How To: Clean Up My Junk Drawer (or yours)

As I mentioned last week, we're scouring the internets for junk drawers (why? I don't really know, but it's kind of fun). If you've got one (come on, everyone has one), send us a pic at tips@curbly.com. Here's mine, and the story of how I cleaned it up (with some great tips):

How To: Clean Up My Junk Drawer (or yours)

(Oops. I guess I have two junk drawers)

Start by taking everything out
Yes, this step is mandatory. Sorry.

All that junk!

More junk! Crap! Shinola!


Come on! Now's your chance! You may not get another.

Clean out those drawers before you junk them up again.


Don't throw too much away, especially papers.
To avoid throwing away your wife's paycheck, make a stack of papers to go through and wait to throw them out until everyone's gone through it.

Yes, an organized junk drawer is an oxymoron, but breaking up the spaces into sections will help keep it neater. Be creative; I used some office supply organizers, an empty iPhone case and an envelope box. You could cover these with some nice paper, but ... it's a junk drawer.

Use little boxes to compartmentalize the drawer.

Some papers belong in the junk drawer (believe it or not)
Put loose papers in a manilla folder to keep them together.

Put loose change in a ziplock bag. 
Or, better yet, spend it! The interest rates on junk drawers are pretty low these days.

How to sort things out
Chances are, any sorting you implement won't last long, but as human beings, we're instinctively driven to fight entropy, so have at it: 

  • Sort out trash, things that should be put away somewhere else (i.e. not in the junk drawer), and things that belong there (as much as they belong anywhere). 
  • Then sort by purpose (scissors, glue, etc. in one group, hair clips and chapstick in another). 
  • When all else fails, sort things by size and shape.

Don't over organize
It's a junk drawer, it'll be messy again in a week. Just get things under control and move on.

Test your pens, markers, etc.
Don't keep the bad ones around! Heck, get rid of some of the good ones too! How many writing implements do you need anyway? I know it kills you to throw away even one functioning writing implement, but it's OK, I give you permission. Or collect the extras and give them to a thrift shop or a local school.

Make a coupon/gift card bag
We use an old toiletry thingy with a zipper on it. It'll keep you from loosing valuable gift cards and wasting coupons (just check the bag for coupons before each week's grocery trip).

Here's the incredible final result (yes, I am as impressed with myself as I sound):

Wow! A neat junk drawer!

Another amazing transformation!

What are you favorite junk-drawer organizing tips? Post 'em in the comments, neatly, if you please.

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elseajane on Mar 07, 2011:

Nice change Bruno and nice Tute. Thanks for sharing. I've been working on doing a whole junk house clean-up so this is helping with everything. EJ

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