How To Organize a Junk Drawer in 5 Quick Steps

How To Organize a Junk Drawer in 5 Quick Steps

No matter how hard we strive towards minimalism in our homes, nearly every home has one drawer dedicated to storing all things without a place. Known as a junk drawer, this is where you’ll find small items like screwdrivers, batteries, pens, and tape, all living together in mismatched harmony. 

Junk drawers are full of useful tools. The problem is, they’re a pain. 

Half the time, we’re not even sure what’s in a junk drawer, and after digging through one, we don’t always find what we’re looking for. 

But, just like any other drawer in the home, a junk drawer can be organized. 


Junk drawer organization before photo

Junk drawer organization after photo


The 5 basic steps to organizing a junk drawer are:

  1. Empty the junk drawer
  2. Toss the real junk
  3. Keep the essentials
  4. Divide your drawer into sections
  5. Replace contents 

Once everything is in place, your junk drawer may become your favorite drawer in the home. 


1. Empty the junk drawer


First, empty your junk drawer completely. Having a clean slate to work from will make it easier to decide what to keep. You may need to sanitize and clean it as well. 


2. Toss the real junk


Give the contents of your junk drawer a quick look: What do you see? Oftentimes, junk drawers have actual junk mixed in with useful tools. 


Toss anything that doesn’t serve a purpose, like:

  • Old batteries
  • Packaging
  • Instructions for appliances you no longer own 
  • Pens without ink (and ink without pens)

Once you’ve tossed the literal junk, you’re ready to choose which of the remaining items belong in the drawer. 



3. Keep the essentials

What should go in a junk drawer

As counterintuitive as it may seem, not everything belongs in a junk drawer. 

What should be in a junk drawer

Your junk drawer is most useful when it contains tools you use frequently and/or items you’d need quick access to in an emergency. Items that typically fit this description include:


General Tools

  • Box cutter
  • Screwdriver
  • Measuring tape 
  • Superglue


Emergency Tools

  • Fresh batteries
  • Battery tester
  • Small flashlight
  • USB cable / phone charger

Frequently Used Tools

  • Scissors
  • Pens
  • Sharpie


Set aside anything that doesn’t belong in this drawer but which may be worth keeping elsewhere in the home. 

Once you’ve decided what really belongs in your junk drawer, you’re ready to organize.


4. Divide the drawer into sections

Adjustable drawer dividers

You’ve decided what you’re keeping, and so now you’ll want to make these tools easy to find. That’s the point of organization, after all!

Divide each section of the drawer by context. The list above could be used to create a three-section layout. You’d have one section for general tools, one for emergency tools, and one for frequently used tools. 

Use a set of adjustable drawer dividers to create space for each type of essential. 

Once your drawer dividers are in place, you’re ready to bring back the goods.


5. Add the essentials to your junk drawer

The last step in organizing a junk drawer is to add back your pared-down list of essentials. 

Depending on the aesthetic you’re after, and your desired level of organization, you may wish to use containers to hold small items like batteries and pens. While probably unnecessary, some people do prefer granular division. 

Remember, organization has no strict rules. It’s about what makes the most sense to you. Organize in a way that makes sense in your own household. 

Share your organization tips 

Do you have tips for organizing a junk drawer (or another drawer in the house?). Feel free to share them in the comments. Let us know what you’d like to see organized next!

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