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  • Writer's pictureVickie Farrell

When does a junk drawer become a really useful drawer?

Junk drawers are usually located in your main living areas such as the lounge, dining room or kitchen (although they could actually reside in any room where a drawer exists). These drawers are full of a mixture of useful and non useful items, that aren't needed on a day to day basis.

These drawers are usually so full you can't see clearly what is in them and it can be hard to close them as they are bursting at the seams. They are only opened when we can't find something or when we need to clear the decks and so we end up shoving more stuff in them that doesn't really belong there, or possibly anywhere.

Repeating these behaviours can even mean multiple junk drawers. What makes it even worse is when we have junk cupboards, and don't get me started on junk rooms.

But what if we could make our junk drawer a really useful drawer? A drawer that homes really useful things, things that we need to put our hands on quickly when we need them.

Read on and discover how to transform your junk drawer into a more pleasant place to visit.

Junk Drawer Bingo

So, what do you have hiding in your junk drawer? No doubt it will include the usual suspects:

Keys, coins, batteries (new and used in no particular order), chargers, wires, rubber bands, tape, buttons, screws, pencils, pens, receipts, paperwork, take-out menus, super glue, badges, sunglasses, torches and lots, lots more.

Some more unusual items I found (and before you ask, yes I do have kids):

Pebbles, Pine Cones, Spinning tops, plastic whistles, mini activity books, UPTs (Unidentified Plastic Things), dinosaur fossils (allegedly), UFOs (Unidentified F******** Objects) and lots, lots more.

So where to start?

Step 1.

You need to prepare for this activity to give yourself the best chance of success. You will need:

  • Time (how much will depend on how big or full your draw is)

  • A Cardboard Box, ideally an apple box (you can get them from some supermarkets)

  • Post It Notes or paper will do

  • Plastic Tubs. These are just for temporarily sorting things into categories so could just be fruit punnets from the supermarket or tupperware tubs.

  • Plastic bags, one each for rubbish, recycling and shredding

  • Dustbuster/Vacuum

Step 2.

So there is no other way to go here other than to empty all of the contents of the junk drawer out into the cardboard box. This is the moment you give hope to your junk drawer, the hope that it has been waiting for since its arrival in your home, the hope that it is going to go on the caterpillar to butterfly journey and metamorphosise into 'a really useful drawer'.

If you do have more than one drawer like this then it might make sense to deal with them at the same time.

Step 3.

Sift through the items and pick out anything that is definitely rubbish, recycling or shredding and put it in the respective plastic bags. Keep them to hand as you may come across more as you go through the rest of the items.

Step 4.

Now start to work through the rest of the items picking out things that you know belong somewhere else. Put these together in a tub, bag or box, so they can be returned to their proper homes when you have finished as you may come across more as you continue with your task.

Step 5.

Now you need to start to group the remaining items, putting similar items together, and pop them into the tubs to contain them until later. So for example any pens, tape, erasers, pencils could go in a tub of stationery. Use a post it note if you need to in order to label the groups.

If you come across any UPTs or UFOs just put them together in a tub for now.

Step 6.

Now move any of those tubs over to the 'Belongs Somewhere Else' box if you have since realised these items do have a home elsewhere.

Step 7.

Now return all of the items in the 'Belongs Somewhere Else' box to their homes.

Step 8.

Get rid of the rubbish and recycling into the relevant bins and if you have a shredder then deal with the items to be shredded too.

Step 9.

Give the drawer a little bit of love with the help of a duster and maybe even the vacuum.

Step 10.

Ask everyone about the UPTs and UFOs to see if they know what they are. Hold onto them for another few weeks and if after that time no-one is any the wiser then let them go. If you are nervous about this then they could go in the shed or attic for a bit longer but ensure you put a time limit on it.

Step 11

You have done the hard part and so next is thinking about what this 'Really Useful Drawer' might contain. This will be different for everyone but some prompts to help get you started include those items that everyone in the house is always looking for, or asking where they are. Items you might need to put your hands on quickly to help with a task. Or things that are often left out on the sideboard when you have finished using them.

Look at what items you have left as this will also help to define what belongs. Do consider whether the location of this particular drawer is the most efficient place for them to live, as it may not be. The key is to think about where you might be in the house when you need to use it.

The Really Useful Drawer in our kitchen/diner includes:

Phone and Device Chargers, Batteries, Radiator Key, Alum Key and Small Screwdriver, iPhone Headphones, Measuring Tape, Remote Controls (not the TV one!!).

Another Really Useful Drawer next door to this one contains torches and Sunglasses (seasonal).


What we found as a family is that once we had created our Really Useful Drawers, they were so useful that we didn't want to put anything in them that didn't belong. We didn't want to go back to a time when it was hard to find things because they were lost within the pile of junk that surrounded them.

So have a go at tackling those drawers and see if it helps make a difference to your day to day life, by saving time and avoiding frustration.

Go on, give that junk drawer a new purpose in life. Maybe even give it a name!!

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