How to Declutter: The Junk Drawer

This is what my junk drawer looks like.


    • Before becoming a minimalist I had two junk drawers that were so full of stuff it was breaking the drawers!


  • I can’t NOT have a junk drawer. (Because it’s way easier to say “Junk drawer” than it is to say “The garage door opener drawer”)

How often do you dig through your junk drawer?

Or do you just go to it to put something in it?

What things are in there? Extra screws? Instructions manuals that you never look at? A broken flashlight? Pencils that are too short? Stamps from 10 years ago?

And why do you keep these things?

After trying many years to sort it and organize it, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to get rid of it, is this: just dump it in the trash.

If you feel that is too radical for you, dump it in a box, tape the box, set it in your storage area for a month. If you haven’t had to dig it out during that time, then toss it in the dumpster- don’t even think about looking in it!

From now on, if you don’t know what to do with something… throw it away. There is no point in keeping 20-30 items that don’t “belong” anywhere. If they don’t “belong” than they don’t belong in your house!

Have you dumped your junk drawer? If not, what’s stopping you?

Leave a comment and let me know if your having trouble getting rid of something, we can talk about it!

For more decluttering inspiration, click here.



About the author, Rachel

Hi there! I’m the Joyful Space Specialist. it’s my desire help others create a joyful space of their own and enjoy their time spent at home.


  1. Danielle Sample on 11/25/2013 at 4:00 PM

    Stuff drawer is a good name.

  2. Anonymous on 11/25/2013 at 6:42 PM

    This article just continues to reinforce the throw away mentality of our society we live in. A landfill is a big junk drawer that just happen to not be in your house so what do we do when that is full where do we throw it then……..

    • Rachel on 11/25/2013 at 8:14 PM

      I completely understand your point of view.

      But often times our items aren’t useable or desired by others. In which case, we need to let them go.

      Of course, I don’t want to contribute to the landfill, but keeping them in our house only makes our home the landfill and that is no way to live.

  3. Jen on 08/05/2014 at 2:20 PM

    We call it the “utility drawer”. Ours is very pared down, too, but it has things like a pen, a Sharpie, a tape measure, my suede cleaning block, etc. Stuff we need quick and handy access to. No actual junk in there, though! We use it all. Hence, “utility”. lol

  4. Mandy on 08/06/2015 at 10:13 AM

    My kids call it “the useful drawer” ha!

  5. Cami on 08/06/2015 at 10:45 AM

    I love your site and all your articles, but just throwing away, without being mindful? Try to reuse or recycle in some way. As for my junk drawer, I go through it regularly and when’s start to get too many pens or pencils, input them in a zip lock and my husband takes them to work… They can always use them there. Same with other office supply type things. Yes, there are some things that are not useful to anyone, but keep those things thrown away to a minimum. The most important way to control your stuff, and the things that go to landfill is to be extra extra mindful about bringing things into the house in the first place.

  6. Laura on 12/31/2015 at 9:42 PM

    The concept of a junk drawer is counterintuitive to minimalism, since it spurs saving, hoarding, and disorganization. Minimalists are constantly talking about a place for everything, and yet some random drawer is designated to hold unrelated items, which doesn’t fit the meme.

    My junk drawer was mostly excessive office supplies: pens, Post-It notes, glue sticks, scratch paper, business cards, postcards from people, paper clips. I gathered everything up with every office product in the house, sorted it into piles, and then KonMari’d it down to the bone. That “junk” drawer in my kitchen now sits empty, since I don’t have enough kitchen stuff to keep anything in there. I kept three pens (home office, kitchen, purse) and donated the remainder (about 45-50–ridiculous!). The kitchen pen is in the same drawer with the scratch paper for grocery lists and my linen produce bags and market tote, all items I need for shopping. The rest of the items I saved are where they belong — in my home office. When my three disposable pens stop working, I’m investing in refillable ballpoints, one by one, but not until they stop working. I kept one pencil (bedroom, where I like to read and mark up journal articles and books). When the pencil gets down to the stub, I’ll either have to bum a pencil off one of the neighbor kids or buy a mechanical pencil since apparently you can no longer buy just one wooden pencil anymore.

    I agree there are not many things that have to be trashed into the landfill. But it means taking responsibility for the item’s disposal. We bring this stuff into our house – it’s up to us to dispose of it properly when it’s time for it to leave. A lot also depends on what recycling and diversion systems are in your community. I live in San Francisco, where 80% of the waste stream is diverted away from the landfill. We have tons of outlets, facilities, and organizations to take pretty much anything. (S.F. is aiming for 100% landfill diversion by 2020.) The main takeaway is we brought it in, we need to be responsible for the way in which it leaves.

    I gave a bunch of Post-It pads and pens to the guy I’m dating. He’s a physician and since there are now laws (at least in CA) that the drug companies can no longer provide products imprinted with their drug names, his office needed to purchase these items again! So he was glad to take the stuff off my hands.

    Great post and comments!

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