27 Things You Should Have in Your Utility Drawer

You know the kitchen drawer — the one with an interesting assortment of odds and ends? Well at some point, the "utility drawer" often turns into the "junk drawer." And if yours is bordering on being more of a scrapbook, maybe this is the time to clean it out and stock it with some really practical items.

The well-stocked drawer is going to contain some very tiny items, as well as some rather unwieldy ones, so start by investing in divider trays. Next, begin collecting tiny tins (think empty Altoids containers) for some of the smaller items below. If you own a label printer, you can really make your drawer look spiffy — but masking tape and a marking pen will work, too. "Found items" like clean, empty tuna cans, old muffin tins, or even ice-cube trays are helpful for sorting the goods.

Then it's time to stock up on the following.

1. Flashlight

Probably one of the most important items in your utility drawer, and it needn't be bulky. For Christmas, my husband just got me one of these powerful, tiny LED flashlights. It takes up very little room, but boy, does it throw a big light.

2. Batteries

I keep an assortment of all sizes in the drawer, since you never know what you'll need.

3. Barbeque Lighter

These long lighters aren't only for the barbeque. I use mine to light my gas stove, candles, or the outdoor fireplace. When the power goes out, this is one of the first things I grab.

4. Tape Measure

I like both the retractable tape measures and the flexible tape measures that you use for sewing. I also have the freebie paper tape from Ikea, which is really handy.

5. Band-Aids

Keeping Band-Aids in the kitchen makes more sense than the bathroom, to me. There I'll be, slicing away, and oops! So having an assortment of Band-Aids right there in the utility drawer is pretty handy.

6. Safety Pins

Wardrobe malfunction right before work? Grab a safety pin. Buy a box of pins in assorted sizes.

7. Sewing Kit

Lose a button, or is a hem coming out? I love this zippered sewing kit that keeps everything in one place.

8. Eyeglass Repair Kit

Do you, or does a family member, wear glasses? If so, this little eyeglass repair kit will be a lifesaver. We even bring our kit on vacations.

9. String or Twine

I like this food-safe cooking twine. Tie a plumb-bob to the string end and get a straight edge for hanging wallpaper. String is one of those things you don't know you need until you need it.

10. Mini-Hammer

I could not live without my mini-hammer. It cracks nuts, pounds tough meat, and hangs pictures. They are nice for little hands when kids want to "help daddy," too.

11. Pliers

Ideally, your toolbox will contain a larger assortment, but a small pair of pliers are great to have in the drawer for emergencies.

12. Duct Tape

My favorite use is to get rid of pet hair, but here are 10 other great uses for duct tape.

13. Deck of Cards

I recently learned to play Texas Hold 'Em, which turned out to be a lot of fun and a great way to kill time. Of course, I had a deck of cards handy in that utility drawer. If the power goes out, light a votive candle and deal 'em, pardner.

14. Matches

I like to keep two types in the drawer: book matches and stick matches. If you live somewhere humid, the book matches can fail you. Store in a plastic bag.

15. Screwdriver

This is another "must-have." I like this ratcheting screwdriver that has the multiple bits.

16. Utility Knife

Also known as an "X-acto knife" or a "boxcutter," these are hugely practical. Keeping one in the utility drawer ensures I won't be tempted to use one of my good kitchen knives when a box is delivered.

17. Votive Candles

I'm not a big "candles-as-atmosphere" person, but when the power is out, votives are the greatest. Not only are they inexpensive, but you can also buy unscented ones. I also own some of the "flameless" candles, but they don't have a long life — so for disaster preparedness, I like real candles.

18. Take-Out Menus

Pizza, anyone? Chinese? Whatever your preference, if you keep your take-out menus in your utility drawer, you are ready to make a phone call. We keep ours in a manila folder so they stay tidy.

19. Tweezers

Sliver? Bones in fish? Thorn in the dog's paw? A pair of tweezers is a great addition to any utility drawer.

20. Nail File

The cheap emery boards will work, but a friend got me hooked on these crystal nail files, which perform so much better. They come in a case, which also makes them much easier to find.

22. Rubber Bands

Keeping rubber bands in your junk drawer makes good sense. How many times have I used only half a bag of frozen peas? Grab a rubber band out of the drawer, seal them up, and send them back into the freezer. Keep them in a Ziploc bag so that they stay tidy and out of the humidity, and they will last longer.

23. Pens and Pencils

Absolutely indispensable and inexpensive. You'll need both in the drawer.

24. Thumb Tacks

I am a big fan of bulletin boards, so naturally I keep thumb tacks around. I prefer push pins, which are easier to dig back out of the cork.

25. Tape

Let's face it — the drawer is not complete without tape. Stock up.

26. Chip Clips

Keep those chips, crackers, and bags of cereals crispy with clips. I really like binder clips the best, since they clamp more tightly than some of the "clothespin" types. They also take up less room.

27. Glue

I like two types in the drawer — Super Glue and Elmer's. Both get regular use.

Still not inspired to whip that drawer into shape? Then take a fun look at people whose utility drawers well, failed. And then get to organizing!

Is there anything I've forgotten? What's in your jun err, utility drawer?

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27 Things You Should Have in Your Utility Drawer

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Guest's picture

great post! I am printing this list for my daughter who is setting up her house. Might just make her a gift of this stuff for a belated housewarming.

Guest's picture

And next week please read 25 Things to Throw Out Today