Organizing Drawers: 10 Ways to Tidy Your Home

Organizing drawers well is an art. A well-organized drawer ensures that locating items is a quick process and means the contents also stay in good condition, making home life smoother for every member of the family.

But while they provide the perfect storage space when you’re organizing a living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and more, drawers can get messy and cluttered without the right systems in place. Decluttering, sorting out what goes where, grouping items, and dividing up space are all crucial tactics.

To make the most of the valuable space provided by drawers, get inspired by the techniques and storage ideas experts use to organize your whole home.

Organization of drawers

For a clean and tidy home, it is essential to organize the drawers efficiently. It involves giving everyone a purpose, says Barbara Brock, founder and CEO of Beauty & The Box and former president of the New York chapter of the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals.

“Too often, drawers get cluttered for two reasons: they don’t have a purpose, and not everyone in the house knows exactly what’s wrong or even what goes in that drawer,” she says. Here’s the lowdown on the best way to organize drawers.

1. Decide where to start organizing drawers

Under bed storage ideas with trundle bed

(Image credit: Little Folks Furniture)

Since they are located all around a house, the task of organizing drawers can seem a bit overwhelming and it can be difficult to know where to start. Professional organizer Brenda Scott of Tidy My Space recommends starting with the drawer that bothers you the most.

“It could be the junk drawer or maybe you organize kitchen drawers, like the utensil drawer,” she says. “Start with this one because you’ll get the greatest emotional reward from having this tidy and organized.”

As for the procedure, “Take everything out of the drawer, wipe down the inside, replace the drawer liner (if it had one) and look at everything.” Is it in good condition? Do you use it? Do you like to? Does he need to be here? Brenda asks.

“Some drawers are disorganized because things get thrown out that really belong in another drawer or even another room but never got there. Group similar items together and separate items that belong to another place. For those that belong somewhere else, use a box labeled as such, so you know they need to be taken somewhere else.

2. Divide and contain

Preventing different items from getting mixed up is essential when organizing drawers.

“Use full-length drawer dividers for long items and smaller open-top containers for smaller items,” says Brenda Scott. ‘For example, long dividers for a drawer with kitchen utensils, rolling pin, tongs, spatulas, pizza cutters, salad forks, scissors, pens, etc. and moved around in the drawer.

‘The utensil trays are great for keeping your cutlery and anything within this size contained and organised. These can include cooking utensils, knives, chopsticks, reusable straws, measuring spoons, bottle openers and corkscrews.

3. Plan to avoid slippages

Metal pot rack and pots in a drawer

(Image credit: Neptune)

One of the reasons drawers get disorganized is because the contents slide out when the drawers are opened and closed. “Keep items in place by using dividers, containers, or grippy liners,” says Sonja Meehan, professional organizer and owner of Simply Thriving Organization.

Liners like this metal rack are great for drawers meant for larger kitchen items like pots and pans. They can be part of custom cabinetry, but it’s easy to add liners if you’re not remodeling the kitchen.

4. Find A Home For Scattered Items

Deciding what needs to be stored in the drawers of a particular room can often be an easy choice, but some items don’t necessarily have a “natural” home and can end up split between different drawers. According to Barbara Brock, these categories may include: tools, crafts, headphones/cords, light bulbs, batteries, desk accessories, glue/tapes, and travel items.

Decide which drawers should contain each of your forgotten categories and let everyone know. “Let everyone in the household know what’s in that drawer if it’s a common drawer,” says Barbara. “Tagging a (short-term) drawer helps.”

5. Organize the drawers in the bathroom

Open drawer bathroom vanity with tub in bedroom with neutral tile

(Image credit: Utopia)

When organizing a bathroom vanity, built-in dividers — or vanity organizers — can help bring order. If his or her drawers don’t have one? “Use containers that maximize drawer width and length,” says Brenda Scott. “Measure the drawer and decide which item goes where before you buy organization solutions.”

Since what fits in bathroom drawers is often small, you may need additional ways to store items. “I like to use clear, open-top acrylic containers—they look clean and you can wash them easily,” says Brenda.

6. Think day and night when organizing drawers

Whether you keep cosmetics, beauty and hair products in the bathroom or in a bedroom vanity, if you have more than one drawer, consider separating items used at different times of the day. This will make your preparations more effective.

“I like to have my morning routine items in the top drawer of my dressing table and nighttime items in another,” says Brenda. “It saves me time searching through many drawers to find my skincare, then makeup, then hair items.”

7. Make it easier to locate clothes in drawers

Folded clothes stored vertically in drawers

(Image credit: Getty Images/Rike_)

When organizing clothes or drawers in bedrooms and walk-in closets, make sure the right garment is easy to find. “Use file folding to keep everything visible,” says professional organizer Sonja Meehan, owner of Simply Thriving Organization.

“Folding the folder has several advantages: it makes finding the item you want a snap, it lets you see everything you have at a glance, and it’s so much easier to maintain only piles of clothes.” Again, dividers can help keep drawers clean, while color grouping speeds up dressing.

8. Keep your underwear clean

organization drawer organizer

(Image credit: The Container Store)

Drawers containing underwear can get messy without the right systems in place. “I like to use full-length fabric containers for underwear, one for socks, and another for bras,” says Brenda Scott.

“Roll up the underwear a la Marie Kondo,” she says. ‘For bras, if you have space, you can open them up and stack them horizontally, back to front. If you don’t have a lot of space, fold the bras in half and stack them horizontally back and forth. The bra cups fit inside the front bra; you can organize a lot in a small space; they retain their shape; and you can see them easily.

‘For the socks, roll them like tight cinnamon rolls on a baking sheet. This method allows the socks to hold their shape without stretching the bands as you fold over the top band to hold the pair together.

9. Follow the like rule

Open drawer with white front with DVD inside

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd Photography: Sarah Hogan)

Just like when organizing a home office, putting what is the same is an invaluable rule of organization and should always be part of the process when it comes to drawers. But remember that you may need to dig deeper to make locating exactly what you need a breeze.

“Small groups of similar items should be grouped together in a drawer,” says Sonja Meehan. Keep in mind that you may also need to label these sections for quick location.

10. Use Utility Closet Drawers

If you’re the proud owner of a utility closet, its drawers are the perfect place to store some of the items for which it can be difficult to find the perfect place. Barbara Brock suggests tools, light bulbs, batteries, glues, string and ribbons, crafts and extension cords.

How do you organize a messy drawer?

To organize a messy drawer, it’s always best to declutter first. “The less you keep in the drawer, the easier it will be to organize it,” says Sonja Meehan.

‘So purge before you start organizing. If you don’t need/want/love it, you should be fine. If it has no logical connection to the other items in the drawer, it belongs somewhere else.

What to put in a junk drawer?

Many kitchens have a junk drawer, but if it’s to be a useful space where you can find the items you need, try this organization method from Laura McHolm, professional organizer and co-founder of NorthStar Moving & Storage.

“First, empty everything out of your amazing junk drawer and delete items like below,” Laura explains.

“These mysterious parts: (you know, the parts of things you don’t know what they are but seem really important.) Take an empty jar like a pickle jar and put these random bits in there. Place the jar in a storage room, so the day you find out where they are going, they are there.

“Takeout menus: we know you save them so you can flip through them and see all the options, but all the menus are online. Create a Word document listing all your takeout options with links to their menus, then you can even order from their website, recording the call.

‘Receipts and Business Cards: If you really need them, use a receipt scanner to electronically save them and pull them out of the drawer. The same goes for business cards; put them in your contacts on your computer or phone and get rid of them.

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