Two of my favorite shows from the early 2000’s were called, Mission: Organization and Clean Sweep. The goal was “the intent of reorganizing and redesigning living space, in order to bring order to a particular room of a home (HGTV).”  

The shows would find a family with a very cluttered or unusable room (think “hoarder”). In 2 days, they would empty the room’s contents on the front lawn for sorting and a carpenter/organizing crew would make the room organized and usable again.  While all the room contents were on the lawn, the show host would set a timer and the homeowners would sort all the stuff into one of 3 categories:  KEEP, TOSS, or GIVE.  Then with the help of the host or the organizer, the family would thoroughly check the KEEP pile and make sure that all the items were worth keeping.  

In Mission: Organization, when the final KEEP items were selected, the organizer and the family would SORT, STACK, and STORE the remaining objects in the newly renovated room. 

I have always loved the way the rooms looked at the end:  clean, with a crisp coat of paint, organized, and uncluttered.  I feel a slightly irritated undertone when my house is cluttered.  And clutter seems to breed and multiply more clutter.  I think, at some level, we all like things neat and organized.

So here is the Junk Drawer Challenge!  I have been cleaning out 2 junk drawers a week with my youngest teen. (Yep, we have multiple “junk drawers” or just drawers that are full of random stuff.)  This is actually an executive functioning skill that you can have children practice on a regular basis that is helpful to the whole family! 

Executive Functioning Skill:  Organizing and Planning


  • Pick 1 drawer. 
  • Empty the contents onto the counter (big stuff) or a paper bag (small stuff). 
  • Sort items into groups of things that are similar. 
  • Determine if each item is a KEEP item, a TOSS item, or a GIVE item. 
  • Throw away the TOSS items first. 
  • Put the GIVE items in a bag or box near the door to be given away the next time there is an errand to run. 
  • For the KEEP items, decide if we really need to keep these items and, if so, put them back into the drawer in an organized manner. 
  • SORT all the items into groups.
  • STACK the items that we can (making sure they are still easily accessible).
  • STORE small things together in little containers.

I started with a short training of OUR PLAN (from above) and then after a drawer or 2, I stepped into more of a supervisor role.

We averaged about 30 minutes per drawer and my daughter was so delighted to show our family what she had done.   Also, everyone was more likely to keep the drawer neat, especially the teen organizer, at least for a while..

She even color coded the cookie cutters! It makes an art teacher proud.

Send us pictures of your Junk Drawer Clean Up! We would love to hear from you!

Posted by:Karen Riley

3 replies on “Junk Drawer Clean Up Challenge

  1. Superb information. Thank you!!!
    You make me want to uncluttered a room or 5

    Perhaps I better start with a drawer or 2. I know exactly which one

    Thanks. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️


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