If the lingering question of how to keep your junk drawer clean has kept you up at night, this post is for you. Junk drawers are a strange phenomenon—pretty much everyone has one, but no one really likes them. Why? Because only the most organized among us succeed at keeping this storage space tidy. Instead, most people’s junk drawers look like an office supply store exploded inside.

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If you’re sick of looking at that cluttered drawer in your kitchen, the good news is that it’s easier than you’d think to keep your junk drawer clean. All you have to do is follow these five important rules, and you’ll be able to keep the clutter under control. Do this, and your junk drawer will become a functional storage area, instead of a disaster zone, once more.

1. Start with an Overhaul

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The first step toward an organized junk drawer is a complete and total clean-out. This means emptying everything out of the drawer—yes, we mean everything—and spreading it out nearby.

From here, you’ll want to start sorting things: Put all the paper clips together, the scissors together, the chargers together, and so on. Pull out all the writing implements, sort them, and test each one to see if it works. Throw away dead pens, as well as any other genuine junk that you don’t want or need.

2. Dividers Are a Must-Have

Before you start putting items back into your junk drawer, it’s essential that you have a way to organize them. This can be as simple as using a drawer organizer, but that’s far from the only way to divide up the space.

Other options for segmenting your junk drawer include drawer dividers or small modular containers. You can even collect small boxes, bowls, and dishes from around your house to divvy up space if you don’t want to spend any money.

Some other creative options including using muffin pans or ice cube trays as makeshift organizers. These products work well if you have a lot of small items, such as paper clips, push pins, and binder clips, that need to be sorted.

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3. Decide What Belongs

One of the reasons junk drawers tend to get out of control is because we throw anything and everything into them. However, if you want to keep the space tidy, it’s important to make a list of things you want to store in there—and keep everything else out.

For instance, you might want to use your junk drawer as a space for office supplies like pens, pencils, erasers, paper clips, rulers, and the like. If these are the items you decide belong in the junk drawer, commit to it—don’t throw a bottle of painkillers or crafting supplies in there just because you don’t know where else to put them. Instead, take the time to find another space for unapproved items.

If you follow your own guidelines on what belongs and what doesn’t, your junk drawer will become much more manageable.

4. Say No to Overflow

Do you really need 23 pencils and 6 different rulers? Probably not.

Acknowledging and removing excess items is another effective way to keep this area organized. For example, if you notice your collection of rubber bands is getting out of control, take half of them out and stash them in a supply closet—or, if they’re really unnecessary, donate them or throw them away.

5. Schedule Monthly Purges

Just like the rest of your house, your junk drawer won’t keep itself clean (unfortunately). If you’re serious about keeping it organized, schedule a small chunk of time each month when you go through its contents, sorting and purging as necessary.

If you stay on top of it, this task shouldn’t take you more than five minutes—a low price to pay for a neat and clean home!

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