7 Steps to Organize Your Junk Drawer & Control the Chaos

We promise it's one of the most satisfying jobs you can tackle, especially with a few tips.

Published March 28, 2024
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woman hands tidying up cutlery in drawer general cleaning at kitchen

When it comes to clutter catch-alls, the junk drawer takes the top prize (at least in my house). Before you toss another paper clip or plastic toy in there, set aside a few minutes for junk drawer organization. I promise it won't be painful; it's actually one of the most satisfying cleaning projects you can tackle.

How to Organize Your Junk Drawer in 30 Minutes

Unless you're a super organized person, the junk drawer can feel like a daunting task. The thing is, it's just one drawer, and you earn an amazing sense of accomplishment when you're done with it. It's all about having the right supplies (and a ruthless organization strategy).

1. Invest in Some Awesome Junk Drawer Organizers Before You Begin

You wouldn't start a painting project without brushes and rollers, so don't start your junk drawer organization project without the tools you need for success. Pick up the essentials ahead of time.

  • Small containers - You can use a full drawer organizer, but I've had much better luck with small containers. You can customize them to meet your needs and use only the sizes that actually hold your stuff. I love Vtopmart Clear Organizers and use them in drawers all over my house.
  • Sticky notes - Organizing junk drawers takes a lot of sorting, and it's really helpful to have piles that are labeled. I use Post-It Super Sticky Notes because they don't fall off of stuff.
  • Drawer liner - Using small containers is perfect for a junk drawer, but the downside is they can slide around a little. That's a totally solvable problem if you add a drawer liner that has a non-slip surface. I like Gorilla Grip Drawer & Shelf Liner because it does the job and comes in cute colors.
Quick Tip

You'll also need a vacuum, your favorite all-purpose cleaner, and some cleaning cloths. You're going to have this drawer looking awesome in no time.

2. Get Your Trash and Recycling Bins Out

Bring your trash and recycling over to the drawer so you can throw stuff away. Even though you thought it was worth saving at one point, it often doesn't deserve a place in your home. You're going to be tossing a lot of stuff.

3. Dump the Drawer on Your Counter

Take that drawer out and dump the whole thing on your kitchen counter. This is actually the hardest part. Looking at the pile of stuff can feel overwhelming, but you've got this. You can't sort it if you can't see it, after all.

4. Start Sorting (Use Sticky Notes)

Now it's time to start sorting. Write the names of family members or other rooms on the sticky notes and put them in different sections of your counter. Also, add a sticky note for things to donate. Then pick something up from the pile and put it in one of the categories (or throw it away).

Here are some of the categories I have when I organize my junk drawer.

  • Bedroom
  • Kid's room
  • Laundry room
  • Desk/home office
  • Bathroom
  • Garage
  • Stuff to donate
  • Junk drawer

Take everything that goes to a different room to its proper spot and then sort your junk drawer items by type and size (so all pens together, all tools together, etc.).

Quick Tip

Set a timer for this part, since it's easy to get distracted. I give myself 20 minutes tops to sort. Only pick something up once so you can avoid rethinking your decisions about things.

5. Clean Out the Drawer

Now that you've got everything out of the drawer, give it a good cleaning. Vacuum out the dust and wipe down the inside. Tighten the hardware if it needs it while you're at it. Then cut the drawer liner to fit the bottom of the drawer.

6. Put Items in Their New Containers

Different utensils in open desk drawer indoors

Now for the fun part! It's time to put the junk drawer items into their new containers based on their size and shape. Large items like hammers or rulers might not need a container, but everything else should have a new home.

7. Organize the Containers in the Drawer

Place all the containers into the junk drawer, grouping like things together (like paper clips in a container next to pens). Then stand back and admire your work.

Related: 5 Stress-Free Tips to Decide What to Keep When Decluttering

Junk Drawer Organization Tips and Tricks

The basic process of organizing junk drawers is easy, but there are some things you can do to make it more fun and productive. Here are a few awesome ideas.

  • Enlist the help of other people in the family. Ask everyone to grab something that goes in a different room and take care of it.
  • Be ruthless. If it has been sitting in your junk drawer for a year and you haven't used it, toss it or donate it. That random furniture screw doesn't always deserve a long-term place in your home.
  • Get creative with containers. You can reuse vintage trinket dishes, baby food jars, and other little items to hold things in the drawer.
  • Add a folder to your junk drawer to store papers and things you need to reference from time to time. This will keep the drawer from overflowing with random notes and letters.
  • Set a schedule to reorganize your junk drawer every few weeks. It won't take long, and it will help you make your effort last.

Related: 50 Organization Tools for Effective Order

One of the Most Rewarding Organization Tasks

It can seem daunting at first, but organizing a junk drawer is actually one of the most rewarding household tasks. It's quick and easy, and when you're done, it looks so much better. If only everything were so satisfying.

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7 Steps to Organize Your Junk Drawer & Control the Chaos