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How to Clean Out Drawers

We all have them--those all-inclusive drawers for stuff that doesn’t belong anywhere else. If yours are so packed they can hardly be opened, it’s time to de-junk your junk drawers.


  • Step 1: Dump it out Dump everything out. You heard us—just pull the entire drawer out of the dresser and upend it.
  • Step 2: Toss the junk It’s called a junk drawer for a reason—a lot of it is just plain junk! Throw away anything that’s broken, missing a piece, or a complete mystery to you. Based on the average junk drawer, this should easily pare down your stuff by half.
  • TIP: Check your pens carefully—and toss any that don’t work!
  • Step 3: Split pairs Separate items that are duplicates, like scissors and tape dispensers. Put one in a pile to be put back in the drawer later, and set the other one aside either to be stored somewhere else or thrown out, depending on its value.
  • Step 4: Ask one question Ask yourself one question—have I used or even touched this item within the past year? If the answer is no, research shows you probably won’t use in the future. Throw it out or give it away—unless it has sentimental value.
  • Step 5: Set aside questionable items Take anything you can’t make up your mind about and put it in a shoebox marked with the date. If you still haven’t had a need for it three months later, toss it or donate it.
  • Step 6: Organize Put in some drawer dividers, found at home goods stores, or even some small baskets from a dollar store. Gather any photographs—and put them in a protective sleeve or envelope—and clip together any paperwork.
  • TIP: Before putting anything back into the drawer, take a mini-vacuum or damp cloth and clean the drawer itself.
  • Step 7: Put things back Carefully place back in the drawer the items you’ve decided to keep, using the drawer dividers and/or baskets to group like items together. Now, in the future, try to keep your junk tidy!
  • FACT: The storage and organization business is a $6 billion industry.

You Will Need

  • A garbage can
  • A shoebox
  • A mini-vac or damp cloth
  • Drawer dividers or baskets
  • Protective sleeves or envelopes
  • Some binder clips and paperclips

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