Anyone else dread junk drawer organization?
Don’t be afraid to admit it. We all have that drawer in our house that looks like this…
The kitchen junk drawer just seems to breed more and more stuff. It can be overwhelming to peek into the overflowing black hole of odds and ends and start asking yourself, “How DO you organize a junk drawer?” Here's our easy solution to tackling that mess! Or if you want to watch our video on Junk Drawer organizing, just click below:
Junk Drawer Organization Step 1: Gather Supplies
Every good plan starts with being prepared. Here’s a few things you’ll need to gather up to make sure that you’re ready to go on your junk drawer organization project:
- Small Organizational Bins – we love these from the Dollar Tree! Cheap and completely functional
- The Decluttering Checklist – this will help you choose which items to keep and discard
- A trash bag – for dried out pens and the like that just need to go
- Simple cleaning supplies – an all purpose spray and a rag is all you’ll need
- (Optional) Labels – nothing too fancy, Avery labels or a Dymo label maker like this will do the trick
Junk Drawer Organization Step 2: Remove Everything
It probably doesn’t come as a shock that the first thing you need to do is take everything out of the drawer (hello Marie Kondo!) Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to touch the grimy rubber bands and feel if they spark joy.
But you do need to see what you’re working with from the beginning, otherwise you’re liable to get all your pens perfectly organized in the front of the drawer only to find more in the back that don’t fit into the container you picked out for them.
Now is also a good time to throw away obvious trash. Don’t take too long sorting through everything -but that crumpled up scrap of aluminum foil can definitely go.
Junk Drawer Organization Step 3: Clean
Now it’s time to grab that all purpose spray and rag. Take the opportunity to do a quick wipe down of the drawer while everything is out of it. Junk drawers (especially kitchen junk drawers!) are notorious for collecting dirt, crumbs, and all other sorts of dust and grime.
Junk Drawer Organization Step 4: Declutter
Next you’ll do what every good organizer does in any project they tackle: declutter. For some items this will be easy. I’m keeping my tape measure and screwdrivers and tape. But what about the coaster my daughter painted on Model Magic back in kindergarten or the old refrigerator magnets?
This is where you’ll pull out the Decluttering Checklist to help you decide what to keep and what to toss or donate. It helps if you ask yourself some simple questions so you know you’re making the best use of your space.
Junk Drawer Organization Step 5: Categorize
Now you should be left with only the items you want to keep. Start by putting like items together. Pens with the pens. Rubber bands with the rubber bands. You get the idea.
You may have a few one off items like a lemon zester or a flashlight. It’s okay to get a little creative with your categorizations: your lemon zester and potato peeler can go together just fine. If you’re left with any items that really don’t fit anywhere make sure that the junk drawer is the right home for that item. If you decide that it is, just set that item to the side by itself. Pro Tip: This is more fun to do with a friend!
Junk Drawer Organization Step 6: Arrange
Now it’s time to pull out your organization bins (like I said, I love these from the dollar tree!) It’ll be kind of like a puzzle to mix and match them to see how they fit best in your drawer. I often find that I have a couple of extra bins that don’t fit, but these are so incredibly cheap, I’m okay with tossing them if need be. Or, you could use them to organize other drawers in your kitchen or home.
Once you find an arrangement you like, I’d recommend pulling out your phone and snapping a quick picture. You’ll thank yourself in step eight!
Junk Drawer Organization Step 7: Containerize
Once you pick the containers that will fit best in your drawer, pull them back out to start filling them. Now you’ll go back to the categorized piles you made back in step five. I like to start by trying to put each category in its own bin, but sometimes that isn’t feasible.
Don’t be afraid to combine items as space requires. Since you’ve decluttered the items that will go in your junk drawer, you’ll still be able to see to grab what you need even if you end up needing to put your pens and screwdrivers together.
Also, remember that larger items may not require a container. A flashlight, bread knife, or hammer may be better off just set in the drawer instead of in a little bin.
Junk Drawer Organization Step 8: Re-place
Once you’ve filled the bins, it’s time to put them back in. Pull out that picture you took to make it easy to piece everything back together.
Open and close your newly organized junk drawer a few times to revel in that feeling of a newly cleaned space!
(Optional) Junk Drawer Organization Step 9: Label
This step is completely optional, but it’s a surefire way to make your junk drawer organization project complete! Place labels in the drawer under each bin so you know what goes where. I’d recommend doing this one bin at a time. Take out your basket of pens, make a quick label that says “pens” and stick it in the drawer, and put the basket back.
Now if you ever remove a bin for any reason, you’ll know how to put it right back where it goes!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a junk drawer?
A junk drawer is a catch all for your odds and ends, and oftentimes, they’re a little intimidating to sort through. A messy junk drawer is overwhelming – but an organized junk drawer can be a great asset to your home by keeping frequently used items close at hand.
What should I keep in my kitchen junk drawer?
Here’s a list of a few items that can be useful to keep on hand in your (not so junky) junk drawer.
- Pens & Pencils
- Basic Tools (screwdrivers, hammer & nails, etc)
- Tape and Command Strips
- Rubber Bands
- Letter Opener
- Post It Notes
How do you sort a junk drawer?
If you’re having a hard time sorting out the items in your junk drawer and deciding what to keep and what to toss, be sure to grab a free copy of my Reverse Decluttering Checklist to help you out.
What is the best way to organize kitchen drawers?
Looking for more specialized advice on how to organize your kitchen drawers (or cabinets or pantry?) Check out our post on How To Organize a Small Kitchen (on a budget!)
Looking for more inspiration? Here are some of our favorite Junk Drawer Organization posts from around the web.
The Spruce has some great suggestions for containers to use to organize your junk drawer.
Overstuffed breaks down the categories of items you’ll be looking to keep in your junk drawer.
Specifically looking for tips for your kitchen junk drawer? Check out what Nicole at Polished Habitat has to say
And lastly, if you’re wooden containers are your aesthetic, be sure to take a peek at Seeking Lavender Lane’s junk drawer organization project.