Tiny Spring Cleaning: How to De-Junk Your Junk Drawer

We've all got one. Make yours work for you with a few tips on getting organized and staying that way.

Some people call them catchall drawers, but in my opinion, there’s a big difference between the junk drawer and the catchall drawer. The catchall drawer contains the items that you need and regularly use but that don’t really require their own designated spot. The junk drawer, on the other hand, contains all those little things you said you’d eventually deal with and just never did. We’re talking takeout menus, old ketchup packets, used batteries and the like. So in the name of spring cleaning, let’s turn that junk drawer into a clean, organized and highly efficient catchall drawer.

Remove the Drawer

Original-photog-Jean-Allsopp-kitchen-drawers_s3x4

Original-photog-Jean-Allsopp-kitchen-drawers_s3x4

First thing’s first -- take out the whole drawer and take inventory. Be sure to have a trash can handy, because chances are you’re going to find a lot of expired coupons, worn-out recipes and to-go cutlery…or maybe that’s just me.

Sort Into Piles

Even Junk Drawers Need Cleaning, Decluttering

Even Junk Drawers Need Cleaning, Decluttering

Photo by: DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - House Works , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

For anything you deem worthy of sticking around, create piles with like items. Do you have duplicates? Get rid of one. Are your safety pins and paper clips taking over the entire drawer? Collect them all, so you can see what you’re working with.

Tame the Paper Clutter

Hanging Plastic Folders for Takeout Menus

Hanging Plastic Folders for Takeout Menus

Is your collection of takeout menus out of control? Keep them in one place by placing them in a plastic folder and adhering the folder to the inside of your kitchen cabinet.

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Cristin Bisbee Priest

Photo courtesy of Cristin Bisbee Priest

If you find that you still need some of the paper mess that has accumulated, consider adding plastic paper sleeves to the inside of one of your cabinet doors. It will take up relatively no space and still allow you to hold on to your favorite hand-written recipes and instruction booklets. Of course, keep in mind that most take-out menus and instruction booklets can be found online, which will save even more space!

Make It Pretty

Drawer Liners

Drawer Liners

Even a junk drawer deserves some love. Lining shelves and drawers with bright, cheery paper will inspire you to keep everything organized and in its place.

Photo by: Flynnside Out Productions

Flynnside Out Productions

To make sure your junk drawer is a space you actually want to keep clean, add a pretty liner that will encourage you not to let excessive clutter cover it up. You can buy drawer liners with grip or even use leftover wrapping paper for an instantly bright effect.

Keep It Separate

Muffin Pan Organizer

Muffin Pan Organizer

Whether you've accumulated more muffin pans than you bake with or have found some great antique versions at rummage sales—like this one featured on Vintage Indie—it's time to put them to use. A tray placed in a craft drawer can separate odds and ends in a snap—and keep them in place. It also makes it easy to carry pint-sized supplies from room to room. Photo courtesy of Heather Dutton

Photo by: Heather Dutton

Heather Dutton

Now that you’ve narrowed everything down to what you actually need, find containers around the house that can keep everything divided and easy to find once you put it back in the drawer. If you don’t already have boxes or drawer dividers, you can use ice cube trays or old muffin pans. Or cut out the bottom of old cereal boxes for a cheap solution that can be dressed up with washi tape or wrapping paper.

Keep Up the Good Work

Put Everything in Organized Drawer

Put Everything in Organized Drawer

Photo by: DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - House Works , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Now, all that’s left to do is stay organized. Remember the state your junk drawer was once in and vow to never let it go back. When you make it a habit to keep actual junk out and toss the stuff you don’t really need, you’ll find it’s so much easier to stay organized.

Clever Uses for Everyday Items in the Kitchen

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Magnetic Spices at Hand

From parsley to cinnamon, it's easy for spices to take over your cupboards. To fix this problem, Lauren Davison repurposed baby food jars and turned them into magnetic spice jars that easily attach to the side of the refrigerator. "They're a great way to keep clutter out of your cupboards, save time while cooking and add a touch of personality to the kitchen," she says. "Plus, it's easy to find the spice you need and see when you're getting low." Want to make your own? See Lauren's full tutorial and get step-by-step instructions.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Lauren Davison

A Clearly Neat Menu Organizer

No more stacks of menus stuffed in a junk drawer or hanging on the side of the refrigerator! It's possible to keep these tidy and organized (along with coupons and new recipes to try). Simply adhere any clear folder or plastic sleeve for paper documents to the inside of a cabinet or pantry door. Or, place one on the wall by the phone — the look is clean enough to keep in plain sight. Photo courtesy of Cristin Bisbee Priest

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Cristin Bisbee Priest

Magazine Rack for Pot Lids

Getting all those pot lids in line is a snap with this organization idea from Aimee Wimbush-Bourque. Just screw a metal magazine rack into the back of a cabinet door and arrange lids by size. The sleek design not only makes it easy to find the right lid but also opens up some additional cabinet space, too.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Aimee Wimbush-Bourque

Loaf Pan for Small Cooking Items

No need to shell out for new storage containers when you already have some in your cabinets. Aimee Wimbush-Bourque thought outside the box (literally!) and came up with this simple display for smaller cake-decorating supplies. An old loaf pan is a chic alternative to plastic containers, and it's easier to pull items from — no lid required!

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Aimee Wimbush-Bourque

Soup-er Recycled Storage

Are your canned goods getting lost in the shuffle? If you're tired of toppling towers of cans in the pantry, try this eco-friendly idea from Amy Williams. Take an old cardboard soda box, coat it in Modge Podge, and then cover it with decorative paper. Cut an opening in the back to restock cans so the older ones rotate to the front.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Amy Williams

Hang Your Cups

To encourage her kids to drink more water, Ginny Sheller had her husband craft this space-saving mug rack. To make, turn a coat rack on its side, or screw individual hooks into the wall, and assign each little one their own personal hook based on their height. What's even better: They won't reach for a new cup each time they get a drink.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Ginny Sheller

An Elevated Soap Dish

Take dish and hand soaps to new heights by placing them all on a cake stand next to the sink. If you don't have an old stand you're willing to part from your pastries, try creating one like Natalie Wright did, by gluing a plate atop a wide-based candlestick. It adds an elegant touch to the sink area, while freeing up counter space.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Natalie Wright

Goodbye, Junk Drawer

Whether you've accumulated more muffin pans than you bake with or have found some great antique versions at rummage sales — like this one featured on Vintage Indie — it's time to put them to use. A tray placed in a junk drawer can separate odds and ends in a snap — and keep them in place. Or, slide one onto a cupboard shelf to organize teeny baking supplies, like food coloring, toothpicks and sprinkles. Photo courtesy of Heather Dutton

Photo By: Heather Dutton

Rustic Wine Glass Holder

Juxtapose elegant glassware with this rustic, utilitarian idea from Dana Pugh. Simply remove the handle from any metal rake, and then anchor the head directly to the wall with screws. Flip each glass upside down and slide the stem between two prongs. Or, instead, use the rake to hang spatulas, wooden spoons or other kitchen utensils.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Dana Pugh

A "Grate" Pencil or Utensil Holder

Save precious countertop real estate with this holder for pens and pencils or small kitchen utensils. Take an old box grater (you'll want one with dull enough openings to prevent cuts) and fill the opening at the top with floral foam cut to fit snugly inside. Loop a wire through two holes on one side of the grater to form a hook, then flip it and hang on the wall. Photo courtesy of Alicia McDonald and Jamie Timmer

Photo By: Alicia McDonald and Jamie Ritter

Shoe Organizer for Utensils

Free some space from countertops or cabinets with this sleek idea: Take an over-the-door shoe organizer from any home goods store and hang it on the pantry door or any other door in the kitchen. (The versions with clear plastic pockets are best, so contents are easily visible.) Then slip wooden spoons, spatulas, small appliances or snacks into the slots. Photo courtesy of Laura Witt

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Laura Witt

A Retro Spin on Place Settings

This idea from Green Wedding Shoes will instantly jazz up a birthday party or a fun dinner at home. Just take an assortment of old vinyl records (you can pick up a variety for a dime at a flea market) and set them as place mats or chargers for serving dishes. Or as an alternative, use the album jackets instead. Photo courtesy of Jessica Velarde Photography

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Jessica Velarde Photography

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