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Junk Drawer: Why Would Anyone Live Without? Quick Guide to Organizing Yours

Updated on March 18, 2013

A mess!


Everyone has a junk drawer, right?

It’s the catch-all of daily living. The detritus of life. It’s the “I don’t have time to deal with this right now.” It’s the quick put-away place for the “I’ll get to it later.”

It’s also the “I don’t know what this is but if I throw it away, then I’ll rediscover later what it is and kick myself.” Grrr.

The Convenience of Having a Junk Drawer

One screw left over from some job? Not worth the steps to the garage or basement to find its like-mates and put away. Leave it in the junk drawer, where it will accumulate with other leftover screws until enough screws make it worth the effort to put away.

Not just screws though. Where does all this stuff come from? A slow accumulation day by day: bag ties from the newly opened box of trash can liners, rubber bands holding stems of broccoli together, pencils that seem to grow on every clutter spot, an extension cord used for a quick job, a handy screwdriver. All useful items but too much trouble to make a trip just to put away one thing. There it goes…into the junk drawer!

More Than Junk

Ideally, the junk drawer would be called the useful drawer, because its fundamental purpose is to have items nearby that are frequently needed but that don’t all belong to one class of things. Here’s the place to keep a Phillips screwdriver, scissors, scotch tape, pencil or pen, measuring tape, and permanent marker. Maybe even the hammer and an extension cord.

This handy drawer makes life a little easier, quicker to find the things you need for a spontaneous fix up of something. A better name for this ubiquitous home necessity might be easy drawer, useful drawer, or handy drawer. But junk drawer it remains.

Akro Mils 10744 44-Drawer Hardware and Craft Cabinet, Red and Gray
Akro Mils 10744 44-Drawer Hardware and Craft Cabinet, Red and Gray

Ideal for workbench storage of nails, bolts, screws, etc.


Just Do It!

The hardest part of organizing a junk drawer is deciding to do it.

After that, it’s much easier and quicker than you think.

Step 1: Empty EVERYTHING out of the drawer in a heap onto the floor or a table.

You will get the greatest satisfaction from starting from scratch. Empty it all.

Step 2: Clean the drawer.

Do a good job, this may be the first cleaning your drawer has had in years and it may be (admit it) the last time or at least years before you do it again. (Ours? Dare I say? Six years. I know, because that’s when our new kitchen was built.)

Step 3: Sort the heap into like items. (Mine broke down into 5 big categories I will simplify with one word: pencils, clips, hardware, tools, and glue.)

Step 4: Pull out the things that really don’t belong in your junk drawer and put those away.

Wet naps went into the picnic basket. Nails and screws were sorted into workshop bins. Velcro and buttons went into the sewing chest, and so forth.

Step 5. Use containers to keep some items together.

Pencils, pens and markers get their own box in which scissors, tape and glue share space. Clips go into their own small container as do rubber bands and ties.

Step 6. Arrange everything into the drawer.

Put the things you want quick access to at the front (scissors and pencils), those used less often (flashlights and duct tape) at the back. No brainer.



Finished...okay, it's not beautiful but it works.


How Long Will It Take?

I thought it would take hours, maybe days, to do this job. It didn’t. It took a little over an hour that went surprisingly fast. I did it at a leisurely pace, and it actually became entertaining, as we found mystery items and tried to figure them out.

The Best Part, a Pleasant Surprise!

Even better, it made more of a difference that I expected. Now every time I open that drawer I instantly find what I’m looking for….permanent marker, scissors, or clip! Right there. It’s so nice not to do the irritating dig through the junk to find the one thing you need.

What ARE these things????


There’s some kind of mental lift we experience when we bring order even to some small chaotic corner in our lives.

There were some fun discoveries and the “Mysterious 6”, pictured here. We had a fun little discussion about what they could be. A template, a top, a fastener? We decided it was time to give up on most of them, yet….couldn’t do it. A couple of them went right back into the junk drawer.

Mystery Key


My Favorite Junk Drawer Find

It’s this Yale & Towne key, probably obtained by the original owner of our house, built in 1940, which still opens the door to our garage. It’s a keeper!

If you don’t have a junk drawer, please let me know your secret. How could anyone possibly live without one!

Do You Have a Junk Drawer? More than one? VOTE HERE!

Two, three....more?

How many junk drawers do you have?

See results


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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      I really love this hub. And here are the reasons why:

      1. This is an excellent piece of writing. Honestly, it is amazing.

      2, I loved the way you worded this hub.

      3. Graphics, superb.

      4. This hub was helpful, informative and very interesting.

      5. Voted Up and all of the choices.

      6. I loved your topic of this hub.

      You are certainly a gifted writer. Please keep up the fine work.


      Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama

    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Thanks Romano. I think it's about time to clean out my junk drawer again. It's a job that's never done. ;)

    • Romano Arnesto profile image

      Romano Arnesto 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      It's so useful. I had to arrange mine as you took the hint doing yours.

      Thanks for sharing the experience. It helps!!!

    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Wow, Audra Leigh, 6 am? I am impressed. Thanks for attributing that motivation to me but you deserve the credit. Being up at 6 am in and of itself is an accomplishment for some of us.

      My sister collects old keys like the Yale & Towne and makes art sculptures out of them.

      Thanks for checking in and for your comment.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      JsParker, you have motivated me at the godley hour of 6am to clean today!

      The Yale & Towne key was a great find! How cool is that!

    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      HaHa. Come to think of it, we have a junk BASEMENT. Better than a junk HOUSE, I guess. Unfortunately, we know people with of one of those, too.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      A great uncle had a junk ROOM and I fell into it through a door ajar when I was 5. People had to dig me out. lol

    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      I like that, "Drawer of Many Things." Somehow it rings of eastern meditation and gentle respect for those things. Good poets like Mary Oliver and Thich Nhat Hanh could write soulful poetry about junk drawers.

      I'm curious about the drawer that is the ".5". Is it different from the others?

    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Hello Lady E, nice to see you again. I personally think it impossible to live without junk drawers. It does make me wonder, though, seeing those articles and photos of minimalists who have NOTHING left out on their counters and shelves. Do you think they have junk drawers? Maybe even more than the rest of us? I'm tempted to say, of course they do! Then I remember the well-known-in-these-parts rich eccentric guy who owns two houses next door to each other. One they sleep in, the other they cook in so it doesn't mess up the first house. He has maids and gardeners. Does he have junk drawers? I'll never know.

    • Etherealenigma profile image

      Sandra M. Urquhart 

      6 years ago from Florida

      In our house, we call it the "Drawer of Many Things." We actually have 2.5 of them in the kitchen.

    • Lady_E profile image


      6 years ago from London, UK

      You are so right. How could someone live without a junk drawer? I enjoyed reading this. I use those plastic drawers. (4 drawer plastic organisers).

    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Hey, Tina, I know what you mean. I think if a marriage or partnership can survive the different styles of spending/saving money, morning/evening preferences, and junk drawer orientation...there's a chance for the relationship to work out! Just kidding, but it's true that junk drawers eventually figure into every house and every relationship. Thanks so much for your comment and your votes!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      I have several junk drawers and I love them! I think I will follow your great advices here and organize the drawers because my husband don't like them at all. Somehow he can´t see the need for all those little "valuable" things I put in them. In fact, it is the opposite really, and I think he find them quite disturbing, so a little more organization will do wonders! Thanks for a wonderful hub! Voted up, funny and interesting!


    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Simone - Exactly! Just think what the archaeologists will have to deal with 6,000 years from now!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Hehee- I love how all junk drawers have their own "mysterious 6" equivalent!

    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Danette, thanks for voting it funny! It certainly helps to have a little (or a lot) of humor when approaching such a mundane task. There's something comforting in the fact that most humans share the behaviors associated with a junk drawer, such as "not now, I'll deal with this later!"

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      Enjoyed your hub and voted it up and funny. I can certainly appreciate the mysterious items that end up getting tossed back into the drawer.

    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      You've got me to thinking, Peggy, about just what constitutes a junk drawer. OK, the one in the kitchen is the only one I CALL a junk drawer. It's the "official" junk drawer. But, wow, some of the drawers in our chest of drawers have all kinds of stuff in them and in quite a swirl. It's a matter of semantics and habit, I suspect. I must admit there are more important things in life than having the junk drawer(s) organized. Thanks for reading!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I voted 3 and then thought of the one in the garage and dare I say that some of my dresser drawers could also be considered as such. So I should have voted more than 3 junk drawers. Organizing them will be another project for another day. Am certain that I will find some mystery items as you did. Ha!

    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      savoirfaire - I'm glad you liked it. Viva la junk drawer!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I liked your hub. It was enjoyable to read and motivating.

    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Geoff - I agree! Having a junk drawer is having a home!

      lindamuses - What a thoughtful comment. I appreciate that you picked up on the human foibles. I think that's an aspect I always want to have in my writing. And I, too, was surprised that people have more than one junk drawer. I thought you could only have one! HaHa!

      Eiddwen - Thanks so much for reading and for you comment. Best wishes.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      A great hub which I am sure many of us will benefit from.

      Thank you for sharing and here's to many more to share on here.

      Take care


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Huh! I was surprised to see that there are lots more people than I'd have guessed with three or more junk drawers. I have only one in the house (but you should SEE it!), but several in the garage because I'm a projects person, and you never know when you might need that.....

      I loved this post; it's got some good ideas, but mostly I like the pokes at human foibles.

    • Geoff Morova profile image

      Geoff Morova 

      7 years ago from South Dakota

      I used to be the type to hold onto it forever. But when my junk drawer suddenly took up 2 of my larger drawers, I decided I needed a change. We always had a junk drawer growing up - I think you aren't really settled into a house until you have one.

    • JSParker profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Hi Geoff - I so appreciate your comment and wish I were more like you as far as getting rid of things. I guess there's really no right or wrong about this, except that both extremes are probably not healthy. My partner is much more of a "hold onto it forever" kind of guy, so I compromise a little to make him happy.

    • Geoff Morova profile image

      Geoff Morova 

      7 years ago from South Dakota

      I agree that everyone needs a junk drawer but when it gets out of hand I start throwing away. If I haven't used it in 9 months and have no idea which lock it goes to, I'm throwing it away. May come back to bite me eventually but so far, so good.


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