Organizing your dresser drawers is one of those things that sounds way easier than it is when you actually try to do it. How exactly should you arrange everything? By type? Size? Plus, how do you get everything you need to fit inside the drawers without making them look disorganized?
If you want some tips to get your dresser drawers in tip-top shape, you’ve come to the right place. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the best ways for you to organize your dresser. While we can’t speak to your specific style, we can give you our picks for the best 16 tips to keep a dresser well organized. You may apply them however you like.
What is the Best Way to Organize Dresser Drawers?
As with anything having to do with style, there isn’t one best way to organize your drawers. The way you like best we’ll depend on your personal sensibilities, the type of dresser/dressers you have, and what and how much you’re storing.
Still, there are some basic rules of thumb that can be applied to almost anyone’s sensibilities and most types of drawers you will encounter.
At the end of the day, you want dresser drawers that have a consistent, well-thought-out system of organization and a minimal amount of clutter. To accomplish this you will need to plan ahead.
What Kinds of Clothes Should Go in Dresser Drawers?
Sometimes people have trouble maintaining organization in their dresser drawers simply because they are putting items in them that really don’t belong there.
The following items should generally go in your dresser drawers, while bulkier items should be stored separately:
- Light shirts: This can include things like tank tops, T-Shirts and even some long sleeve shirts assuming they aren’t thick sweaters or jackets.
- Dress shirts: While you don’t want to have your suit jacket in your dresser drawer, it’s fine to keep dress shirts and polo shirts there. For nicer dress shirts we recommend you keep them neatly folded in a drawer that has some breathable wiggle room.
- Socks/hosiery: Socks, pantyhouse and other similar items are generally stored together in the smaller drawers on a traditional dresser. If you’re using a dresser where all the drawers are the same size, you can use organizers to keep these in place. We’ll discuss this in more detail in our list of tips.
- Shorts: Shorts are great to keep stored in your drawers because they are easily foldable and can fit into small spaces.
- Casual pants: Jeans, khakis and sweat pants can make a fine addition to your dresser drawers. If you have a small dresser however, you may consider keepin the thicker pants like jeans on a shelf in your closet instead so they don’t eat up all the space you have. Alternatively you can keep most of them in the closet but a few in the drawer.
- Miscellaneous items: As we’ve mentioned, some dressers come with small drawers meant for miscellaneous, non-clothing items. Often these drawers are used for watches, jewelry and other dress related knick knacks. If you’ve got one of these on your dresser, you should start thinking about what should really go in it.
While you go over this list, think about the best ways in which these items could be arranged around each other. Also, consider anything you plan on storing that isn’t on the list and make sure it will still make a good fit.
What Clothes Go in What Drawers?
The answer to this question really depends on how your dresser is structured. In most cases of traditional dressers, you’re going to have larger drawers on the bottom that slowly gets smaller until they reach the top. Some even have small drawers near the top to hold things like jewelry.
If that’s the case with your drawers, it’s a good idea to start with larger items like long-sleeved shirts or casual pants near the bottom and work your way up to putting items like socks and underwear on the top.
Alternatively, if you have a dresser where all the drawers are the same, you can really imagine it any way you like. In our tips, we will go over how you can arrange your drawers practically for optimal use.
Assess Your Drawers Before Filling Them
Before you decide on what type of organizational system you’d like to use, you should first ensure you have assessed your drawers while empty for their strengths and weaknesses. You want to check out things like how many drawers you have, what their size variations are, and how that contrasts with how much you want to fit within them.
You don’t have to know every detail of how you’re going to make everything fit while maintaining an orderly appearance, but it is a good idea to have a basic map outlined in your mind before you start.
As you begin to add items of clothing to the drawers, you can adjust your approach as you come across problems. If something isn’t fitting one way, either try folding it differently or consider one of the larger drawers.
I made a guide on this for you here.
Follow a Consistent Form of Organization
If you’ve organized your drawers before, only to have them slowly become unorganized over time, chances are you didn’t stick with a consistent form of organization. However you decide to organize your clothes within your drawers, it should be consistent.
Having a consistent method of organization incentivizes you to put your clothes back where they go to maintain their orderly look. When you’ve just vaguely organized things, on the other hand, it’s easy to lose sight of what will happen over time if you keep placing things in the wrong spots.
You can check out this guide for a simple, yet elegant system.
Divide Your Clothing By Type and Size
Before you decide which specific drawers various clothing items will go inside of, you want to divide them up by type and size.
The reason it’s a good idea to do this is that it gives you a better idea of how much space each type of item will take up. This in turn provides you with a better idea of which drawers will be best to hold each type and keep them together.
One of the most popular ways to do this is to dedicate each drawer to one type of clothing, so you know exactly which one to open to get what you need. For example, one could be jeans while another is polo shirts.
Consider Also Dividing Clothes By Function
Another great way to divide your clothes is by their function. There are really two main ways to do this. You can put items together that go as a set or you can put like items with like items.
For the first way–putting items together as a set–you could have one drawer set aside which contains dress shirts, dress pants and dress socks all arranged together, while another has your TV shirts and blue jeans for the weekends.
Alternatively, you can arrange items by function in the sense that each drawer has a certain type of item. For example, one drawer could be nothing but socks and underwear, while the drawer beneath it could be nothing but basketball shorts and sweatpants. In this way, you are still dividing by function, but you’re prioritizing what aspect of that function you focus on individually.
Arrange Your Clothes Practically
Don’t fall into the trap where you’re so focused on making everything look perfect that you ignore the practical implications of where you put your clothes. You should arrange them in a way in which they will be convenient to get to each morning.
If there is a certain set of outfits you know you’re going to use the most, you should place them in the drawer that is most immediately accessible to you in the morning.
Also remember, just because you arrange things practically doesn’t mean they have to look bad. By placing items in approximation to other items they go with, you can actually give each drawer its own sort of theme.
Take Advantage of Dividers/Organizers for Smaller Items
You can use drawer dividers and organizers to help maintain a separation between different types of clothing and items.
These are especially good at keeping smaller garments like underwear and socks from awkwardly merging into one another.
Furthermore, if your dresser has smaller drawers on top for jewelry or miscellaneous items, using small dividers can help you avoid the common experience of having to dig through random knick-knacks till you find what you’re looking for.
If you’ve already assessed what things need to go into your dresser, you should be able to determine roughly how many organizers you will need. Just arrange them in a way that makes sense and voila, a once disorganized drawer of small items will look pristine.
Store Bulky Clothes in Your Closet
Bulky clothes include everything from thick suit jackets to hoodies. If you have a lot of these kinds of items, it’s unreasonable to expect them to fit nearly with a bunch of other clothes, in just a couple of dresser drawers.
Instead of wasting your time trying to cram all of these into the bottom drawer, you’re better off hanging them in your closet or otherwise storing them somewhere else.
In the closet, you’ll be able to organize them in a way that makes sense for their size, plus you’ll free up room to really arrange the rest of your clothes properly.
Use the Bottom Drawer for Additional Storage
This tip really only applies if you don’t have any other space for your seasonal clothes that make your drawer seem overstuffed.
Until you can clear up some space in a closet or get a large tote to put the clothes in, you should dedicate the bottom drawer to your additional storage. In doing this you will ensure your extra clothes don’t make it impossible to neatly organize the clothes you are likely to wear.
Make Sure You Know How to Properly Fold Clothes
It’s okay to admit it. Many people don’t know the proper way of folding clothes. While you will probably use a less conventional way of folding them to save space, it’s good to know the fundamentals so you can save time and make putting away your clothes properly easier on yourself.
Also, remember that getting good at folding clothes is something that takes a bit of time and practice. The more time you can spend practicing folding clothes, the faster you can get your clothes put away properly.
Check out my Small Space Organizing YouTube channel, Fast File Folding Guide, or Space Saving Rolls Guide to learn to fold like a pro in no time.
Think About the Placement of Your Clothes
There are a number of different ways you can save space simply in the way you chose to put your clothes in your drawers. The best way for you will largely be determined by how much space you have, what kind of clothes you’re storing, and what you find the most aesthetically pleasing.
Below we’ve listed four of the best methods for placing and organizing your clothes within your dresser drawers:
- Rolled up: Rolling up clothes is a great way to fill empty space and make your drawers look more orderly at the same time. To do this, you simply need to fold the clothes lengthwise, start from the top and tightly roll them together. With some clothes you should be able to stack multiple and put them all in one roll.
- Stacked vertically: We would recommend you use this method to store most of your clothing, as it is the option that saves the most space. In this method you carefully fold up the clothes and line them up the way you would books on a bookshelf.
- Stacked horizontally:This tends to work best with medium to small clothes that can be easily folded. If you only have a few of a certain garment, you can put them in a near stack like this to fill empty space in a loosely packed drawer. This isn’t the best option for saving space however. So use it sparingly on items where you have a low enough number for it to make sense.
- A combination: Of course you can feel free to combine these ideas for a drawer that has multiple items. Maybe you will have a small vertical stack of white pajama shorts on one side, rolled up underwear in the middle and vertically folded white T-shirts on the other end. The possibilities are endless.
Consider this a great alternative if you want to distinguish between multiple types and sizes of clothing but you don’t have any dividers or organizers.
Store Items You Don’t Use Elsewhere
If you’re thinking “I can’t fit all my clothes in my drawer if I do one drawer per type,” there are a couple of extra actions you can take. One would be to plan to use the dividers we mentioned in one of the previous sections, while another would be to rotate your clothes seasonally and get rid of anything you don’t use.
If you only put in the clothes you will be wearing this season and store the others somewhere else, you will both give yourself an excuse to reorganize every thug multiple times a year and you’ll create a much more elegant-looking space.
Try Using Bookends to Fill Loose Drawers
Most of the tips we’ve given have had to do with what actions you should take when you’re trying to fit a lot of clothes into a few drawers. Still, sometimes you end up with those one or two odd drawers that have some empty space in them. If you’ve been stacking your clothes vertically, you may find that they can’t stand up on their own because of the extra space.
A great way to get around this is to take two shoe boxes and bookend the clothes in place. Of course, if you have space but not quite enough for the shoeboxes to fill, you can use something else. The organizer/dividers we discussed previously will work great, as will any small plastic box or box-shaped object.
Consider Labelling Your Drawers for Easy Use
This one is kind of a 50-50 over whether or not people like it. If you’re really on an organizational kick, you can consider getting some stencils and labeling each of your drawers so you know exactly what’s inside without even having to open them.
This is also a great way to create an incentive to maintain your drawers. Anytime you’re about to put something in the wrong place, you can look at the name printed on the front of the drawer and remind yourself that you want a dresser that is organized.
Ensure Everything on Your Drawer’s Surface Serves a Purpose
An easy habit to find yourself falling into is to begin stacking things on top of your drawers instead of putting them where they go. It starts with a few books and in a month you’re practically using your drawers as a bookshelf. Don’t feel bad. We’ve all been there. Well most of us at least.
Whatever it is that tends to get stored on top of your drawer, you want to establish a way of avoiding it happening in the future. The best way to do this is to commit to having everything that goes on top of the drawer have a purpose for being there.
In this way, you can still add decorative items or anything else you feel actually goes well there. In turn, you can avoid the trap of your drawer top becoming a storage place for miscellaneous items.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Extra Drawer Space for Fun
If you’ve put in all the clothes you’ve got but you still have a drawer free, or a significant amount of space still left in one you’re using, feel free to use your creativity and store something else in there as well.
While you don’t want to overload a drawer with something that doesn’t really fit inside it, it’s fine to put something inside that might not be as typical as your clothes. For instance, you could use an empty bottom drawer to store a couple of small plush blankets or an extra set of sheets for your bed. It’s really up to you and what you think will fit comfortably.
Incentivize Keeping Your Drawers Organized
If you’re the type of person who gets enthusiastic, organizes everything, but then slowly loses steam and lets it all come undone again, until your next burst of energy, this tip is for you. Instead of just telling yourself you’re going to maintain your dresser drawers, you need to work in incentives that will keep you going until it becomes a habit.
Some of these incentives are psychological, like labeling the drawers so you feel compelled to put things in the right spot or putting in clear boundaries where things go so they look way out of place otherwise.
Other incentives, however, can be rewarding yourself for maintaining it for a certain amount of time. Maybe you could buy a new piece of clothing you otherwise wouldn’t if you keep everything in the right place for a month.
Organization isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone, so don’t feel bad if you need a little boost to get yourself started.
So Really, How Do You Organize Dresser Drawers?
Remember, there is no one best way to organize your dresser drawers. There are just too many variables in the types of drawers people have, their own preferences, and how many clothes they need to store inside them. Instead of looking for one perfect formula, therefore, you should just follow a few rules of thumb.
The most important aspect of organizing your dresser drawers is making sure that you neatly divide up your clothes in some way (whether by type, size, or function) that makes sense to you and is clear to see. You want to maintain a dresser where everything has a proper spot to go into and it’s relatively easy to put it there. If you accomplish that your drawers will stay on top!
Of course, if you need some help, I got you covered with my complete guide to folding clothes if you want a little support through the process.