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Got a Minute? Clean Out One Drawer

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What can you do with just five minutes? Actually, way more than you think! Introducing Food52 in 5: your cheat sheet for speedy, delicious recipes, fun mini projects, and more.

The best thing about drawers is that you can close them, shutting out any disorganized chaos lurking inside—along with all thoughts of cleaning them up. Taking on a full, top-to-bottom kitchen (or bedroom or closet or garage) cleanup might feel insurmountable, but you can definitely tackle one drawer at a time—even a cavernous black hole of a junk drawer—in just a few spare minutes. The sooner you start (and the faster you do it), the better you’ll feel...just like ripping off a Band-Aid.

Photo by Julia Gartland

Here’s how I like to get it done, in five minutes or less:

  • Set a timer for five minutes. Then, no matter what you store in that drawer—junk mail, utensils, socks, kitchen towels—empty the whole thing out. Yes, everything. You’ll need a clean slate if you want to avoid having to reorganize those same items over and over again.
  • Next, sort that big pile into smaller ones based on whatever category your heart desires. For utensils: forks, knives, spoons, others. Or for towels: small, medium, large, toss. Junk drawers can be a little murkier, but you’ll see common threads, like takeout menus, pens and pencils, chargers, or loose change. Do this as quickly as you can, and don’t stop if you don’t know where something belongs. Follow your gut instinct. (And if you still can’t figure it out, make a “later” pile.)
  • After that, toss anything deemed as trash, return any misplaced items to where they actually belong, and use a dustpan brush to sweep out any crumbs. If you have time, use rubber bands or clips to keep those small piles together.

Time’s up! At the end of five minutes, return your trimmed piles back into the drawer. Even if it’s still a little chaotic, it’s a more manageable chaos than when you started. And if you really need to, you can tackle it again tomorrow—in even less time.

What's your best tip for tackling messy drawers? Any organizational hacks we should know about?

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Tags: Kitchen Hacks, Storage Tips, Tips & Techniques