Tips: Take Control of Your Junk Drawer

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Everybody’s got one—the inevitable junk drawer. What would you do without this catchall container of matches, batteries, nails, stamps, safety pins, birthday candles, useless keys and whatever else the cat dragged in? You don’t have to live without it—just get these odds and ends better organized.


1. Remove the drawer’s contents and place them on a table or countertop. Protect the work surface by putting down an old towel first.

2. Throw out the true junk—unidentified keys, expired coupons, dead pens, dried-up glue and broken clothespins. Keep only what you really intend to use.

3. Group the remaining items into piles, such as office supplies, household helpers and mailing items.

4. Relocate those things that belong somewhere else. Decks of cards go back with other games, assorted hardware to the toolkit and tees to the golf bag.

5. Organize the drawer with containers large enough to hold each pile. Recycle check or cigar boxes, or purchase drawer trays to create sections. Stick with square or rectangular shapes to maximize drawer efficiency.

6. Replace orderly piles in the drawer compartments. Sign up for occasional purging sessions to keep your junk drawer from getting too gunked up again.

Side Bar

Restrict yourself to just one junk drawer in the house.

Snack-size zipper-lock plastic bags are great containers for small items such as loose hardware (a set of screws or other parts). Put a piece of masking tape on the outside and label with a permanent label marker if you know what they belong to.