to their correct place.” 

Once you’ve gone through everything, clean each drawer with a damp cloth to freshen it up, and allow it to dry thoroughly before putting anything back in. 

Arrange items by how you’ll put them on.

“Consider the dresser drawer contents as a reflection of the order in which you dress your body,” says Hassan. Fill the top drawers with items you put on first, such as undergarments and socks, then reserve the bottom drawers for items you put on last. Depending on how many drawers you have in your dresser, you can designate each to one or two categories, she says. “The key to effective organization and maintaining it is to create a simple system.” 

Credit: Lana Kenney

Leave bulky clothes for the closet.

As much as possible, avoid storing heavy and dense fabric in your dresser, says Laura Kinsella of Urban OrgaNYze. “They don’t breathe well, are hard to get out, and simply put, take up too much space.” So if you have room in your closet, let thicker sweaters and jeans live on the shelves above your hanging space while keeping dresser drawers available for lighter pieces like T-shirts and workout leggings. 

Use drawer dividers.

If you’re working with a dresser that has extra wide or deep drawers, it can be helpful to bring in a little reinforcement. Professional organizer and productivity consultant Rashelle Isip of The Order Expert recommends using drawer dividers or separators to create structure within your given dimensions and help prevent neatly folded clothing from shifting or falling over when you open a drawer. “Plus, you can clearly see where the front and back sections of the drawer begin and end, making it less likely that items will be pushed, lost, or squished towards the back of the drawer,” she says. Isip advises creating at least three to four sections in an extra-wide drawer to keep items contained and in line. 

Make files instead of layers.

When storing clothing within drawers, eliminate layers and file your clothing instead, says professional organizer Sangita Evans of Clear and Hear. Folding and filing items next to one another both makes it easier to see what you have and prevents the inevitable mess that can arise from having to sift through stacks of clothing. With visibility on your side, you’re less likely to “lose” items or forget you ever owned them and more likely to pull them out without making a mess. 

Or, create two drawers in one.

If you prefer to store your clothes in layers, be selective about what you put on the bottom, says Hassan. Relegate out-of-season clothing or less frequently used items for the base layer so that the pieces you use daily can live on top. Hassan’s ingenious trick for this? Use acrylic boxes for each group. When the seasons change, all you have to do is swap the boxes around. “Effectively, using this technique, you create two drawers in one,” she says. 

Organize by color. 

Color-coding clothing in your drawers may seem like a superfluous step but, in truth, it can help keep things visually cohesive and, therefore, easier to track. For Kinsella, it’s all about functionality with the bonus of aesthetics. “When you divide by color, you have a smaller section to assess — like when you’re hunting for the perfect white tee in the morning — which can streamline your routine,” she says. Plus, it can give you a visible hint for when you may need to do laundry.

Don’t try to cram everything in.

It can be tempting to try and squeeze in every item of clothing without a home into your drawers, but “a dresser, like any container, will only hold so much,” says Isip. In order to make sure you don’t jam your drawers or find items behind the dresser months later, “only place what can comfortably fit into a dresser,” says Isip. “Leave at least a 1-inch gap from the top of the side of the drawer to be safe.” (If you have more clothes than dresser space, she suggests placing off-season items in airtight containers and storing them under your bed.)

And once you choose a dresser organization method or structure that works for you, stick with it, says Isip. “It’s easier to follow and maintain a single method, rather than changing or modifying methods every week or month.”

Apartment Therapy’s Laundry, Sorted vertical was written and edited independently by the Apartment Therapy editorial team and generously underwritten by Samsung.