Surprising Alternative Uses For Junk Drawer Clutter

Almost everybody has a junk drawer at home. It’s probably where you stash items that seem like they’d be useful someday, even if you don’t have a purpose for them in the present. But as it turns out, you can find alternative uses for many of the items in your junk drawer.

Below, check out the most surprising uses for the items that are probably in your junk drawer right now.

1. Use a rubber band to keep your door open

Hand holding door knob

A hand holding a doorknob. | SasinParaksa/iStock/Getty Images 

Rubber bands and twist ties pile up in everybody’s junk drawer. But they don’t have to languish there forever. Good Housekeeping recommends using a rubber band to keep your door open if you have to walk in and out with your hands full. Just loop a rubber band around both the inside and outside doorknobs, twisting it so that the “X” the rubber band forms will press the latch open.

Next: Dig up some spare change the next time you buy flowers. 

2. Add a penny to a vase of flowers to keep them fresh

flowers in vases

Joanna Gaines’ flower vases | Joanna Gaines via Instagram

Pennies are another common junk drawer item. Good Housekeeping recommends putting them to use by adding one to a vase of flowers to keep them fresher longer. Reader’s Digest notes that the copper in pennies reportedly acts as an acidifier and prevents the growth of bacteria. That can keep cut flowers fresh longer — an excellent use of your junk drawer change.

Next: Don’t throw out stale tea bags. 

3. Use leftover tea bags to take care of odors

Tea bag in a hot tea cup on a table

A cup of hot tea | eugenekeebler/iStock/Getty Images

If you have leftover tea bags — maybe a blend that you didn’t particularly like, or a flavor that’s been hanging around too long in your kitchen — don’t throw them out! Business Insider reports that you can use tea bags to take care of unpleasant odors. Just put some damp tea bags — even used ones, if you have them on hand — in a jar and place them in your refrigerator to absorb unwanted smells.

Next: Put extra drinking straws to use in your jewelry box. 

4. Keep your jewelry tangle-free with drinking straws

pile of matted necklaces

Pile of tangled jewelry | VvoeVale/ Images

If you have extra drinking straws hanging out in your junk drawer, you can put them to work keeping your jewelry free of tangles either at home or while you travel. Good Housekeeping recommends threading the chains of your necklaces through the straw, and then hooking the clasp. Your necklaces will stay tangle-free — which saves you the time you’d otherwise spend trying to detangle them.

Next: Don’t throw out that piece of chalk. 

5. Use a piece of chalk to prevent your silverware from tarnishing


Silverware | Hanohiki/iStock/Getty Images

If you have a few pieces of chalk floating around in your junk drawer, you can put them to use keeping your silverware from tarnishing. Real Simple recommends tying up a few pieces of chalk in a piece of cheesecloth. Then, you can store the chalk with your good silverware to slow any tarnishing that would happen over time.

Next: Put spare buttons to use to organize your jewelry. 

6. Contain earrings with spare buttons

many old buttons

A drawer full of buttons | diephosi/ Images

Spare buttons are useful to keep if you still have (and wear) the clothes they came from. But if you have extra buttons in your junk drawer, you don’t have to throw them out. Good Housekeeping recommends putting them to use in your jewelry box. If you often misplace earrings (or earring backs), fasten each pair through the holes of a button. The buttons will make it easier to keep pairs of earrings together.

Next: Binder clips can make charging your phone less of a hassle. 

7. Use binder clips to keep your chargers in order

A row of black binder clips

Binder clips | Brett_Hondow/ Images

Whether your junk drawer is in your kitchen or your office, you probably have extra binder clips floating around. Fortunately, you can put them to use keeping your charging cords in order. Just clip them to the side of your desk or bedside table and thread the cords through them. That way, the cords will always stay within reach and you won’t have to rummage around when you need to charge your phone, tablet, or computer.

Next: Use this junk drawer item when you organize dry goods. 

8. Turn an envelope into a funnel

Pantry full of canned goods

Pantry full of canned goods | yokaew/Getty Images

Many people like to store dry ingredients in mason jars or other glass vessels in the kitchen. But transferring them can be a pain if you don’t have a funnel on hand. Martha Stewart recommends turning an envelope into a funnel by cutting off a generous portion of the corner, snipping off the tip, and then curling it into a cone. For especially large jars or quantities of ingredients, you can use a manilla envelope.

Next: Wine corks can actually help you clean. 

9. Use wine corks to clean your scissors

scissors with grocery coupons

Scissors with grocery coupons | Kreinick/iStock/Getty Images

If you have spare wine corks rolling around in your junk drawer, you can put them to work cleaning your scissors, no matter how sharp they are, without cutting yourself. Martha Stewart recommends squeezing lemon juice or white vinegar over the blades of the scissors. Then, sprinkle them with coarse salt and rub with a cork. Then, just rinse the scissors off with water (and dry them to prevent rusting).

Next: Matchboxes have this surprising use. 

10. Keep track of your sewing essentials with a spare matchbox

needle and thread

Needle and thread | Andrei Berezovskii/iStock/Getty Images 

If you have an empty matchbox in your junk drawer, you can put it to use keeping track of the sewing essentials that would otherwise go missing around the house. Real Simple recommends tucking your needles, pins, and thread into the matchbox. You’ll know where all those essentials are, and you can even put the matchbox in your suitcase so you have it with you when you travel.

Next: You can put old ketchup packets to use for this surprising task. 

11. Use the contents of old ketchup packets to polish your jewelry

Opened ketchup packet

Opened ketchup packet | TiktaAlik/ Images

Ketchup packets are a common junk drawer item. But The Guardian reports that you can put them to good use by polishing your silver jewelry with the ketchup inside. Let your jewelry sit in the ketchup for a few minutes, and if your jewelry has a detailed surface, use an old toothbrush to work the ketchup into the crevices. To avoid damaging the jewelry, don’t leave the ketchup on for too long, and rinse and dry when you’re finished.

Next: Use this medication to get rid of stains. 

12. Crush aspirin to remove a sweat stain

blue shirt with an underarm sweat stain

Blue shirt with an underarm sweat stain | nito100/ Images

Plenty of people have old tablets of aspirin (and other medications like antacids) rolling around in their junk drawer. But The Guardian reports that you can put those aspirin tablets to use when you need to remove a sweat stain from a favorite shirt. Crush two tablets of aspirin and mix the powder with about three ounces of warm water. Then, soak the stained part of the shirt in the paste for two to three hours.

Next: Don’t throw out these items, which often come in junk mail. 

13. Use extra return address labels on your belongings

return labels

Return address labels | nobtis/ Images

Many people have extra return address labels in their junk drawer (especially the kind that come free in the mail). Real Simple reports that you can put those labels to use anytime you need to brand one of your belongings as your own. When you lend someone a book, a binder, a piece of Tupperware, or even a tool like a stapler, stick a return address label on it to make sure they remember to return it.

Next: Don’t throw out old glasses cases. 

14. Store small items in an extra glasses case

Glasses case

Glasses case | G_J_West/ Images

If you have an extra case from your sunglasses or eyeglasses, it doesn’t have to languish in the back of your junk drawer. Good Housekeeping recommends putting it to use the next time you travel by using it to securely store small items. It can easily hold your jewelry, corral your pens, store your makeup, or even hold small electronics like a fitness tracker or an MP3 player.

Next: Jumbo paper clips can help you with this task. 

15. Use a large paper clip to clasp your bracelet

bracelets on a woman's wrist

Bracelets on a woman’s wrist | Stefan Rotter/ Images

Paper clips are another common junk drawer item, one that doesn’t have to be relegated to holding together old receipts or pieces of mail. Good Housekeeping notes that you can use a jumbo-sized paper clip to fasten a bracelet that you’d otherwise struggle to clasp. Just unfold the paper clip into an “S” and hook one end through the jump ring. Hold the other end of the paper clip and use your free hand to bring the clasp around to latch the bracelet.

Next: Use an old comb to help with this task. 

16. Untangle the fringe on a rug with an extra comb


Rug fringe | SafakOguz/ Images

If you have an extra comb floating around in your junk drawer, you can put it to work untangling the fringe on an area rug. Good Housekeeping recommends using the same strategy you’d use to detangle your hair: Start at the tips of the fringe and work your way in to avoid creating a bigger tangle.

Next: Don’t throw out those wide rubber bands. 

17. Use rubber bands to keep clothes on hangers

women's clothing on hangers

Women’s clothing on hangers | TanyaRu/ Images

Another surprising use for the rubber bands in your junk drawer? Keeping slippery tops and strappy dresses on their hangers in your closet. Good Housekeeping reports that this easy trick will keep your clothes from sliding off the hangers, and all you have to do is loop wide rubber bands over the ends of each hanger.

Next: Use pill bottles to keep track of these items. 

18. Keep track of change with extra pill bottles

Pills in bottle

Pills in a medical vial | Luchschen/iStock/Getty Images

Once your prescription medications are gone, you’re left with empty pill bottles. Good Housekeeping recommends putting them to use to store your spare change. The publication characterizes the bottles as the ideal way to keep track of quarters, especially if you need to keep them in your car to pay tolls. That way, you can avoid rummaging around in cup holders or other nooks and crannies when you need those quarters.

Next: Collect pet hair with this surprising item. 

19. Use an extra rubber glove to collect pet hair

A dog lying on a couch

A dog on a couch | beer5020/ Images

If one of your dishwashing gloves goes missing, then the orphaned glove probably goes in the junk drawer. But it doesn’t have to languish there. Good Housekeeping recommends using slightly dampened rubber gloves to pick up pet hair from your furniture. Just put the glove (or gloves) on and run your hands over the upholstery to collect the pet hair you’d otherwise have to lint roll or vacuum away.

Next: Use this item to get rid of stains on suede. 

20. Get rid of stains on suede with an emery board

Suede shoes

Suede shoes | Andrija1/ Images

Have a spare emery board lying around in your junk drawer? Put it to use buffing away stains on your suede shoes or bags. Good Housekeeping reports that you can get those stains to disappear by gently buffing them out with the nail-shaping tool. The Guardian also recommends holding the shoe over steam from a kettle after you’ve rubbed the stain with the emery board to get it to disappear all the way.

Read more: Joanna Gaines Has This Brilliant Tip for Handling Sentimental Clutter

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