7 Essential Time-Savers You Need in Your Junk Drawer, According to Handymen

published Oct 29, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

If your junk drawer is anything like mine, it’s a catch-all for, well, household junk. Think: Kids’ artwork, face masks, pens, checks, spare batteries, old cables, makeup, and even a bag of pebbles (don’t ask!). While this little area of my home does hold some treasures, the haphazard style in which it’s thrown together makes it nearly impossible to find anything. 

And even though it’s tempting to purge it all in a decluttering fit, experts say there are a few very helpful things that you should actually add to this already bustling space. These seven essentials are the picks handymen say you should keep at the ready.

Credit: Leatherman

Leatherman multi-tool

“This is one tool I cannot live without,” says Trevor Leysock, owner and franchisee of the Handyman Connection in Charleston, South Carolina. The Leatherman Multi-Tool is essentially a Swiss Army knife attached to a set of pliers. As a self-contained mini toolbox, it allows you to cut, snip, saw, file, pry, and screw. 

Tape measure

A tape measure is absolutely essential and won’t spend much time at the bottom of the drawer, says Leysock. You’ll find yourself reaching for this simple tool for everything from home projects to school projects, so why not keep it somewhere easily accessible? 

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Duct tape

Duct tape is a beloved cult classic when it comes to junk drawer must-haves because it’s extremely versatile, says Kevin Busch, vice president of operations for Mr. Handyman, a Neighborly company. Because it’s fairly water-resistant, it makes a great patch for holes in various items, like your vacuum hose, until you can get them professionally fixed or restored, says Busch.

It also has some more functional uses, thanks to its extreme stickiness, he explains. Rip off a piece and use it as a DIY lint or pet hair roller or to pick up glass shards from the floor. You can even use it to lift a splinter out of your skin, says Busch. Finally, try hanging a strip of duct tape over your kitchen sink to trap any pesky house flies or gnats. 

Credit: HDX

Multi-bit screwdriver

Having this tool in your junk drawer will save you countless trips to the toolbox, says Leysock. Options range from simple 4-bit models (small and large flat and Phillips heads) to complex 25-bit models, but Leysock says the former is just fine for the average homeowner. It will do 99 percent of household tasks—replacing toy batteries, tightening loose screws, and more—without the stress of managing a giant inventory of bits, he explains. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Magic Eraser

Leysock calls this tiny tool a “truly magic solution for homes with children, pets, and clumsy people like me who tend to bump into walls and create scuff marks.” Use the Magic Eraser cleaning sponge to remove unwanted marks off appliances, remove dirt from stair risers, and even erase crayon from walls. Just be careful on surfaces like hardwood floors, as it also has the ability to make the finish disappear with the stain, cautions Leysock. 

Credit: Home Depot

Plumber’s putty

Also known as jointing compound, plumber’s putty helps form a watertight seal, says Mark Dawson, chief operating officer at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. Use it for a variety of DIY replacements and upgrades on faucets and drains, says Dawson. Just a dab of plumber’s putty can help avoid leaks and keep parts firmly in place. 

Credit: Yeti studio/Shutterstock


“No matter how many flashlights you have or where you keep them, it is important to keep one in the junk drawer,” says Leysock. In emergency situations, it’s vital to have quick access to a flashlight in a familiar place, and the junk drawer is typically easy to find in the dark—for both residents and guests.

And since you likely dig through the junk drawer on a daily basis, it’s a good reminder to test it periodically and keep the power supply fresh. “Out-of-sight and out-of-mind flashlights almost always have dead batteries when you need them the most,” Leysock says.