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Who ya gonna call? Is your address book up-to-date?

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AS YOU might guess, I see plenty of junk drawers. They seem to be a morgue for remnants and rejects from days past. They include, but are not limited to: a lifetime collection of twisty ties, random buttons, safety pins, paper clips, pens that don’t work, remote controls that no longer control anything in the house (old electronic parts are common), coins, old phone books, dried-up glue, tattered school pictures of your now-married niece, freebies that you never found a use for, dead batteries, phone cords, rubber bands, mystery keys – junk.

It’s time to de-junk the junk drawer:
First, the name needs to be changed, along with the mindset that allowed the accumulation. Anything that can be called “junk” does not belong in your home, claiming valuable storage space. For junk, we have the trash, a recycling receptacle, or a donation box. Call it whatever you like, perhaps “utility drawer”; or the “freedom drawer” to signify your successful conquering of at least one clutter-free space in your home.

Dump the drawer contents onto a newspaper on the counter or floor. (Utility drawers can be grimy.) Put only the things you actually use back in the drawer. You will probably find that there is 50 percent less stuff in the drawer.

Tip: In general, I don’t advise unloading a storage space completely, because most will become overwhelmed or disillusioned before the job is done. This drawer though, is doable in one short session. Try not to spend more than an hour on this.

And the answer is …
Use a drawer organizer to divide and conquer. Always sort and purge before buying an organizing tool. As tempting as it may be to shop for snazzy organizing gadgets, sorting first and buying later will encourage appropriate purchases. Style choices are available at the Container Store (

  1. Everything organizer, $6.99. Has two levels with 23 compartments.
  2. Custom drawer organizers, $3.49-18.99. Just measure, score and snap dividers in self adhesive mounts to the desired length.
  3. Drawer doubler, $4.99. To use the space at the top of the drawer; it rests on the top of the drawer frame, is adjustable with 8 compartments, and slides from front to back.
  4. Mesh drawer organizers, $2.49-5.99. Made of steel that defies dust. Customize by combining various sizes to fit your drawer.
  5. Interlocking drawer dividers 99 cents-$2.29. By Rubbermaid, combine various sizes to fit your drawer.

Most drawers contain oodles of unidentified objects, which become even more anonymous with time. The next time you have spare parts, place them in a resealable bag and label, such as “shelf holders – kitchen cabinets.” Establish a hardware/tool drawer for this type of leftover.

A periodic clean-out of your utility drawer will keep the useless items away from the useful items, those used frequently. You may notice that things get shoved in the drawer because there isn’t an obvious place for them. Ask yourself how the item is used, and the answer will guide you. If you can’t identify a specific use, time to recycle, donate, or trash it.