How to Finally Organize Your Junk Drawer—and Keep It That Way

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated March 14, 2022
Top view of a woman organising a kitchen drawer
Photo: Natalia Kostikova / EyeEm / EyeEm / Getty Images

You’d be surprised by how much actual junk is in your junk drawer

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Typically, junk drawers, sometimes referred to as “catch-all” drawers, live in your kitchen or home office. You probably use these handy spaces to hold everything from sheets of stamps to extra screws to instruction manuals, which means they can get pretty crowded after a while. It’s wise to organize your junk drawer every few months to ensure it’s neat and user-friendly so that you can find what you’re looking for in a pinch.

By following the steps below, you can organize your junk drawer in a few minutes and continue stashing any extra tools with ease.

1. Remove Everything and Declutter

First things first—remove absolutely everything from your junk drawer. If you can remove the entire drawer, start there. Then empty the drawer's contents onto your kitchen counter (the floor works, too). 

Declutter this small space by getting rid of trash first, including expired coupons, dried-out markers, and non-working pens. Then, address each item. Is your junk drawer the right spot for it? If yes, keep it nearby. Put everything else back where it belongs, or set it aside for now.

Junk drawers are great places for things that don’t have proper homes elsewhere in your house, like office supplies, small household tools that you regularly use, and more. If you have a few drawers in different rooms, this is a good time to consider the general purpose of each one and move some things around. 

2. Clean the Drawer

A man putting his phone in the drawer
Photo: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

When it’s empty, clean your junk drawer to remove any dirt, dust, and other debris. Spray it with a multi-purpose surface cleaner and scrub it as needed. Then, wipe it down with a disinfectant wipe and let it air dry before putting anything back in. To make your junk drawer look like new, add a new drawer liner once it’s dry. Choose one in a fun color or pattern to brighten up your space and make your junk drawer feel less, well, junky.

3. Sort Your Things

Once you have pared down the contents of your junk drawer, you should be left with only the things that belong there. Categorize these items and sort them into piles (paperclips in one pile, pens in another, for example). This step allows you to see everything you need to fit in the drawer so that you can begin visualizing potential organization systems.

4. Make a Plan for Your Drawer

Every junk drawer is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all organization solution. Make a plan of action to organize your drawer and aim to put a simple organization system in place. 

You could use drawer dividers to keep things separate, organize with small containers, or both. Once you have your organizational supplies of choice, put them in the drawer to see what works and what doesn’t. The goal is to create a streamlined, user-friendly junk drawer that you don’t have to rummage through to find what you need.

5. Implement a Simple Organization System

Now it’s time to put that plan in action. Arrange your organization system in your junk drawer, ensuring there’s enough room for everything. You may have to rearrange things to make them fit. Consider putting items you use less further back in the drawer and reserving the front for everyday items, like pens and pencils.

6. Keep It Up

Reassess your junk drawer every month or so and reorganize as needed. During your checkups, ensure there’s no trash to be found, and that everything is in the right spot. Secure dividers or containers as needed and refill supplies that are getting low.

7. Consider Hiring a Professional Organizer

Whether you’ve got a mile-long to-do list or all of your drawers are looking a bit like junk drawers lately, hiring a professional organizer near you can help. These pros can help you implement organizational systems that work for you and your family’s specific needs.

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