We all have them, right? Junk drawers, I mean. Mine even stayed ‘junky’ through a kitchen remodel. Frankly, it was still a mess almost six months later. So today’s post about how to organize a junk drawer is just as much for me as it is for you!

junk drawer 3

How to Organize a Junk Drawer

Some organizers will tell you to eliminate the kitchen junk drawer entirely. But I’m a big believer in having a spot for all the miscellaneous stuff that inevitably ends up in the kitchen. 

But the junk drawer doesn’t have to be the crazy disaster area that you’re used to seeing. It can be organized and orderly…and useful. 

Here’s how to organize a junk drawer. These instructions are specifically for a kitchen junk drawer but can be applied to a:

  • bathroom junk drawer
  • laundry room junk drawer
  • office junk drawer

1. Empty and sort the drawer or drawers

The first step in junk drawer organization is to remove everything from the junk drawer. Go ahead, dump it all out. Create a huge pile if necessary.

Then start sorting. Place like with like. Don’t try to be tidy with this.

The mess actually has to get worse before it can get better. Really. Just create piles of similar things.

2. Purge, Edit, and Eliminate

After your things are sorted, decide what you want to keep and what you don’t.

Get rid of anything that’s broken and unworthy of fixing. Go ahead, toss it. You don’t need it. Next, donate to local and national non-profits any items that are in good shape but that you haven’t used in a while. Then sort by season, color, name, or any other way you need to organize what’s left.

Things That Belong in a Junk Drawer

The key to a well-organized and functional junk drawer is to only keep the things that are useful. Things that are used daily, weekly, or that may be needed in a pinch. 

  • pens, pencils, erasers
  • paper clips, thumbtacks, and other small items
  • scissors
  • extra keys
  • spare change
  • screwdrivers, screws
  • hammer, nails
  • flashlights, batteries
  • matches, lighter
  • rubber bands, sewing kits
  • phone charger, earbuds
junk drawer 3

Things That Don’t Belong in a Junk Drawer

Things that shouldn’t be put in a junk drawer are items that are unused items, belong in another place or wouldn’t help you in a pinch. Stuff like: 

  • bills, paperwork
  • medicines
  • takeout menus 

3. Wipe the Drawer Clean and Line

After you remove everything from the junk drawer and purge the unnecessary and unhelpful items, give the drawer a good cleaning. Wipe it out, and vacuum it if necessary to remove all crumbs and debris. 

If your drawers are old like some of ours are (we added on to our kitchen and gave it a facelift a few years ago, but the guts of many of our drawers and cabinets are about 20 years old), you may want to add a pretty or plain liner to freshen up the drawer. 

junk drawer 1

4. Assign everything a home

All the items you decided you will be keeping need to have a specific place. Once you have sorted and eliminated, you should have a pretty good idea of how much space you need for each grouping inside your drawer.

Assign the things you use often places within easy reach for easy access at the front of the drawer. Things that are used infrequently can go towards the back of the drawer.

Create a Mini Junk Area Within Your Junk Drawer

Plan to keep a little drawer space for tossing random items in when you don’t have time to find them a home. This way the whole drawer won’t become a mess again, but you also won’t have things sitting out on the counters in the meantime. 

junk drawer 2

5. Measure and shop for containers/organizers

This step is my personal favorite in the whole junk drawer organization process! After your ‘keep items’ have a place, you can shop for pretty containers and labels.

But be sure to do it after the first three steps have been completed. You don’t truly know what you need until you have sorted, eliminated, and assigned homes for your things. It’s also a bit of a puzzle to figure out what fits where.

Make sure you measure the height of your drawer as well as the width, and depth of your junk drawer before buying containers though – it’s no fun to choose them all only to realize they don’t fit into your kitchen drawer the way you thought they would.

Don’t forget to shop your own house too for containers to corral all the mess and then check places like the dollar store and craft store for some great storage solutions.

6. Label it and put it all away

Use a Cricut to make pretty labels, or use a label maker for simple labels. Heck, you can even use a piece of masking tape and a marker if money is tight (try cutting the tape straight to at least make it look tidy). Just be sure to label everything so that you (and everyone else in your house) know where to put things away. In a junk drawer, this is best done on the bottom of empty containers before you add the ‘stuff’.

7. Maintain, maintain, maintain

You now need to put things in their place when you are finished with them. If you can’t put things back right away, make sure you do it at the end of every day. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes in each room to get everything back in its place every day. You just have to do it. Junk drawers don’t have to be a disaster!

Change systems if needed

If something in your new organized drawer isn’t working, change it. There’s no need to force yourself to work with a system that doesn’t work. Just tweak the basics that you’ve started with as you find you need to. If you find the containers don’t work for you or the labels aren’t sticking, try something else!

The Best Junk Drawer Organizers

Adjustable Drawer Dividers

Some drawers need dividers instead of containers or bins to implement organization.  We use drawer dividers in one of our drawers that holds larger items, like oven mitts and Costco-sized parchment paper. 

Adjustable Drawer Dividers

The above links are affiliate links.

Clear Acrylic Drawer Organizers

Clear acrylic containers are great if you have white drawers or things that you want to see easily. They’re also a fairly economical option. 

Clear Acrylic Drawer Organizers

The above links are affiliate links.

Expandable Wood Drawer Organizers

Wooden drawer organizers are the most beautiful organizers in my opinion and go perfectly with custom or bespoke drawers. But they are a little on the pricier side. 

Expandable Wood Organizers

The above links are affiliate links.

Dollar Tree Drawer Organizers

Dollar Tree and other dollar stores have some really great and inexpensive organization options too, so make sure you check there. 

There ya have it! The easy 7 steps to organizing a junk drawer in 30 minutes or less!