Organize Your Junk Drawer

This article will help you organize your junk drawer and transform it into a functional space. Almost everyone has a junk drawer that is usually located in the kitchen. The items inside it are not necessarily all "junk". This is the place you store items that doesn't belong anywhere else, but are useful.

A good “junk drawer” must have a flashlight and a multi-purpose tool. It is also a good place to store batteries, spare keys, timer(s), takeout menus, an extension cord, a measuring tape and chargers for mobile devices (like cell phones and tablets). Organize your junk drawer and save time instead of searching for that spare key, flashlight in a power outage or the timer for lights when you go on vacation.

To organize your junk drawer, dump everything onto a flat surface like the countertop or kitchen table.

Sort through the contents, discard or recycle anything that’s broken or you don’t need like expired coupons, mystery keys, expired condiment packets from carryout, never used old business cards etc.

Donate items that you don’t need but are in good condition.

Move anything that belongs elsewhere to its appropriate location. It is a good idea to organize your junk drawer after you organize the rest of the house so that there's a place for items that should go elsewhere. This will prevent items from ending up in the junk drawer later.

For example, file the receipts in the receipt magazine (explained in the home office article), screws and tools back in the garage, light bulbs in the laundry room or basement/storage area, pens/pencils/markers, paper clips etc. in the desk drawer and so on.

Then sort the remaining items that are going in the junk drawer into groups by category such as rubber bands, twist ties, batteries, spare keys, friend's keys, takeout menus, cell phone/tablet chargers, matches, letter opener, stamps, address labels, scotch tapes, business cards (for carpet cleaners, plumbers, electricians, lawn care and other household maintenance) and so on. If you don’t have a home office or if it is on a different level of the house you can keep some pens/pencils/markers, sticky notes, paper clips and thumbtacks in the junk drawer.

The next step when you organize your junk drawer is to put everything back in the drawer.

Use a drawer divider or a set of trays, boxes or containers to group each set of like items. This prevents items from sliding around and getting mixed up when you open and close the drawer.

You can make your own drawer dividers using thick cardboard pieces (or thin pieces of plywood or MDF) cut to size. If using plywood or MDF, cut it a little smaller than the depth of the drawer (but needs to sit snugly) so that you can put scratch guards on both ends to prevent damage to the drawers.

You can use an ice cube or muffin tray or empty egg cartons, votive candleholders, small yogurt containers and tofu tubs to store small things like thumbtacks, paper clips, safety pins, buttons, rubber bands and twist ties.

You can also use silverware trays, small jars, gift boxes, plastic food storage bags and containers or a combination of these to organize your junk drawer.

Consider purchasing key tags from supermarkets or hardware stores to label spare keys. Place labeled keys together in a box or container. No more fumbling to find the right key!

I reuse check book boxes to store batteries. Use separate boxes for each type (AA, AAA, D etc.) of battery.

For longer items like pens, pencils, candles, flash lights etc. you can reuse tissue boxes or cereal boxes. Cut the top off, use packing tape to reinforce the bottom and sides and use them inside the drawer to group like items. Another option is to reuse diaper wipes tubs.

When storing chargers or extension cords, fold and tie them with rubber band or twist ties so that they don’t get all mangled up together. It is also a good idea to label them.

I use a 3 compartment food container to sort and store my coins.

I am not an avid crafter or sewer. But I keep some needles and threads in a box in my junk drawer for small repairs like loose buttons or to mend seams and hemline.

Maintenance is crucial. Go through your junk drawer on a regular basis and get rid off unwanted items so that it doesn't get out of control again. This will also help you to have a general idea of the contents in your junk drawer.

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