I’m pretty sure that everyone, has a junk drawer (well maybe not Marie Kondo!) but all non-cleaning obsessed people!

And I am going to go against the grain of the usual organizing gurus out there and suggest, nay, I insist that you have one too.

Now even though I help people get their life organized and that included the home, I’m also fully aware that everybody has busy lives and matching and rolling socks may not be at the top of the to-do list!

And so when it comes to doing a quick tidy up when an unsolicited visitor is ringing your doorbell, it helps to have somewhere to just shove stuff right?

But there is one caveat that I also insist you follow when you have a junk drawer… that twice a year you clean it out.

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Why do you need to clean out the junk drawer?

The main reason for cleaning out the junk drawer is because over time more and more stuff gets chucked in and rarely does anything escape. Eventually, you run out of room and so the next logical thing to do is start Junk Drawer The 2nd. And then in the not so distant future, Junk Drawer The Third enters your life and before you know it you are on the next series of Hoarders!

So cleaning it out twice a year keeps your home off TV for the wrong reasons and keeps the junk drawer under control.

What you can learn from cleaning out the junk drawer

Each time I clean out our junk drawer I learn something new. The chaos is real, look at what might be lurking in your drawer…

Drawer full of junk, of various household items.

When you do a cleanout follow these steps and this will help with not just the junk drawer but organizing the rest of your home too.

1. Take everything out of the drawer

As tempting as it is to just chuck things, don’t. Instead, make piles.

  • Things to put away in the correct place
  • Things that don’t have a home
  • Things to go in the bin/trash

Don’t overthink it, as you take each item out of the drawer, put it in one of the three piles. You might end up with a fourth pile, the “What the heck is this” pile and that is ok. There are often random items in there too.

2. A home for everything and everything in its home

I bang on about this in Wonder Mom Success Club all the time, why? Because it’s super important. If every item in your home has its own home…

  • It is easy to find what you need when you need it (and that goes for the kids too).
  • It’s easy to put stuff away, you know, and so does everyone else, where the item lives, there are no excuses to be had.
  • This leads to the house being tidier because there are no stray items lying around, which has the knock-on effect of it being easier to clean!
  • And because it’s easier to clean and keep clean that reduced a shed-load of stress and time-wasting for mom, hurrah to that!
  • And finally, it saves money because if you know where everything is, you know when you have run out of something and your default of buying more because you can’t find the said item is no longer default.

Stage One

Start by putting away anything that has a home but has ended up in the junk drawer. The thing to think about here is WHY did it end up in the junk drawer. There are many reasons, the most common is laziness, it got shoved in there to “put away properly later” I suppose now is later!

But let’s look at that a bit more closely, WHY was it easier to shove it in the junk drawer rather than put it where it belongs?

Looking at my junk drawer belongings I could see a pattern…

Cables – these didn’t get put away in the cable box because it was a bit of a pain to get at the cable box. Moved the cable box home and the problem was sorted!

Masking Tape – I’m a bit of a stationery junkie and so my usual masking tape home was full and so the extras ended up in the junk drawer. This was a bit of a wake-up call, and a reminder for me to actually use the tape I have before buying any more!

Random tools, screws and other DIY related bits and bobs. – These are totally here because we are too lazy to walk the 3m to the shed and put them away properly!


Use separators, baskets or boxes to keep everything better organized in the drawer. It might feel a bit OTT but once you start doing it, you will love it! There is no end of types of organisers available or you can recycle something you already have, milk cartons and cereal boxes do the job!

Flat lay of Marie Kondo's storage boxes, containers and baskets with different sizes and shapes

Stage Two

Create a home for everything. So the things you have left are either rubbish to be thrown away or your hobo items that don’t have a home.

You might find you have numerous similar items, if that is the case, where is the most logical place to keep them and make them their own home?

In my case, I had a pile of lightbulbs and a pile of batteries both new and old for both batteries and bulbs, so we clearly need a home and some sort of system set up to dispose of the old ones (we can’t just chuck them out here, we have strict recycling rules)

The answer to your homeless items is either making them a new home or creating a system to deal with things that are in limbo.

3. Analyzing what ends up in the junk drawer

Some of the items that are rubbish will be old, past their best or broken. If that is the case, why are they in the drawer? Is it something you purchased for a one-off project or is it something that doesn’t get used very often? Do you have several of the same things? Ours was paper glue, several partly used bottles. If it’s broken, why didn’t it get thrown out straight away?

Sometimes it is sentimental stuff that you can’t decide what to do with, if you need help to declutter sentimental items check out this post.

Again look for patterns. This will help you work out what ends up in the junk drawer and why.

Once everything has been reassigned, clean out the drawer and shut it.

organized kitchen drawer with different section

The magical empty junk drawer

Give it a few days and someone will, without a doubt go to rummage through the junk drawer for that random thing they need. When they open an empty drawer they will be confused!

This is a brilliant moment!

Just ask what they are looking for and direct them to the right place, remind them to put it back where they go it from.

If you have the house set up with everything in its own home you can then challenge the family to keep the junk drawer empty. It won’t be easy but it’s a good learning technique. Do let me know if you try it!

You can leave a sign in the drawer reminding people to put things away properly.

Small empty dark wood drawer with white knob

What if my house has too much clutter?

I hear you! sometimes it feels like every drawer is a junk drawer. I used to feel like that about my home, then about 12 years ago I decided to do something about it, one baby step at a time. It didn’t take long for me to see that my efforts were worthwhile. So I shared what I was doing with my Facebook group and ended up running a kitchen decluttering challenge.

Then the most surprising thing happened, people were asking me to do the same for the whole house! And that is how Clear The Clutter was born.

Challenges like filling 40 bags with clutter are great for the first boost to get the ball rolling but what I discovered was that it’s a mindset thing that really makes the difference. So when I set up Clear The Clutter, I include mindset lessons for you and the family. And I know it’s important to get the kids on board too, so they have their very own Secret Agent 008 training!

You can find out more about Clear The Clutter here. Most people do two rounds but I have people who still stick with it because they like having the reminders, they might not need to do everything these days but it helps them to keep on top of it all.

And as a bonus, many people make money out of what they declutter, Susan made $1234 using the Clear The Clutter method to decluttering her home. She used that money to go on a lifelong dream trip to Scotland.

To Wrap Up:

Do keep a junk drawer as it’s a great way to analyse what isn’t working in your home and what needs a home.

If you have a home for things but they end up in the junk drawer, figure out why. The default, easy way to dump something should be in its actual home, not the junk drawer.

Only have one junk drawer because it is way too easy for everything to get out of control if you end up with more!!