Home to all manner of bits and pieces, this go-to drawer can get out of control. Peter’s here to transform it with some tough love.

I’m not a psychic but there are a few things I can tell you about your junk drawer. First, yes, you have one – everyone does. Second, it’s probably in your kitchen, maybe right next to the cutlery drawer. And, third, it’s full-to-bursting. Here’s something else I can tell you – cleaning up and organising a junk drawer takes a relatively short amount of time. Once it’s cleaned up, it will give you a great feeling of accomplishment so let’s do it!

Junk drawers are the physical manifestations of what I call “I-might-need-that-one-day clutter”. They’re filled with extra parts from the project you assembled and the extra 10 batteries you had to buy because the 12-pack was much better value than just buying the
two you actually needed. There’ll be toothpicks, buttons, rubber bands, and something that was definitely going to be used on your daughter’s school art project. And the truth is you actually might need each of these things one day, so there’s nothing wrong with keeping that stuff. But, if something becomes impossible to find, then I’d argue you don’t really own it in the first place. A little organisation will make a big difference – and I’m here to help.

1/ Try a little verbal exercise to tame that drawer. Repeat after me: “I no longer have a junk drawer. I have a utility drawer”. That one change of mindset will really help you understand how best to use that space. The things that will go back into this utility drawer are things that will actually help you. Don’t let your newly organised drawer become the catchall for anything that you want to deal with later.

2/ Clear off the kitchen bench and dump the entire contents of your junk drawer onto it. We’re really getting into it now!

3/ Rummage through that mountain of stuff and throw away anything that’s clearly rubbish. Rubbish is the obvious stuff like anything that’s broken, or a part to something you no longer own. But rubbish is also lots of other things such as instruction manuals from appliances (you’ll never use them and if you do, they’re almost always online these days), batteries past their expiration dates, bits of paper, old elastic bands, and the dried-up tube of super glue.

4/ Once the rubbish is gone, start sorting out what’s left into like categories – office materials, small tools, screws, batteries for example. You’ll quickly realise that your junk drawer has been holding bits and pieces to things that actually belong somewhere else in your home. Now’s the time to pack them up and reunite them with their long-lost friends.

5/ Find old pasta boxes, egg cartons or cereal containers. Using a little ingenuity, we’re going to cut these up to create some clever organising trays that will fit nicely into that soon-to-be utility drawer; or, if you’re feeling fancy, grab a couple of old cutlery dividers or proper organising trays from the shops. Whichever way you choose to do it, you want to start keeping like items together and separating them from others to create easy-to-access points. If you know that batteries are always on the left side and locks and keys are always on the right, you’ll easily be able to put your hands on exactly what it is you need at the moment you need it.

6/ Admire your handiwork! Just look at all those separate compartments with everything in its rightful place. Take joy in the fact that you have transformed your chaotic junk drawer into a really workable utility drawer, arming you for any unforeseen situation!

If you only have 10 minutes:

Grab a garbage bag, go through your junk drawer and discard any rubbish you know you no longer need, use or want. Anything broken has to go – be ruthless! You can probably reduce the amount of stuff by 40 per cent in just 10 minutes – and I’m guessing that’s all the motivation you’ll need to finish the job!