Add Some Organization to Your Unruly Junk Drawer

The junk drawer has a really bad reputation. In reality, it’s often full of things you regularly need — if only you could find them.

Transforming this tangled mess of cords, clips and coupons into a handy home for essentials is not easy. Organization, after all, requires that you get rid of the junk.

Follow these helpful tips to help tame your junk drawer:

Clean slate

Start by emptying the drawer. Dump everything onto a table or counter so you can see it. Then, start sorting.

Throw away or recycle things that are broken or that you don’t use. Be ruthless. Do all the pens actually write? Do you really need the business cards of people you don’t remember meeting?

Then ask yourself: Do all these things really belong here? By simply moving receipts to your office, appliance manuals to your household file, buttons to your sewing basket and loose coins to your bank, your drawer will quickly become more manageable.

Divide and conquer

Sort your remaining junk drawer contents by type: pens and pencils in one pile, rubber bands in another, notepads in another.

Once you’ve determined what really needs to be stored here and how much of it you have to store, you can seek out containers to help hold each set of items. You can buy fancy organizing systems that cost $40-$50 and, if they make you feel good about your hard work and encourage you to keep things neat, they’re certainly worth the expenditure.

If you prefer to organize on the cheap, you can do that, too. An ice cube tray or egg carton, for example, can keep tiny items in place. Old silverware drawer dividers, empty margarine tubs or cheese boxes also make great containers.

Secure and label

Once you’ve figure out how you want these containers to sit in the drawer you can use sticky-back Velcro tabs (available at fabric stores) to hold them in place. Simply fasten one side of the Velcro tab to the bottom of the drawer and the other side to the bottom of the container; press containers into the tabs.

Use store-bought labels or create your own word or picture labels to help others know where items belong.

Pulling it all together

Tackle this project when you’ve got plenty of time to devote to it; 15 or 20 minutes won’t cut it. If you don’t allow yourself enough time, you’ll simply shove the piles back into the drawer and make the situation worse than before you started.

Make cleaning your junk drawer part of your monthly cleaning list. Weed out items that don’t belong, or the drawer will quickly return to its unruly roots. And don’t forget to let family members about your new organizational system. Explain what belongs in the drawer and what doesn’t, and warn them that you’ll be periodically throwing away items that have been dumped in there.