How to Clean and Organize a Junk Drawer

What’s your junk drawer looking like these days? If it’s anything like mine, it’s probably four inches deep in dead batteries, used twist ties, and other useless junk. After spending an hour looking for an allen wrench in my kitchen junk drawer recently, I decided it was time to get organized.

The whole purpose of having a junk drawer is for storing all those bits and pieces of junk, small tools, hardware, and other small items that really don’t have a home. Without regular cleaning however, the junk drawer turns into a disorganized mess which prevents us from finding the stuff we need. If you are tired of digging through your junk drawer just to find a simple pair of pliers, here are a few tips that can help you get more organized.

Remove large clutter first. Since my kitchen junk drawer is mostly used for storing small tools, removing the tools first frees up all kinds of space so I can see what sorts of odds and ends are left to deal with. If you keep tools in your junk drawer too, or piles of pens & pencils, or other large clutter, remove them from the drawer and set them aside temporarily while you turn your attention to the rest of the mess.

Dispose of trash next. Things like grimy candles, used twist ties, dead batteries, wrappers, broken pencils, empty blister packs, melted crayons, and so on should be fished out of the drawer and tossed in the garbage or set aside for recycling. In the past, I’ve noticed that nearly 25% of what ends up in my kitchen junk drawer is usually trash.

Pull out what’s obviously in the wrong spot. With the tools and trash gone from a junk drawer, it’s easy to see all those small items that obviously were put in the wrong spot. Instead of setting these aside too, take 15 minutes or so to return these misplaced items back to where they really belong.

Grab a magnet. Because junk drawers are so crammed, it’s quite common for small nails, tacks, and other small pieces of metal hardware to spill out of their containers. Gathering these up is easy when you use a magnet. No magnet? A vacuum cleaner hose with a nylon stretched over the opening can be used to suck up the nails so they can be returned to a container.

Organize what’s left. Getting down to the nitty gritty of organizing a junk drawer is coming up with some sort of system for keeping things separated. My father in law used to use empty prescription bottle to sort odds and ends; I prefer using small “snack size” storage bags because they hold more and won’t roll around the drawer. How I organize little items is by grouping similar things together such as washers in one bag, picture hardware in another, good batteries in another.

Vacuum out the drawer. The final step in cleaning and organizing a junk drawer is vacuuming up all the crumbs and junk that gravitate to the corners and the back of the drawer. Instead of dumping out the drawer however, I will pull all the junk to the front of the drawer so I can vacuum the back with a crevice tool. When that’s done, the junk is pushed to the back of the drawer so the front can be vacuumed.

Once the junk drawer has been cleaned out and organized, it’s time to decide which tools can be returned to the drawer and which ones should go out to the garage. The ones that stay in the drawer can be placed in a small silverware tray along with related items. This makes them easy to find the next time they are needed.

More by this contributor:
4 easy fixes for a noisy dishwasher.
How to replace the drip pans on a range top stove
How to hook up the ice maker on a new refrigerator.

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