Junk drawers – are they ever ok?

Junk drawers have a bad reputation. Is it deserved?

Comedian Jimeoin has a little song called Third Drawer Down, poking fun at this known phenomenon. The place in your house – usually the kitchen – where miscellany gathers. The junk drawer.

Mine is actually the fourth drawer down, the lowest possible rung on the storage hierarchy. Literally and metaphorically.

First things first – we need to define junk. Like the word clutter, it implies surplus, worthlessness and inherent lack of value. If that is the case then indeed a junk drawer is a bad idea. Why keep unnecessary, unwanted items – especially in the prime real estate that is the kitchen?

The truth is though, our junk drawers often contain more than just junk. They may or may not comprise the following:

  1. Things that are used frequently but aren’t plentiful enough to warrant an entire shelf or drawer. Elastic bands, vouchers, batteries, lip balm, a torch. Sandwich bags, matches, hair ties, a pencil.
  2. Items between states of being. E.g. broken but not fixed yet, paid but not filed yet, found but not identified yet. Busted toys, bills, weird rubber stoppers, puzzle pieces, stray buttons.
  3. Junk. Things you don’t want but don’t have the heart to throw away.
  4. All of the above

Only category number 3 isn’t earning its place in the kitchen drawer. But for now I’ll turn a blind eye and assume its junk status is subjective and yet to be identified.

As for the rest, they are worthy.

Yes you, lone bread tie, single chopstick waiting to be reunited with your soulmate, unassigned postage stamp. You are something.

How do I tame my junk drawer?

The junk drawer need not be a source of shame, but it is not like other storage vessels in the home. Because it is often accessed and added to, the junk drawer is in a constant state of flow. It is the storage workhorse of the house and should have it’s hooves trimmed and mane brushed regularly.

Do monthly maintenance

A neglected junk drawer left to fester and grow will just become a waste of space. Set a reminder if you need to, or clean it out when it becomes too unruly to be useful. In other words when you can’t close it or can’t find things.

Pull everything out and fix your fixables. File your paid bills. Get rid of receipts for items long-ago received.

Throw away unidentified trinkets that have been there for a while. In my experience strange stoppers and screws with no home almost never find one. Like odd socks destined to roam the existential void of uselessness, they should be given a period of grace and then discarded. Assign a ziplock bag, think up an expiry and write it on. After that date, the whole bag goes.

Use drawer dividers

Ideally you don’t want to be rummaging amidst Panadol and lip gloss to find a battery, because chances are the melted lip gloss will have ruined it. A simple cutlery drawer can be a good start, and/or iPhone boxes, small shoeboxes and Tupperware style containers without lids. Divide and conquer. Categorise and put your batteries together, your stationery together, etc.

Assign a small, shallow drawer

More than one layer of contents is a dangerous arrangement, in that the nether regions will be inaccessible and useless. Deep drawers will swallow up your smaller items. You can layer some boxes and trays if you need to, but ensure everything is accessible and visible.

Be kind to it

The more stuff that lands in there, the harder your maintenance appointment will be. Keep it reasonable, and have a finite list of categories that belong there.

Also each category shouldn’t be too large. If you end up with 100 batteries, think about assigning a space elsewhere for them. If you are regularly putting things in there which belong elsewhere, it’s unnecessary double-handling.


In line with my opening statement that nobody should be housing junk, the main thing wrong with junk drawers is their title. Call it a junk drawer and people are more likely to put junk in it.

So what then?

Miscellaneous Drawer?

The Drawer of Everything?

Important Drawer?

Bits and Bobs?

If you need help with your junk drawer or anything else, reach out and get in touch.

How to help a hoarder

How to help a hoarder

Now that I have your attention, ‘someone who hoards’ is a more respectful way to address them. Be mindful of your language AND your actions. Decluttering behind their back can actually make the problem worse. Take baby steps and let them retain control.

Read More »
Has Marie Kondo gone rogue

Has Marie Kondo gone rogue?

Marie Kondo the queen of clean let slip that since the birth of her third child, shit has gotten real at home. She has had to reprioritise her time, which is totes understandable.

Read More »
space invaders season 3 - Cherie, Peter Angie

Space Invaders Season 3

Space Invaders Season 3 features Peter Walsh, Cherie Barber and Angie Kent waving their magic wands on cluttered homes across Sydney, and transforming lives in the process.

Read More »