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How to Organize Your Junk Drawers

There’s one thing every kitchen must have: a great junk drawer.

If you are thinking about overhauling your kitchen or designing a new one, you’ll want to plan on adding one or more drawers just for stuff. As a professional organizer, I’m really not sure why they’re called “junk” drawers. I’ve always told clients they should be called “necessary” drawers instead.

A junk drawer is an essential part of running a household. It contains lots of little things you suddenly find you need right away. A well-organized junk drawer does just that: It puts what you need right where you need it. On the other hand, a disorganized heap is just frustrating, because you can’t find the tape for a birthday present, the lighter for your candles or the screwdriver to tighten something.

You might wonder how one organizes “junk.” Just like any other organizing project, it includes removing things that are clutter rather than useful. If it serves a purpose and you’d reach for it, then it stays. If you can’t imagine why you’d ever need to reach for it—or reach for it in the kitchen—then out it goes. You may find some things are good items to keep, but you’d never need them in the kitchen.

When I set up a well-functioning kitchen, I usually aim to have two junk drawers: one for kitchen-related tools and one for household things.

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Five Steps to Organize Your Junk Drawer

  1. Dump It. The easiest way to clear up a mess is to dump the drawer on the kitchen counter. Then divide the contents into piles of like items. As you dig in, toss clutter and trash.
  2. Divide It. As you work, separate out any rarely used, but still needed, kitchen tools. In my house, that includes items like an egg separator, turkey lifters, nut crackers, BBQ skewers and so on. Placing those in a cooking-related junk drawer helps to keep my everyday kitchen tools from becoming a jumble of items.
  3. Sort It. Take all the non-kitchen items and sort them into like kinds. Create piles of pens and pencils, paperclips, keys, tools, batteries and so on. Placing matching items, such as rubber bands, in a small container will help you stay organized.
  4. Delete It. It is great to have a few pens in the kitchen—but not 30 pens. Cull through your piles and reduce them to a manageable number. The extras can be moved to another location, such as your home office or the garage toolbox. If you don’t need the extras, drop them in a bag and donate them.
  5. Separate It. Take your large drawers and divide them into smaller sections with drawer dividers or small baskets. Place your sorted items into compartments. Now that you have everything sorted, the dividers will help keep them that way.

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What’s in the Pro’s Drawer?

You might wonder what’s in my junk drawer. It probably matches many items you have in yours:

  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue stick
  • Stamps
  • Pens
  • Sticky notes
  • Tape measure
  • Rubber bands
  • Flashlight
  • Container for loose change
  • Lighter/matches
  • Screwdriver
  • Batteries
  • Extra felt pads for furniture feet

What’s not in my junk drawer? Keys. I really don’t want any spare keys to get lost in the jumble. I prefer a dedicated key rack so everyone knows where the extra car and house keys are kept.

When working on organizing your own kitchen’s junk drawer, the most important thing is to tailor it to suit your daily routine. Make sure you can quickly and easily access the items you need when you need them.

Lea Schneider is a professional organizational expert and writes her advice for homeowners for The Home Depot. Lea’s tips on cabinet drawer upkeep will help you keep your head when you go hunting for that hard-to-remember-where-you-put-it item. For cabinet storage planning and ideas, you can visit The Home Depot.

Categories Organization