Cleaning Out the Junk Drawer – and Keeping It Clean

black eyed susans - cleaning out the junk drawer

“But our junk drawer remained a stubborn spot of chaos. Crammed with everything you can imagine (and some things you couldn’t imagine), it was a disorganized, useless mess. We have literally spent hours of our lives searching for things in this jumble of kitchen gear and random items that don’t belong elsewhere.”

– Zach and Clay at The Bitten Word

Cleaning out the junk drawer is often a dreaded task. After all, there’s a reason we call it the “junk” drawer.

Some suggest the solution is not having a “junk” drawer at all. The reality, however, is that most of us need a place to keep random oddments. If calling it a “junk drawer” leads to you actually keep junk in it, then try renaming it. Maybe “utility” or “random” would be better adjectives for this drawer.

We now have a desk (our only desk) in the kitchen, so no need to keep scissors, pens, Scotch tape, paperclips, rubber bands and such in the junk drawer. As a result, our “junk” is small enough to share space with our dishtowels and potholders.

We have a few basic tools (hammer, screwdriver, a mini measuring tape, and pliers), a box of razor blades (for scraping crud off the stove top glass), the teeny brush for cleaning the hummingbird feeder holes, a ball of kitchen twine, a box of matches, the garbage disposal tool, and a roll of masking tape (used to label stuff for the freezer).

“Junk drawers serve a vital purpose in our homes but are often our most frustrating experience when we’re trying to find things.”

– Kathryn Weber

What you need in your junk drawer may be different, of course. Maybe your kitchen is near the garage so the tools are already close by, but your desk is far away. Or maybe you use a lot of batteries so it’s good to have a few in the junk drawer.

Just don’t keep things unless you actually use them. And don’t keep more of things than you’re likely to use. If you hardly ever use those twist-ties you’ve been saving, it’s time to let some go.

Also, find another place to keep papers. A small vertical file on your desk will work a lot better for keeping them organized.

Because much of what we tend to keep in junk drawers is tiny, organizers are important. You don’t have to run out and buy them, though. Use empty Altoids, check or tissue boxes (cut off the top), or even plastic lids from bottles. If you need to buy something, consider an ice-cube tray, which is a lot cheaper than most “organizers.”

The junk drawer is likely to end up filled with junk again fairly quickly, so this is an area you’ll want to remember to declutter every few months. Add a reminder to your home maintenance calendar.

Do you have any tips to share about cleaning out the junk drawer?

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.