How to organise a junk drawer - the 5 golden rules professional organisers use

Here's how to organise your most chaotic drawer, according to the experts

Yellow chest of drawers
(Image credit: Future PLC / Dominic Blackmore)

The vast majority of us are guilty of having at least one junk drawer in the house. It's the place where we store anything and everything, the random items that we think we need to keep but don't warrant their own storage solution. If your junk drawer has become an array of disorganised chaos - a state easily achieved - it's time to get things in order and learn how to organise a junk drawer.

'Somewhere in every home there is the bottomless, fascinating and slightly overwhelming drawer where all the random things go; extra pens, batteries, coins and more,' says Vlatka Lake, Marketing Manager, Space Station. 'Over the years, all these small items can add up and eventually take up a lot of valuable space which could be used for other items.'

So that you can keep on top of the clutter in your junk drawer, here are five rules professional organisers swear by to curb the chaos. 

How to organise a junk drawer

Headshot of professional organiser Sian Pelleschi
Siân Pelleschi

Siân's love of organising took her on the path she hadn't anticipated when she set up Sorted! in 2016 after the birth of her first child and came across APDO - the Association of Professional Declutters and Organisers.

Siân’s love of APDO and the organising community saw her step into the President role in September 2022. Her aim is to help APDO continue to grow the PO community, create better connections with International counterparts, allow APDO to be inclusive for all and to create an Association that is seen and heard leading the way when it comes to the Professional Organising industry.

1. Declutter frequently

White drawer open revealing candles and fabric

(Image credit: Nöa & Nani)

The key to learning how to organise a junk drawer is to revisit it regularly and chuck all the stuff you don't need. The more ruthless you can be, the better. 

Our top tip for decluttering is to be realistic about whether or not you're actually going to use something again - if the answer is no, get rid of it now and save the drawer from cascading into chaos. A 'junk' drawer should still only house useful items, not things that simply have no purpose.

'Take away those items that have crept in there, either putting back in their rightful homes, deciding if they need a more permanent home in that specific drawer or getting rid altogether,' advises Siân Pelleschi, President of APDO, and Founder of Sorted!

2. Categorise the contents

A junk drawer can end up housing anything and everything, from blu tac to spare cables, to bits of thread and old receipts. In order to organise it, you need to know what actually lives in there, and the easiest way to do this is to compartmentalise the contents. Categorise similar items together, or items that you reach for more often vs infrequently.

'Drawers get messy when there’s no way to organise internally,' says Siân. 'Once you know what lives there it’s easier to find solutions to storing.'

3. Find a new home for less reached for items

white sideboard with storage baskets underneath and black chalkboard above

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson)

A good long-term solution for how to organise a junk drawer is to remove items that you might need one day but you just don't reach for on a regular basis. Keep the contents of your "junk" drawer streamlined so that it holds useful items in a convenient place, then find a new home for the less reached for items. 

There's probably space in the back of a cupboard somewhere, but if not, use the attic to your advantage if you have one. Remember, these are items that you only need once in a blue moon!

4. Use drawer dividers

Drawer dividers are a junk drawer's best friend, and you can pick them up for around £20 on Amazon. They'll help you maintain the categories you established in step two, and keep you from chucking items into the drawer at random. If you don't want to buy storage compartments, be creative and use things you already have lying around. 

'Create compartments using whatever you already have in the house - cardboard boxes, plastic fruit cartons, anything that will divide the space into smaller more defined areas,' says Siân. 

5. Change your mindset

Grey bedside table with yellow lamp and drawer open

(Image credit: Nöa & Nani)

The above steps will help you organise your junk drawer, but the key going forward is not to slip back into old habits. Stick to the system you've created and don't let everyday life get in the way of keeping on top of it.

'If you think of it as a dumping drawer (or junk drawer), that’s how you’ll use it,' says Siân. 'Instead, think of its purpose and the specific items it’s for only, and you’ll find it easier to keep on top of.' 

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.