What’s in Your Junk Drawer?

What's in Your Junk Drawer?

My husband is a regular contributor to a radio talk show.  Each week, he’s given a topic to discuss. It’s a fun exercise in creativity for him.

A few weeks ago, the topic was junk drawers.  I wondered what he would say.  Lately it feels like every drawer in our house is a junk drawer.  They are all in a serious state of disarray and in need of decluttering.

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He wisely chose not to mention the status of our drawers. Instead, he decided to record our three boys, ages 7, 5, and 5, as they went through several of their toy drawers.

This unique look at junk drawers left me thinking about our relationship with stuff and how so many of our own habits are passed down to our children.

Listen to the full essay on “Junk Drawers” which originally aired on the Northern Community Radio show Between You and Me and see if you can’t relate.

What struck me is that my three young boys said some of the same things I say when going through my own junk drawers.

They said things like, “Hey, I remember this thing,”  and “Oh, that’s broken.” There was a joy in rediscovering things in their toy drawer that I experience whenever I go through a junk drawer or clean a closet.

And their solution for dealing with the clutter.  Get more drawers!

Oh, dear.  Have I really created packrats?

When I look in my cluttered drawers, I see so many things.  I see broken knickknacks that need some glue. I see parts to things I need to save.  I see old things I’d like to repurpose into new things.  I see storage containers and old keys and so much more.

I see my reluctance to part with things. It is the cheapskate way to look at things and believe that they will have a purpose someday.

And now I realize that my children look upon their things with the same philosophy.  They might play with those toys again one day.  Or not.  But it brings them peace knowing they are there.

So how do we reconcile our cheapskate ways with the need to declutter?  How can we justify keeping things “just in case” without becoming hoarders?

Moderation is the answer.

You can have a junk drawer (or even two or three).  You can hang onto things to use for projects or because you have a sentimental attachment or even just because you want to figure out  what that thingamajig is.  Sometimes the contents of your junk drawer can help you solve a problem that saves you money.  Just limit the space you allow for such things and it won’t take over your home.  Designate a space for those odds and ends and do a purge when the stuff outgrows the space.  Buying more stuff to organize your junk or paying for storage is not a good use of resources.

Schedule a regular purging of junk.  You don’t have to tackle the entire house at once.  I’m talking about tackling that one drawer a few times a year.  Toss things that you can’t identify.  Recycle what you can, and keep just a few items just in case.

Have someone else help with decluttering.  It is far easier for me to go through the kids’ stuff than it is for them because I don’t have the emotional attachment.  My husband hoards paper and books, but I don’t care as much about keeping everything like that, so it’s easier for me to clean out the desk.  He sees the kitchen drawers with a need for simplicity, so he is good at suggesting what things can go.  We’ll sort through each other’s stuff and put it in a holding bin of sorts for a week or two.  If no one misses it, and the owner of the item agrees, those items leave the house.

It’s important to keep those junk drawers from getting out of hand so that you can find what you need when you need it.

Your turn: Do You have a junk drawer?  How do you keep it under control?

About Christina Brown

Christina is a wife and mother dedicated to figuring out how to live a simpler, happier life on a budget.


  1. Michaela says

    I’ve become more hesitant to toss or giveaway stuff. Every time I do I almost always find a use for it a few weeks after I’ve gotten rid of it, even if I’ve held on to it for years! Fortunately, I don’t buy a lot of stuff either so keeping items on hand isn’t a huge problem for me.

    I have ONE junk draw. It’s pretty much the only area that isn’t organized, and it drives me nuts! It’s mostly matches, dry erase markers, and some scrap paper. But boy do items shift and cause a mess!

    Something I find helpful is to keep a running list of areas that need organization, like spice cabinets or bathroom cabinets. When I have some spare time I select something off the list. If I’m busy it’s a small project, if I have time and feel like cleaning it’s a larger project.

  2. Amy says

    No junk drawers here, but there are pockets of stuff everywhere that need to be cleaned and purged. Part of the problem is finding a home for everything. It seems like when I clean something out, I end up with stuff that I want to put somewhere else, but that somewhere else needs to be cleaned and organized too. Ugh.

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