Your Ultimate Junk Drawer Organizer

Seven steps to revamping (and reclaiming!) the messiest spot in the house.

Photo by Jonny Valiant

The name says it all. Rest assured, even the spot named for unruliness is not exempt from the wizardry of clutter coach Chip Cordelli

Take Out the Trash
Dump drawer contents into a bin and dispose of any obvious garbage—battered twist ties, rusty key rings, broken pencils, dried-out pens, twine scraps.

Find “To Do” Items
Dig out things that belong together and bundle them for mini decluttering projects: Stack up business cards to enter into contacts, corral tiny superglue repairs, rubber-band unmarked keys for testing, and place all perfectly useful items with an obvious home in aplastic Tupperware container for room-to-room delivery. Tackle the tasks now if you have time, or later while watching TV.

Divide and Conquer
Measure the drawer to outfit it with an insert. The best setup has different-size sections, none big enough to invite bulky invaders. We used the Made Smart Junk Drawer Organizer (shown; $12, For a custom setup, puzzle together solo compartments (Stackable Bamboo Drawer Organizers, $4 to $8,

Make Sense of the Mess
Before you reload, think about usage. What would you like to have handy but hidden? Advil, lip balm, a Post-it with your wireless password? Judicious additions will make the drawer functional—and more than just a landing spot.

Stock Snugly
Pack a compartment with once roaming batteries. Roll earbuds and charging cords to prevent tangling. Keep buttons together. When you’re finished, banish any overflow to a large Ziploc in a high cabinet. Mark the calendar and check the bag in two months. If you haven’t missed the contents by then, toss it.

Hide Your Shame
Randoms will continue to appear, so have a spot in the drawer ready to receive them. Add a small box to the drawer to give tiny mementos, such as ticket stubs, a home.

Purge in Perpetuity
As a practice, when you’re chatting on the phone, open the drawer and toss or relocate an item or two. And pay special attention to the “randoms” section. Says Coach Cordelli, “The ultimate goal is to have your junk drawer become the smallest drawer in the house.”