How to Organize Your Junk Drawer

Everyone has a junk drawer in their house with items that don't seem to have a home. Whether it's brimful with too many pens, plastic bags, old receipts, or tools, you can still organize your junk drawer and feel better about the old mess you used to have going on.

Most junk drawers consist of items that are odds and ends and you continue to throw items in until – eventually – the mess is too big to ignore! The point is to now organize better and make those items easier to access on a regular basis and remove all of the clutter and unneeded items.


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    Dump out the drawer. Find a big, open surface – either a floor or a big table where you can dump everything out and sort it into piles. Make the piles into "like" items, where the tools go together and all of the craft items have their own pile. Separate miscellaneous items so you don't end up with another junk pile.
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    Once your junk drawer is completely empty, give the drawer a quick wipe down with a moist paper towel. Try using a multi-purpose cleaner and spray the inside of the drawer a few times.
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    Take all of the pens you find in the junk drawer and test them out on a scratch piece of paper. There's no need to keep pens that are out of ink, so immediately throw them out. Pens rarely hold sentimental value, so no excuses for keeping them!
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    Another common item for junk drawers is take-out menus. Go through them and pile them together before placing them in a simple manila folder so they won't move around in the drawer.
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    Purchase drawer organizers. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes so you can choose the best one to fit the size of your drawer. Go to any home goods store or organizational store to purchase the organizers. The organizers come in plastic, bamboo, silver, and many other styles and colors to match your décor. The organizers are also stackable so you can oftentimes slide the organizers or move them around on top of one another.
    • When purchasing the drawer organizers, consider the size and depth of your drawer, as well as what types of items you have going into the drawer.
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    Take all of your tools and place them back into your purchased organizers by the type of item. Put all of the larger items (tools, etc.) in the larger compartments and place the smaller ones (pens, etc.) in a smaller one.
    • Try using different colors of organizers to better label what items go in each place.
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    For all of the tiny items that are hard to compartmentalize (tacks, paperclips, batteries) place them in Ziploc bags by type. Alternatively, use small boxes like little butter tubs. Test out the batteries and recycle any out that no longer work.
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    Put all of the loose change in a piggy bank. It's OK to have a lot of pennies and dimes, just as long as they're grouped together and have their own space. When the piggy bank gets too full you can go to a coin machine at your local supermarket (try Coinstar or, better yet, take your coins to your bank where their machine can count them for free) and transfer it in for cash.
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    Enjoy your tidy new drawer. From this point on, it's essential to return everything to its place. If it doesn't have a place, think twice about dumping it in – perhaps disposal, recycling, or a different storage space are better options.
    • Make sure you occasionally check on your drawer so the junk doesn't start accumulating again. Clean things out of it throughout the month and keep a process going on keeping it clean until waiting till it looks like it's about to explode. Don't put anything in the drawer that doesn't have a place – instead, find an organized space for that item.
    • Warn other members in your home about the new change with the organization. Tell them what items belong in each drawer and show them the effort you made to keep the drawers clutter-free. Warn them that you will periodically throw out things that have been dumped in there!


  • If there are any items you find that are still in good condition, but you don't necessarily want, then donate them to your local second hand store. Goodwill and Salvation Army do pickups at your home for items you don't want. You also get a tax refund from it if you're in the United States.
  • Don't be afraid to use more space. Find room in another drawer to store items you can't seem to fit in your original junk drawer. Clear out more space and use the room you have – don't resort to just stuffing it all in one drawer.
  • You might want to put on some music and enjoy as you work.
  • Buy an air freshener or drawer sachet for the drawer to keep it smelling clean. Try putting one under your organizers so it's hidden and doesn't cause more clutter. Alternatively, clean it with something distinctive such as clove oil (prevents mold), or lavender oil (lovely smell), or peppermint oil (deters mice).
  • If you have a bunch of things you have been meaning to repurpose, put them in a large cardboard box and store them on a shelf or in a corner.
  • Don't be afraid to throw items out. Even if you think you might use something later, most of the time you won't. It's better to go out and purchase something you need once in a while than to have too much junk in your drawers.


  • Set aside the time to do this job from start to finish; getting distracted in the middle of a declutter job can be frustrating.

Things You'll Need

  • Space to set out drawer contents
  • Small plastic bags for organizing
  • Drawer organizers (from most home storage and hardware stores)
  • Trash can and recycling bin; charity box
  • Drawer liners or sachets; essential oil for scenting (optional)
  • Cleaning/wiping gear

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