Welcome To My World: The distinguished junk drawer

What actually is a junk drawer? In my case, it actually comes down to being raised Pennsylvania Dutch — the “shift and make do” kind. Most of us have a tendency to save things and tell ourselves, “I might use this one day.” We just can’t seem to throw away an item that might be of use one day. I’ll admit there are times, one or two of the items will be used again. Yet, most of us place these “someday useful items” in a special drawer that has the distinguished title of “Junk Drawer.”

I can vividly recall Mom’s junk drawer in the kitchen of our farmhouse. It was filled with empty spools, buttons, scraps of paper (tablets were scarce), and chalk (for the chalkboard), and more. I’m sure everyone of the 10 children, at one time or another, asked, “Mom, do we have any ________ (whatever)?” And before we were finished with our sentence, she’d say, “Check the junk drawer.”

In my mother’s case, she also had a small drawer in the bureau of her bedroom. As a youngster, I loved going through her drawers just “to see.” Her clothing drawers had clothes in them, but this particular drawer of hers bugged me. I was about 11 or 12 years old at this time. Thus, I considered it a bedroom “junk drawer,” because some items didn’t belong in it. In it were broken combs, a brush, blush (she never wore makeup), hair pins and nets. Then there were items such as hankies, spools with very little thread on them, a lost sock, or whatever. I felt this to be only for hair and makeup. Even after I organized it, it was a mess a few weeks later. Once I became a teenager, I outgrew organizing this drawer.

Perhaps it was my nature to be organized. I can’t recall the junk drawers of the home I raised my children in, but they will attest to me being “crazy clean.” They’ve often said, “She even cleans the cellar (not a den). I outgrew this “crazy clean” trait as well.


Because I decided to ask a few friends and family if they had a junk drawer, I felt it’s only fair to tell about mine.

In my dining area is a small table that holds 4 small drawers, with a small door that has one shelf. I consider this whole small table my junk drawer. The top drawer holds coupons and restaurant menus. The 2nd holds flash lights and candles. The 3rd holds small plastic containers filled with tacks, plugs, erasers, picture hangers. The 4th drawer holds all kinds of tape, from measuring to freezer. The doors top shelf holds a plastic basket, filled with batteries, while the bottom floor holds several small tablets. On the door itself I hang keys. I’d call myself an “organized junkie.”

I don’t go to the tool room in the basement often. But, I wanted to include the tool room, which I always felt is a mess, but could not understand as my husband is an orderly person. So I asked, “Where do you keep your junk tool drawer?” He answered, “The whole room is a junk drawer!” Glad he said it, not me.

In talking to my friends about junk drawers, JoAnn told me she has a junk drawer in most rooms, but only places miscellaneous items that belong in that room in that junk drawer. She adds, “A bathroom hair brush does not belong in a kitchen junk drawer.”

Alice mentioned she has a kitchen junk drawer and it gets cleaned out when she does her spring housecleaning.

I thought Jane had an excellent idea. She bought small, deep baskets and hung them on the wall of the garage, next to the kitchen entrance, for junk stuff. She even placed names on the basket---rags, small tools, and miscellaneous stuff. But she exclaimed, “No one seems to be able to read. The baskets have most anything in them!”

One of my Red Hats, Cheryl, told me she has a kitchen junk drawer, “It has scissors, hammers, screw drivers, flashlights that most need batteries, string, all kinds of stuff. The other drawer has baby food jars filled with all size screws, nuts, bolts, tacks, and door stops, matches, again all kinds of good stuff.” Now that’s a well organized junk drawer.

My daughter, Mande, has her junk drawer in the kitchen. “It has scotch tape for Christmas and birthday wraps. Jessica (her daughter) has incense in it. There is a tomato pin cushion with pins and needles stuck in it that I never use. I have used tinfoil since I never know when I’ll need it. I have candles in case the electric goes out. Also, a measuring tape that I should measure my waist with, and never do.” This drawer needs to have a throw-away day.

My niece, Bev, has his/her junk drawers in the kitchen. “Mine is filled with extra keys to the house, magnets, notepads that come in the mail, pencils, old key rings, and expired coupons---things I probably will never use. My useful items are pens, scissors, tape, calculator, coupon organizer. I try to clean out the useless junk once a year, but somehow it fills back up.”

Bev continues, “My husband’s junk drawer holds tape measure, screw driver, super glue, masking tape, permanent markers, razor knife, and quite a few useless pieces. I can’t name them, but they’ve been in there since we moved in the house and have never been used. If my scissor disappears, I can usually find it in his junk drawer. Sometimes I wonder why we save all this junk.”

My niece, Nancy, claims, “My husband is an organized person. Everything in his so-called junk drawer has its place and everything goes back to its place when it’s done being used. That is, unless Gracie or I borrowed it and didn’t return it to the proper place. Long ago, he wrote “Dad’s scissor” on one, in the hopes that we’d return it to its special spot, where it is supposed to be.”

I think all junk drawers, whether messy or compartmentalized, have stories to tell. What kind of story does your distinguished junk drawer tell?