Junk in the Trunk (and the Drawers and Bins)

Junk drawers. They’re like Lay’s potato chips – you can’t have just one!

They’re under our beds, in our kitchens, our offices, bathrooms, you name it – there’s probably a junk drawer there.

The number and type of junk drawer that we have says a lot about us – mine make me look like a just-in-case fanatic.

Last year, I counted at least three bins that I considered “junk drawers” in my apartment, mostly filled with half-blank pieces of paper for later use. I’d been carrying all this crap around for years without knowing it.

Drawers and storage solutions are perfect for intentional storage. But they can be dangerous too – we leave things hidden for so long that we start to forget what we own and why we own it.

A peek inside my junk drawers

When we moved seven months ago, I avoided storage specifically because I don’t want to go back to having multiple junk drawers. But junk drawers always find a way, don’t they?

We have a little built-in vanity and dresser area near our bathroom and we quickly made use of two tiny drawers to fill with everything that didn’t have a home.

IKEA happened, and we got more little booklets and pseudo-tools to add in. Soon, I could hardly open the drawers anymore because they were stuffed with God knows what.

Here’s a look at our junk:

Junk Drawers

I separated our drawers into one for my husband and one for me – before it was anyone’s guess as to whether or not there was any kind of organization.

How to tackle junk drawers without going crazy

As you can see, my junk drawers are very small. However, they really were the start of something much bigger and I wanted to bring them back to a manageable size before they got out of hand.

Start by identifying the offending storage pieces around your house. I would define a junk drawer as any drawer that has three or more different types of things – say tools, pens and playing cards or toys, rubber bands and electrical tape.

Before you get started cleaning them out, there are two things you should know:

  1. Know that you can’t get rid of them completely. Honestly, I think having one dedicated drawer to miscellaneous items is useful. Especially when trying to keep surfaces clear of clutter around the house.
  2. Know that all drawers should not be junk drawers. Don’t let this mentality creep beyond one drawer in your household. Be intentional with your junk and give it a nice home.

Once you’ve identified the drawers, take everything out of them and sort them into piles:

  • Trash
  • Not in use (think of The Minimalists 20/20 rule)
  • Like with like (all tape stays together!)
  • Redistribution pile (junk that needs to go to another part of the house)

What’s most important is to keep all like items together. If you have a designated place for paperwork elsewhere, then why is your utility bill in the junk drawer?

Return things to their rightful homes. When you’re done, take a look at what’s left.

Are there duplicates? If you have more pens than you could use in a lifetime, get rid of them. Toss anything that is broken, about to break, or that you just don’t use.

When you go to put everything back in, you should have significantly less. Put things in as orderly as you can so you can see everything easily and the drawer closes without putting up a fight.

Why bother with junk drawers?

First, the obvious – you don’t need to be carrying around literal useless junk whenever you move.

But there’s more to it than that. I’m guessing that you visit your junk drawers just often enough to get frustrated with them. I know when I opened my drawers to find something, it would stress me out. Not a lot, but enough to warrant a good cleaning.

If there’s a drawer that stresses you out even a little bit when you open it, it’s time to rethink it. There’s no reason for these little things to add stress to our lives.

What’s in your junk drawers?

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13 thoughts on “Junk in the Trunk (and the Drawers and Bins)

  1. our drawers are doing pretty well – but the larger areas need help – like our basement! It’s underway though so that’s encouraging. I can’t seem to give up pens and pencils that still work – but we have way too many, even with 3 boys in school!

    • That’s great – it’s the big areas that need attention first and all the little things will fall into place! I know the feeling – I had pens for nearly ten years that still worked. Clearly I didn’t need them because I would have used them if I really did need them. But still, it was strangely difficult to finally part with them. Hope the basement is going well, thanks for commenting!

  2. My problem is getting my husband on board with getting rid of the contents of our junk drawers. The last time I tried, he panicked and made me put everything back….everything!

    • Oh no! Haha that can happen of course. I think the best thing to do would be to talk about it beforehand – I’ve had plenty of talks with my husband about what I want to do and why I want to do it. They go well! And sometimes it’s a matter of compromise. I won’t go through certain things in the house that he wants to keep safe from decluttering. It can be a little tougher with two people (when I lived alone I could get rid of anything I wanted!) Best of luck with the junk drawers & thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. 100% Guilty of this. I kept these weird velcro strips from 5th grade because I knew they would be useful one day when I had a garden (I did finally use them this year..) BUT was it worth moving them oh so many times?! Erm, no. I also have a makeup junk drawer, I call it my graveyard, clearly I should throw it all out.

    • Hah! I am glad to hear you used them though, that’s impressive! It’s absolutely insane the stuff we tote around for “just in case.” I love the name for that drawer, how chilling & appropriate. Again, it’s so crazy what we hold on to – I kept dried out nailpolishes for years because for some reason I thought there might still be a little bit left. I didn’t even like the color.

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