5 Mistakes You’re Making When Organizing Your Kitchen Drawers, According to the Pros

published Aug 6, 2022
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Organizing a kitchen is no easy task — especially when it comes to the drawers. Figuring out what goes where in kitchen drawers can get overwhelming. The whole point, of course, is to create a functional system you can easily maintain.

So, for a few tips and tricks, we turned to pro organizers for their smart advice. Here are five of the most common mistakes people make when organizing their kitchen drawers — and how to fix them.

Mistake 1: Trying to fit too many things into one drawer.

Constantly fighting with all those utensils in your drawer? You’re definitely not alone. Professional organizer Sarah Dunn of Get It Dunn says that’s one of the biggest mistakes her clients make in the kitchen.

“The kitchen is such a common trap for products and utensils we never use or have only used once,” she says. The problem? Too many items makes for a frustrating experience every time you open the drawer (if you can even get it open at all). 

Pro solution: Before you even attempt to organize your drawers, Dunn suggests pulling everything out, categorizing it, then getting rid of duplicates or things you simply don’t need or use. Then, put things back by category. You’ll be able to open your drawers with ease, find what you need faster, and your space will look more organized!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Mistake 2: Mindlessly adding any random object in a junk drawer. 

On the one hand, if you have ample drawer space, it makes total sense to designate one as a catch-all. The real problem is the mindset behind the junk drawer. If you allow one area to become a black hole of random items, you’ll likely carry that practice over into other areas.

“Junk drawers are an excuse to not physically move around your house to manage the mundane,” says Caitlin Vincent, pro organizer and founder of Organized | AF

Pro solution: Give everything a specific home somewhere else. Turns out, most junk drawer items can go in your office space or in the trash. Keep coupons in your wallet if you’ll use them, then relocate mail, tape, and paper in an office area or desk, along with warranties and product instructions. Vincent says it’s easy to find those things online, so if you can switch to electronic storage, shred or recycle whatever you can. 

Mistake 3: Not using organization inserts.

Once you pare down your kitchen gear and relocate things that don’t belong, it’s time to actually organize the space within your drawers. If you don’t define spaces with physical dividers, everything will eventually get mixed together and you’ll end up back where you started.

“Without organizers to define boundaries and compartments for your space, it becomes easy for items to get cluttered or lost in the shuffle,” says Ashley Murphy, co-founder of NEAT Method

Pro solution: After taking stock of your drawers, cabinets, and pantry, invest in a few organizers to keep everything corralled by category. For example, keep utensils and flatware in an expandable drawer insert. All your stuff will be easier to see, find, and put away, which makes staying organized easier too!

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Mistake 4: Not using organizing products strategically.

Already have organizational products? If drawer space is at a premium in your home, then not any organizer will do the trick, says Jen Martin, founder of Reset Your Nest

A three-compartment utensil organizer, for example, will quickly become crowded if you have a lot of flatware. And organizers with rounded edges might look sleek, but they don’t maximize space in rectangular drawers. 

Pro solution: Tailor your organizational products to your family’s lifestyle, which can only happen with a strategic approach. Always declutter and measure before buying products so you have the right product and fit.

Martin suggests choosing expandable drawer dividers to create separation but use the full length of the drawer to maximize the space. It may also help to consider products that match the shape of your drawer (which is most likely rectangular). 

Mistake 5: Storing kitchen knives in a drawer.

If you’re not a fan of counter clutter, then it may seem logical to store your knives in your silverware drawer. But nothing will make your knives go dull (or slice your finger) faster than letting them roll around in a drawer without being contained, says pro organizer Tracy McCubbin, CEO of dClutterfly

Pro solution: McCubbin agrees that knife blocks take up extra counter space, and most people don’t have extra drawers to put in a drawer knife holder. As an alternative, she recommends mounting a magnetic knife rack, which frees up counter and drawer space and keeps knives super sharp and easy to find

How do you organize and maintain your kitchen drawers? What’s your system? Tell us your tips in the comments below.