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How to organize your junk drawer, according to a professional

Use these tips from a professional organizer to help you declutter your junk drawer in 2021.
Junk drawers tend to become a dumping ground for clutter without a home.
Junk drawers tend to become a dumping ground for clutter without a home.
/ Source: TODAY

This is my kitchen junk drawer: A constant mess and collection of random items accumulated over weeks — maybe even years.

Look! There's a random diaper (clean, at least), toy screwdriver, a mini school bus, stickers, stamps and a thermometer among lots of other things. Yikes.

In my quest to maintain spotless countertops and the appearance of a "clean" kitchen, this poor drawer has suffered endless abuse. It's become a dumping ground for clutter without a home.

But, what makes me MOST embarrassed is my neglect for the things that mattered the most. I found sonogram pictures and my daughter's classwork among the junk.

After watching a few episodes of Marie Kondo's Netflix reality show "Tidying Up," I realized that my kitchen drawer desperately needed an overhaul. But, before grabbing the garbage bag to de-junk, I turned to my local decluttering consultant Laurie Lindemann from Declutter Pronto for help.

Laurie says junk drawers are often frustrating to deal with. The good news? The space can be easily transformed into something more useful with some junk drawer magic.

What you need to start decluttering

First thing's first: Order a cutlery organizer. Yes, the type of junk drawer organizer most people tend to use in a kitchen drawer.

I re-purposed an old one I had lying around, but Amazon has plenty of options. This one looks just like the one I used:

YBM Home Kitchen Utensil Organizer

If you're looking for a cheaper option for your junk drawer organization, this best-selling utensil tray by Madesmart should also do the trick.

Madesmart Classic Large Silverware Tray

It's also a good idea to get some disinfecting wipes. I'm partial to Clorox, but any brand should do the trick.

Step 1: Clean out your drawer

Now, here's how to get started on decluttering a messy drawer for good:

  1. Empty all contents out (I dumped everything out onto a flat garbage bag).
  2. Find a "theme" for your new "non-junk" drawer. Laurie says all items should match the chosen theme. In my case, I chose a place to keep sticky notes and office supplies.
  3. Next, go through each item one-by-one. Decide what to throw away, what to keep and store in a more appropriate place, and what fits the theme and should be placed back in the drawer where it belongs.
  4. Clean the inside of the empty drawer with disinfecting wipes. After a good wipe down, Clorox cleaning pro Mary Gagliardi recommends letting it air dry completely, before putting things back into the drawer.

Step 2: Organize what's left

With my drawer totally empty and ready to be utilized, I had to figure out how to best organize the leftover stuff. There are so many different organizers on the market from clear plastic stackables to tray organizers with rubber linings. How did I decide?

Laurie recommends the organizer most tend use for kitchen utensils, "use a cutlery organizer to separate the items or small jewelry boxes to create individualized spaces."

I didn't want to use small jewelry boxes, so I repurposed my old cutlery organizer. Bingo! It was ideal for keeping my odds-and-ends better organized.

I separated items based on how they fit best into the organizer. What a difference, huh? Plus, I rediscovered some gift cards to Kohl's and my favorite restaurant!

Organizing is truly rewarding.

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This article was originally published on Feb. 7, 2019.