say goodbye to messy drawers

March 22, 2024


I have just completed my deep cleaning. 👍 I started in January and it's now March, so you can see I like to take my time. To keep me on task I kept a to-do list and checked off completed tasks. That was a good feeling! I gave myself days off and some days only worked for ten minutes, but little by little, the house was reset and clean. But this is not a post so much about how I deep clean, but a post about how I tidied up my drawers and cupboards, then put a system in place to keep them tidy--forever. I know it works because I've been doing it for years.

This post is for you if you've already decluttered. And this post is for you if you want to declutter. Let's begin at the beginning, the year I decluttered and purged my entire house. I've written many posts about that experience, and for the most part, it was a very good experience. I loved my tidy home and was determined not to let the clutter creep back in. Spring cleaning helps, and daily and weekly cleaning tasks are essential, but cleaning alone won't stop the clutter from coming back. I wanted real solutions, because once I had the pleasure of living in a decluttered home, I was never going back. Ever. I did my reading and gleaned what I could from the experts and now I know the secret of keeping clutter at bay. And it's not organizing, although I do that, and it's not purchasing organizing products, although I do have plenty of those too, it's all about following one rule. In this post you'll see all the organizing products I've purchased over the years, and I give you links so you can purchase them too, but in no way do I think you need to purchase a thing. I've always been a fan of shoeboxes and lids to corral items in the pantry, drawers and closets, and I still think an empty tuna can works like a charm. But I've been married now for 50 years and have loved making a home for every single day of it, and over the last four years I have treated myself to some nifty items, but like I said, you don't need them.

Here's the secret: There must be an allocated place for every single item you own, meaning every item in your home must have it's own home where it resides when not in use.  Not a crammed or scrunched home, but a home with a bit of room that makes sense to everyone who lives in the home and uses that item. If your drawers are crammed, then the items really don't have a proper home and people can't really put things back and you can't have that calm home you've been craving. You've got to purge first and there's no getting around it. But the good news is, if you are purging, then you are also deep cleaning. Yep! It's a twofer. Here's how to purge and deep clean at the same time: Completely empty the contents of your space, but only do one drawer, one shelf, etc. at a time. Lay the items out on the bed, floor, counter, whatever is most practical. Next, vacuum and scrub that now empty space until it sparkles. Line the space with plain white paper if needed. Now you'll begin to fill the space back up, but first label two boxes, one with "relocate" and one with "donate". Notice I don't have a "sale" box. Unless the item is worth more than $50 your least aggravation is to donate. Also have your trash can nearby. As you now begin to fill up your sparkly clean space, examine each item and decide if you need/want to keep it. Is it a duplicate, or broken, or just unused? If you can answer yes to even one, it goes into the trash can or one of the boxes. Even though I go through this ritual every year, I still find quite a few things that I no longer use. 

OK, so say you've done that but your space is still too full? Hmmmm. Do you possibly still have too much stuff? Sounds like yes. Your space should not be crowded with rarely used stuff.  You are not a stuff manager or a stuff curator, you are a busy person who wants your home to serve you well and that can't be done in a crowded space, so let's get rid of more stuff!

You don't need to hold onto anything "just in case"...

  • might want it one day (you haven't used it yet, how will that change?)
  • ...your kids might want it (they don't, just ask them)
  • spent a lot of money on it (that money is gone, keeping it doesn't bring it back)
  • once loved it (but now you don't, why not give it another chance to be loved by someone else)
  • received it as a gift (the gift was the generous act of giving and the gracious act of receiving, not the actual item)

OK, so now, finally, that drawer is done and it looks great. It's roomy even and every item has it's own designated spot. You've got a few shoeboxes and lids (and a tuna can or two) to corral like items so they don't shift around in the drawers, but now you have to keep it that way. The way I do that is to follow the one in/one out rule. Religiously. Here's how that works: if I buy a new something-or-other, say a pitcher, then that means I'm replacing a pitcher and an old pitcher must be donated. Once you've decluttered, and then found a home for everything AND abide by the one in/one out rule, you will keep clutter at bay. You really will. I know it sounds simple, maybe too simple, but simple works, and the one in/one out rule does work and perhaps its simplicity is what makes it work. Sure, once a year you'll do a spring clean and go through it again, and you'll find a few more things to let go, but each time you do, it gets faster and easier. I have built up my declutter muscles pretty well and can quickly go through a drawer, but all that takes time. You'll soon get into the habit of purchasing less, because knowing that bringing something home that is not a consumable means that you have to get rid of something, you'll think twice before you purchase. Then you get to save money and not create more waste. Win win, yay you!

My organization is not Pinterest pretty because no one sees the insides of my drawers and closets (except now you) so it doesn't need to look glam at all, it just needs to work for us. I use these plastic organizers all throughout the house, see the two pictures below, and they are on half off sale right now so I purchased another set. At time of this writing they also offer a coupon for extra savings, so click that coupon box.  If you have Prime they'll arrive tomorrow so you can start organizing right away--that is, AFTER you purge!

hallway drawer

The plastic organizers are so handy in the kitchen and bathroom. Right now they are half off.

You know I'm a big fan of the good old shoebox for corralling items, but just recently I replaced most of them with Ikea's Skubb organizer set of six. I swooned when I saw them and ended up going back to buy six sets to use around the house, $7 for a set of six. Below I'm using them in my pantry and in a drawer for my shawls. When you corral like items with like, it not only keeps items from shifting, but makes it easier to find and easier to write out a shopping list.

I keep my bathroom supplies, kitchen pantry and freezer under control by following these rules:

  • No buying in bulk, we just don't need to as there are just the two of us.
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it to limit impulse buying and unnecessary experimenting.
  • Ignore sales and only buy a sale item if needed.
  • Stick to shopping the perimeter of the store where the dairy, fresh produce and meats are located. I rarely venture into the interior aisles unless I'm shopping from my list and tend to treat it like a danger zone--run in, grab, run out! The perimeter is most always a healthier choice.
Costco and big box stores are a whole different can of worms. First, you have to buy in bulk, so we do have a back stock of toilet paper and other often used items. They give out food samples and I pretend I don't see them to avoid an accidental purchase. We eat a lot of chicken, but I only keep one type of chicken in the freezer at a time. One month we might buy chicken thighs, the next month will be breasts. When I pull the last one out I put it on my shopping list. The same goes for frozen meats. Not having to keep a variety of cuts of meat and poultry has kept things under control in the freezer; not so crowded that I can't find anything and for the most part I can remember what's in there.

I was so happy this year because I think for the first time in my life I didn't have to throw out freezer burned food or stale pantry items! Big hallelujah! 

I do decant, but only items that will go stale if left in the original packaging. For that I use inexpensive mason jars with plastic screw on tops. I don't label as I can see the contents through the glass, but I might add the date if I'm worried I might not use it up in a timely manner. I'm looking at you, cornflakes.

Above the refrigerator is where my canning jars are kept. While I don't can, I will use all of these in the freezer for the upcoming orange juice squeeze, summer's roasted tomato sauce and a batch of jam. The plastic jar lids made my life so much easier. They don't rust like the metal lids but cannot be used for canning, only freezing or pantry storage.

The pasta and dried bean drawer with beans and rices in the plain old mason jar.

Here's a random tip from a You-Tuber: If you have large, bulky containers like a turkey roaster or a beverage tub that are used only once or twice a year, use them as storage vessels. I put all my spice backups in our large summer wine tub and it's so easy to grab and pull out, and if I do actually need to use the roaster or beverage tub, it's easy enough to empty. And since I'm on spices, I finally muscled all my spices into matching bottles I found on Amazon. Hint: measure the height of your drawer to make sure your bottles can stand upright! My bottles came with printed labels and I placed them alphabetically in the drawer next to my stove where they will be most used. Backup spices are in that wine cooler. I absolutely love my spice drawer! Not only is it pretty, but I can find everything at a glance. Game changer if you like to cook with a variety of herbs and spices.

The seldom used beverage cooler now holds my spice backups. Top shelf in the back, you can see I'm storing my tart and cake pans upright in a wooden plate rack. I bought a few of these and use them around the house.

Behold the alphabetized spice drawer. Measure your drawers to make sure the bottles you purchase will fit. Mine came with labels and although they are out of stock, they have plenty of others! You can see the bamboo adjustable dividers that I use in many of my drawers. They come in several sizes and right now are on sale with a coupon for extra savings, so check that coupon box!

We are not fans of single use paper products and don't purchase paper towels, napkins, plates or cups. After we use a cloth napkin, it goes into the washing machine machine to be washed with the next load. Both my children grew up using cloth napkins (most always made by me from leftover fabrics) and both now use them in their own homes. Again, I'm using the bamboo drawer dividers.

Again, with my loathing of single use items, we do not buy K cups. These plastic reusable K cups can be filled with your own coffee and last for years. Save money, use your favorite coffee, and limit your waste! I think you can purchase them for Nespresso too. To organize my coffee I have this little cups drawer that the coffee maker sits on. Right now it's on super sale--there is a spring sale at Amazon right now and I don't know how long it will last, but at this time it's 59% off.

I also bought this under sink shelf with drawer. Very well made and easy to keep clean.
They are also on sale at this time and I might get another one for the bathroom. 

I didn't mean this to be a big shopping post, but these are items that I have purchased over the last few years that have made my life easier. I am still a big fan of the free stuff like shoe boxes and lids, and still think a tuna can organizer is pretty nifty too, but if any of these organizers strike your fancy, just know I have them all and love them. If you purchase a product from my Amazon links I will receive a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you. The cost is the same for you if you purchase from my link or not. Using my link helps to defray the costs of running a blog and your support is much appreciated. Thank you.

Hello clean kitchen!

I hope this post helps you in your journey to achieve a calm and welcoming home. It's always been my goal and I'd love to hear from you about the subject. My next post that I'm writing in tandem with this post is how I declutter my handknits and crafts. It can be tricky, but I'll try to demystify it and turn the impossible into a possibility.  Look for that in the next few days. I think it will be a good one. 

xo Kristen

If you would like to receive Knitionary posts by email, please subscribe hereI would never sell your information but I don't know how to do that sort of thing anyway, but if I did, I still wouldn't!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you so much for supporting the blog. If you'd like to make a comment, please scroll down. I reply to each comment and that response will appear directly below your comment. If you would like a personal reply, please know that I use the Blogger platform and they do not give me your contact information when you comment. If you would like a personal reply, you can contact me using the contact form on the right side at the very end of my website

You Might Also Like


  1. Ooh, I love your breakfast/dining nook, Kristin! Our current (till-death-do-us-part) abode while plenty roomy is not configured for such a thing. Thanks for all your tips, particularly the storage ones. Right now I am thinking - as about only 1 in 20 people who love sardines - that sardine cans can be just as useful storage containers and will fit into even more nooks and crannies than even tuna cans Chloe

    1. I knew it! I knew it! We are sisters from another mister! I too love sardines and have a few cans in my pantry. My kids put them in my stocking! I'm always afraid of fish breath so I only eat them when I know I'm staying home for the day! I like them mashed on toast.

  2. Hi Kristen! I always love hearing from you - you are so cheerful! I have come a long way in the declutter world, with a ways to go. Your idea of purging/donating makes this so much easier. The one technique I have is the maybe box. For things in kitchen cabinets that I don't use often I put into a box for the basement. If I need it I take it back. After a while, if I haven't used it I donate it. It is a win-win. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your spring :)

    1. I love the idea of a maybe box. I think my attic is the maybe box. It's a kind of holding zone. Stuff goes up there when I'm not sure. I used to ignore it, but now I do try to go through it once a year and doing that has kept it manageable. Thank you for your comment.

  3. I love how organised everything is. I have started a journey of decluttering… though slowly and have been following Tidy Moose on instagram who is on a non buy year and part of that is removing two things a day from your home. I don’t stick completely to that but it is always in my mind and once a week or so I pick a drawer or space and have at it. Last weekend I removed 39 things! I have notice that my home is feeling more open and light even though the tidying is behind doors and drawers. Even better I have lost the inclination to buy “things” and so we are also saving money. My big job when I have time is to declutter my son’s, who has moved away to university, wardrobe so that there is space to us for things that need a home. But the biggest rule her is if it is going? Get it into the boot of the car so it is out of the house!

    1. I absolutely love that idea of removing two things a day. At the end of the year you'd be over 700 things lighter! That is amazing! My decluttering journey was also pretty gradual and I think it took me a year, but I did not work on it every day. Two items a day is a great goal. I don't know if this is your first child who has gone off to uni, but it does take a few years before parent and child finally sort out the adult child's stuff. When my gf was 70, she went to clean out her parents home where she had grown up, and in her closet was her cheerleading outfit they had saved! And yes, agree about getting it out of the house and at least into the car. It has a better chance of getting to the charity shop that way! Thank you for your comment. We are all in this together.

  4. Thank you for all your wonderful tips and tricks. Much appreciated


You make my day when you make a comment!


afghan Alana Dakos ally pally ambassador Amy Herzog Ankestrick Arte Italica baby Baby Cocktails bakelite baking berry picking Best Friday of the Month best of Ravelry Big Sur blue transferware book review books boutique brook cables California candy child children children's activities Christmas Christmas crafts Christmas knitting cleaning collections cookie cutters cookies cooking craft Crafts crochet cross-stitch day trip decluttering decorating designer spotlight discount diy dog dolls Easter eau de vie Elizabeth Bradley Elizabeth Zimmerman embroidery entertaining Facebook fall fall decorating fall garden family featured first car fit flower arranging flowers free pattern Friday night party group friends funny Fur garden gardening Giants Gifted Hostess give-away giveaway gluten free gourmet group Halloween herbs holiday home how to set up a party group jewelry Kaffe Fassett KAL Kim Hargreaves kitting Knit Picks knitting laundry Le Jacquard Francais Little French Knits Los Altos lunch Mailbu Making Things Marie Wallin Martin Storey menu minimalism money talk mosaic movies my house my patterns my town nails needlepoint needles October challenge Octoberfest ollalie organizing original design outdoor seating owl party prep pear peg dolls pies pomegranates poncho preview quilting recipe recycling redwork review roses Rowan San Francisco Sarah Hatton sewing sewing room tour shawl shopping shower social media softie spring spring garden stash Stitches West summer summer garden summer knitting Sunday Morning Swans Island table setting test test knit Thanksgiving Three Irish Girls TNNA tomatoes top 10 list toys travel tutorial twinning ufo Uncommon Threads vacation Valentine vegetable garden videos wedding winter garden wip Woolfolk yarn yarn for sale Ysolda