Organizing Junk Drawers

Junk drawers are the dirty little secret of everyone’s house. Here’s how to get them organized!

Today is Day 20 of the 30 Day Organizing Series and we’re going to tackle junk drawers.

Junk drawers are probably one of the worst clutter nightmares on the face of the earth. I have found that if a drawer is not given a specific duty, it automatically grows up to be full of junk. Useful junk, maybe. But junk nonetheless.

I don’t have very many drawers in my kitchen. Only six small ones and one larger one (maybe that is more than I think, I just know it doesn’t feel like enough). The big one is for silverware, measuring cups, and measuring spoons. Two of the small ones are for all those kitcheny gadgets we all have. One is for aluminum foil, cling wrap, plastic baggies, toothpicks, et al. One is for towels, and one is for hot pads.

That leaves only one. And of course it is full of junk!

Let’s get a closer look at all that junk, shall we?

The majority of items in this drawer are definitely most practically kept in the kitchen. Things like birthday candles, bag clips, straws, and batteries are fine to live in that drawer. I am not so cool with empty plastic bags that the dish sponge came in or tea lights that have seen better days!

Lots of random writing utensils, papers, and things that I will never need again in all of my life. Also I don’t know where some of these things came from, much less what they are used for. In the garbage those things went!

The waffle maker we received for our wedding 15 years ago finally bit the dust this summer. We bought a new one, and obviously the instruction booklet got tossed in the junk drawer. Please raise your hand if you ever refer to these booklets once you have your appliance up and running. Anyone? Because I NEVER do.

I threw all caution to the wind and threw that instruction manual out. I figure that everything in the world is online these days, and if I really need it, I can look it up on the interwebs.

After I took everything out of the drawer, I washed the sorter thing that’s in there (which really has helped to keep things more organized with that drawer–it’s just gotten out of hand)(again). Then I sorted all the items in the drawer. Some of them had homes in other parts of the house and I immediately reunited them with those homes. Some things were garbage. The rest could be sorted into a few main categories:

You can bet on my cluttered up life that I labeled that holder thing right up! (Sorry for the crappy photos…I am too lazy to retake them.) My favorite label maker is always at the ready for helping me get organized. This is the one I have and I absolutely love it.

Not everything fit into the holder thing, of course (if anyone wants to tell me what this holder thing is called, my imprecise language will thank you). But that was okay because there is some room on the side for extra stuff. So I put them in baggies and labeled the baggies.

I got my holder thing at Goodwill, but this one and this one both look similar to mine and have plenty of slots for organizing.

I’m hoping the labels will be the thing that keeps this drawer from becoming a junky mess again.

Be still my organization-loving heart!

Believe it or not, that was not the worst junk drawer in my house. I had the two desk drawers in the entryway, of course–but those are empty right now waiting for me to get around to washing all of the winter gear. Then they will have a more specific job than they have had up to this point.

Then I had the desk drawer in my actual desk. The one whose top I cleaned a couple weeks ago, and the very one I am sitting at right now as I type away on my little blog.

So that desk has a drawer. And that drawer is a bona fide junk drawer.

And I hate it.

I just can’t even begin to list the stuff I found in this (not very big!) drawer. Sharpie paint pens, instruction booklets, my external hard drive, lots of USB cords and jump drives, the thermometer that I can never find when someone is sick, love notes from my children, craft supplies, candy wrappers, business cards, random office supplies, and more. Bria’s old glasses were stuffed in there, even. I remember I had to hide them from her because she didn’t like her new ones even though they had a better prescription. That was two years ago now…

I even found some of those cute swag buttons that JCPenney gave out a few Christmases ago. You’d be proud of me, though, because I threw them away. Except two. I put the two cutest ones in my jewelry box–maybe I’ll wear them on my jacket at Christmas. We’ll see.

Most of the items in that drawer had homes elsewhere. And if they didn’t, I figured out another place for them or got rid of it altogether.

I wanted my desk drawer to be functional and practical. So I only allowed notecards, my blog planner, andmy to-do journal to live in it for now. My to-do journal kind of travels the house with me, but it needs to be at my desk a lot of the time.

I also let my camera’s memory cards, post-it flags, pencil lead, and jump drives stay.

Oh man. How nice and peaceful that drawer looks, don’t you think? I was always a little afraid to open it before!

I had another junk drawer in my office. It wasn’t very junky–just a few random things. I decided to put it to use holding things like the stapler and the 3-hole punch, which are always out on the table being annoying.

And…yes. I still have one more junk drawer left to declutter. It’s in the dining room. It used to hold all of the cell phone chargers, but now that we have a better place for the cell phone chargers (to see it click here: DIY electronic device charging station), the old drawer has decided to be a junk drawer.

This is entirely the fault of my children who have sneakily used it to hide the clutter that they don’t want to put away when they are in charge of cleaning up the dining room. I kid you not when I tell you that I have found dirty socks in that drawer.

I don’t know what I’m going to use it for now, but I better think of something! I’m learning that when drawers have an assigned function, they perform well at that function and rarely become junky. I’m also finding that the more I am giving things in my house a place to live, the less need I feel to shove them into random drawers.

Also, the more I get rid of, the less need I have to shove things into random drawers.

Less stuff=fewer junk drawers.

Today’s assignment:

  • Think about all the drawers in your house–are any of them junk drawers?
  • If so, would you like them to function otherwise?
  • Clean those drawers out.
  • Get rid of as much as possible and put the rest away where it belongs.
  • If you can, label and sort items you need to keep into a tray sorter thing. You can also cut up old cereal boxes to use as sorters or find any other containers that will work for you.
  • Assign the drawers a practical function.

In case you’re wondering, I’m calling my kitchen junk drawer a utility drawer now. I’m banishing the word junk from drawers.

Because we don’t need to keep junk! Not in drawers, and not anywhere else!

What are your best tips for keeping drawers organized?

Find all of the posts in this 31 Day Challenge here: A Place for Everything: 31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace.

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Alisha Schultze

Great ideas!! TFS!!

Christine @ Rustic & Refined

I love those drawer organizers too! They always make life so much easier! Thanks for sharing it…

Geri Givens Taylor

First of all, you are only allowed one junk drawer in your house! At least that is what I told a friend who had at least seven. 😀
I have very good intentions but, like your hook for you keys, they are usually not followed upped by the folks that live in this house! We'll just blame the dogs.
I have a special drawer for my camera's memory cards in a little box and that is where you go when you need an extra memory card because you can NEVER find one in the camera bag. The thing is, they are not supposed to go in the little box until the photos have been uploaded on the Mac. The result…little memory cards scattered across the desk. 😛

Hilda Rodgers

"Less stuff = fewer junk drawers." That's profound. Great job on your drawers!

Mandee Racer Pogue

I bow to your organizational supremacy! I really need to take a note from you and exercise this in my own kitchen!

Heather Greenwood

BRILLIANT!!! I totally need to do this!!!


Why haven't I ever thought of using an organizer in the junk drawer? And labeling it? I need to get much better at labeling. I love your idea of naming it the utility drawer instead of the junk drawer. I am loving your series, thanks for sharing!


I don't know that I would have offered to cook them when he was called out on church business if I had known the time commitment. But, I got my drawers done while they were cooking. 🙂 But yes, I told him that was my first and last time with that particular recipe, LOL!


So I understand. I think it's weird…but we have already sent several snapchats (snaps? chats?) today. And yes, I did send her big eyes. 🙂


right back atcha! <3


We all could!


I'm hoping that the indoctrination sticks!


It is overwhelming to me, too. But, a little at a time. Just choose one thing–perhaps the one you use most that is never in its proper place.

That said, I agree that is crazy how quickly the organization can disintegrate when you aren't on top of it. I'm hoping to stay on top of it this time (which is at least the millionth time I've said that!).


The labels were my brilliant idea the other night, since I've been the label crazy woman lately. So why not the junk drawer, too? And I bought that organizer at a garage sale thinking it would help the junk drawer stay more organized. It has, for the most part, but it still gets out of hand after a while.


Ha ha! Either profound or really, really obvious. 🙂


Hanging my head in shame. I definitely have way too many junk drawers! But I'm realizing I have all these drawers that could really help me organize things…I'm still trying to figure out what to use them all for! Oh the possibilities!


And thank you for so tactfully teaching me that they are called drawer organizers instead of "holder thing." 🙂


What was helpful for us was to put the key hook right in front of the door where we come in, so it's RIGHT THERE when we walk in the house. It's almost harder NOT to use the hook.

Kristy Boxberger

I like the idea of making a list of things I can never find and finding a home for those things.


I hang a wooden frame with 5 hooks in a wall in the entrance of my house! I hang my keys, my husband's, car keys and others we use everyday. The hardest part was to make my husband use this key system, it took him 2 weeks, but now he puts his keys in their place every time! We are all happy. I also have a table under the keys where we put our cell phones and wallets. So when we are in a hurry the important things to take with us are keys, car keys, wallet and cell and they are all in one place near the door.