Ask a Professional Organizer – How many junk drawers may I have?

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A drawer with messy junk in it.

When I am working with clients one of the first things they tell me is how many junk drawers they have.  I can tell they usually think they should have none.    Depending on how you define junk drawers they may be right.  Why are they keeping junk?  Most likely they are referring to the drawers that contain many items, from a number of categories, that they don’t know where to store so they put them all in one drawer.  Does that sound familiar?   Let me relieve your discomfort and say a junk drawer is ok.

What is a junk drawer? 

When I am working with clients I know that they need a drawer to place things that they need to access quickly.  It may be a screwdriver, takeout menus, a lighter for candles, string, tape for labelling leftovers or light timers etc.  What is in your junk drawer?  The problems arise when the junk drawer has junk in it.  Spilled expired pills, pieces of ribbon, miscellaneous hardware, unwrapped candy, unneeded receipts etc. These items need to go to the garbage or appropriate recycling.  Clean out your junk drawer and make it a quick access drawer. Rename your junk drawer so it is easier to determine what should be stored in it to make your life easier. What is the new name for your junk drawer? 

How many junk drawers may I have?

Now that we have established you don’t keep junk.  You want things accessible. With my clients, I think that junk drawers in the kitchen and home office are common. It is easy to have a drawer on the main floor, usually the kitchen, for items that you commonly use and don’t want to go to other areas of the house to get.  In the office, there is a drawer that holds things that are used frequently and you don’t want to go searching for them, tape, glue, paper, envelopes, and electronics.  Make sure that your office doesn’t become a junk room,  storing everything that has not been assigned a storage space somewhere else in the home.  I would suggest one junk drawer per floor in your home.   How many junk drawers do you have?

Are junk drawers a bad thing? Only if they contain junk. Share on X

How to organize a junk drawer

A junk drawer should not be disorganized.  You won’t be able to find what you need in the drawer.  I have seen junk drawers so stuffed full that they can’t be opened.  Use containers to organize items so that when you open the drawer you can access what you are looking for.  There are lots of products available to keep the drawer organized:

  • containers
  • expansion drawer dividers
  • expandable trays
  • jars
  • ziplock bags

Whatever your preference is, sort, remove unneeded items and then purchase your organizing product or repurpose items you already own.

I have containers for:

  • pens, paper, pencils  and makers,
  • twist ties, elastics and bread tags,
  • light timer and electrical outlet power bar
  • string and tape
  • first aid items.

That is what I need in my junk drawer.  What do you need in your easy access drawer?

A well organized office drawer with markers, tape elastics, stamps

Why are junk drawers bad?

Junk drawers are not bad.  Everyone needs a place to put items they don’t know where to store.  Junk drawers are only bad when they store items you don’t need and are afraid to let go of.  Look through your junk drawer on a regular schedule and clean it out.  Remove items you don’t need, take items to their proper storage place and put the real junk in the garbage. Junk drawers are bad when they give you an excuse to procrastinate and not take the time to put things away properly or make decisions about what to keep and what to let go.   Does your junk drawer let you procrastinate?

Let me help you with your junk drawers. Book a complimentary virtual organizing chat with me. 


A blue and white striped tunnel in the background with Julie Stobbe in the foreground wearing a white blouse.Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home and office. She guides and supports you to manage your time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Online courses are available to help instruct, coach and support your organizing projects. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

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  1. Janet Barclay on June 22, 2022 at 4:54 am

    You make some great points! I especially love this: “The problems arise when the junk drawer has junk in it.”

    • Julie Stobbe on June 22, 2022 at 3:11 pm

      The overstuffed junk drawer usually contains junk. The organized junk drawer is different. It is an area to place a variety of items for quick access for easy repairs

  2. Linda Samuels on June 27, 2022 at 9:12 am

    I don’t get why people feel so guilty about having junk drawers, but I know they do. You make excellent points about the editing piece. In essence, these drawers provide a place for easy access of things you use frequently, and need a co-mingled space to go.

    • Julie Stobbe on June 28, 2022 at 12:43 pm

      I like the term co-mingled space. It sounds much more classy than a junk drawer. Thanks for offering another name for this space.

  3. Sabrina Quairoli on June 27, 2022 at 11:01 am

    I agree! Junk drawers are OK to have in a home. I have a small 12-inch wide drawer in my kitchen’s command area. It is a perfect size for us. When it fills up, I go in and declutter it. This usually happens a few times a year.

    • Julie Stobbe on June 28, 2022 at 12:44 pm

      I like the idea of calling it a command center drawer. It implies the location of the drawer as well as the function. These drawers do fill up quickly and need to be decluttered often.

  4. Seana Turner on June 27, 2022 at 1:30 pm

    I tend to suggest we recast it as a “supplies drawer.” We don’t really intentionally keep junk. In most cases, it is just “miscellaneous.”

    I agree about how important it is to have structure in these drawers to keep like items together. It’s pretty much impossible to keep a drawer like this organized within some form of structure, right? The good news is that you can often find small containers & boxes around the house that work just great.

    • Julie Stobbe on June 28, 2022 at 12:47 pm

      A supplies drawer helps to explain what should go in it. They are hard to keep organized. I think it is because they need to be categorized differently. Perhaps categories should be by size, small, medium or bigger items instead of by function.

  5. Julie Bestry on June 29, 2022 at 2:22 am

    Solid tips!

    I’m with you; the problem isn’t the drawer, but the junk. I have one deep drawer that I call my junk drawer, and it’s all functional items (screwdrivers, a hammer, and other small but similar tool-like items). Another shallow drawer across the kitchen, with dividers, that I’d never think to call a junk drawer is more miscellaneous: one section for all the stuff that “sticks” (Scotch tape, packing tape, glue), one for writing supplies, one for true miscellaneous (a combination lock, travel sewing kit, etc.).

    I’d help my clients rename their drawers to be more apt; thanks for encouraging me to do it with my own!

    • Julie Stobbe on June 30, 2022 at 4:06 am

      I like keeping similar stuff in a drawer in my kitchen. I want to grab them fix the problem and have the job done quickly. So far I have had command center, supplies, quick access, drawers and co-mingle space as alternative names to junk drawer.

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