How to organize a dresser — 10 ways to get your drawers in order

Learn how to organize a dresser to keep bedroom essentials neat, tidy and close to hand

Three images of organized dressers. Left and right one are open drawers with folding clothes with two dividers middle one is view of walk in closet
(Image credit: Martin Vecchio, Avery Cox Design/Lindsay Brown,)

Familiarizing yourself with how to organize a dresser is well worth the effort. From clothes to cosmetics, bras to belts, they’re expected to hold an awful lot of ‘stuff’, and drawers can quickly descend into chaos without an efficient system in place. 

We’ve quizzed professional organizers on their top tried-and-true hacks for achieving orderly dresser drawers that look neat and (with a little upkeep) stay that way, too. 

It can be hard to know where to start when deciding how to organize a bedroom, but a dresser should a priority. As somewhere you access every day, savvy storage, effective organizers and simple systems are the key to smooth mornings.

How to organize a dresser like a pro

Removing everything from your dresser before you start organizing is one of the best bedroom organization tips we can offer. Not only does this give you a clear idea of what you have, but also of the space you’ve got to work with. 

Take the opportunity to measure your drawers so you have dimensions to hand for divider shopping. Since they're empty, give them a good clean.

1. Decide what you want to keep

In the same way you would when decluttering a wardrobe, gather every item of clothing you plan to store in your dresser — including those in the laundry basket. 

Work through each item one by one, and decide what you want to keep. Decluttering clothes can be an emotional process, but it’s important you’re strict with yourself. 

"Go through each item and inspect it thoroughly," says says Chicago-based home organizer Jessica Litman, founder of The Organized Mama. 

Ask yourself: does it fit? Is it in good condition? Have you worn it in the last year?

"If the answer is no to any of these, it’s probably time to say goodbye," Jessica adds. "Be really honest with yourself, there’s nothing worse than wearing clothes that don’t make you feel good anymore."

Founder of The Organized Mama, Jessica Litman
Jessica Litman

Family organizing expert Jessica Litman, also known as 'The Organized Mama', encourages families to get on board with organizing by incorporating fun and easy habits into their day, leaving more time to enjoy happy moments together. 

2. Group items into categories

white drawer unit showing open drawer with three rows of clothing separated by drawer dividers, file fold method displayed on tops

(Image credit: Neat Method/Martin Vecchio)

When organizing a closet or dresser that’s home to a varied array of items, categorizing makes it so much easier to find what you’re looking for. 

A popular method is to organize clothes by garment type; shirts together, pants together and so on. Alternatives include by season, or by purpose, including: work, casual, and office for example. 

Drawer dividers such as the set of two Bamboo Expandable Drawer Dividers from Brightroom™ at Target come in handy. If you use your dresser for storing more than just clothes, consider grouping items by function: make-up, skincare, jewelry, and accessories, and using drawer baskets to keep things in order (we like the Mainstays set of five flexible storage organizers from Walmart).

If you’re incorporating your makeup or skincare stash into (or on top of) your dresser, consider investing in a lazy Susan. This mDesign Spinning Lazy Susan Makeup Turntable Storage Center available at Amazon, has five high-sided compartments so you can keep cosmetics neatly categorized. 

3. Plan where to put things

When organizing a dresser, think about which items you use most regularly and in what order you use them. Fill top drawers with those you use first and work your way down, with bulkier clothing such as jumpers and jeans stored at the bottom. 

Ideally, you’d assign a single category to each drawer, but if you’re limited on space, it’s fine to combine. To make it as efficient as possible, think about items that sit well alongside each other, or that you tend to use or put on at the same time. Jewelry and makeup, underwear and socks, for example. 

"Take the shape and size of your drawers into account, too," says Emily Lambe, Deputy Editor, Real Homes. "Shallow drawers lined with dividers or caddies are practical for organizing smaller items, such as skincare and accessories, while deep drawers are better suited to storing neatly stacked clothes. Use the BAMEOS expandable bamboo drawer dividers to keep items in place."

Emily Lambe
Emily Lambe

Emily is deputy digital editor at Real Homes, bringing the latest decor trends, inspirational ideas, and the best budget-friendly buys. She lives in a rented apartment, making the most of small spaces and using accent pieces to make things pop. 

4. Store bulky clothing elsewhere

Green tiled walk-in closet with boots, hat and bird ornament

(Image credit: Avery Cox Design/Lindsay Brown)

Bulky items (such as denim jeans or woolen jumpers) tend not to do well stored in a dresser. The fabrics don’t breathe well and they take up too much, plus they’re hard to get in and out. Hang them up using slim or spacesaving hangers (we recommend the Magic Pants multi-layer hangers from Amazon) or or fold them neatly on shelves as part of organizing a closet, to free up space for smaller, more drawer-friendly items, such as t-shirts, gym gear or pajamas. 

These Scentennials Store lavender scented drawer liners, available at Amazon, can help to keep clothes smelling fresh, but avoid using any type in drawers dedicated to delicates as the oils can stain. 

5. Find the right fold

Rifling through layer after layer to find what you need will soon results in neatly folded piles of exploding into mess, stopping dreams of a beautifully organized dresser in its tracks.

“If you only do one thing to organize your dresser, file fold”, say Ashley Murphy and Marissa Hagmeyer, co-founders of NEAT method. “File folding is the practice of folding your clothing to the height of your dresser drawer, then arranging them in upright rows. This not only saves you space, but allows you to see everything you have at a glance”. 

Neat Method's founders, Ashley Murphy and Marissa Hagmeyer
Ashley Murphy and Marissa Hagmeyer

Ashley Murphy and Marissa Hagmeyer are the organization-obsessed co-founders behind NEAT Method. NEAT takes clients' homes from chaotic to composed, with their team of expert organizers creating beautiful, sustainable systems based on their clients' needs and lifestyles, with personalized shopping lists and step-by-step instructions.

6. Arrange clothing by color

For an organizational approach as pretty as it is practical, Ashley and Marissa advise arranging your file folded clothes by color. 

“This makes it even easier to locate specific pieces. Not only that, but it elevates the overall aesthetic of the dresser contents and identifies where you may own unnecessary excess”, they say. 

This technique is well worth bearing in mind when organizing a walk-in closet, or if you use open bedroom storage ideas, such as a clothing rack. It makes for a much more coordinated feel, particularly if you color-match your hangers. 

The Lomani colored steel non-slip clothes hangers from Amazon come in a variety of pretty pastel shades and are durable, making them worth the small outlay.

7. Divide things up

Neatly organized drawers with expandable wooden inserts to keep items separated

(Image credit: Neat Method/Martin Vecchio)

They may start off neat and tidy, but clothes can quickly become jumbled when organizing a dresser. Using dividers (such as the multipurpose drawer dividers from Wayfair) to compartmentalize larger clothing categories helps keep things in order, plus you can arrange items with efficiency in mind — lesser-used items towards the back of the drawer, frequently used towards the front. 

“Using drawer dividers can also help with creating space limits”, says professional organizer Michelle Urban, founder of The Organized House. “A space limit is when you dedicate a specific area for your things, and once that area fills up, it's time to purge and eliminate. It’s a great technique for avoiding clutter and helps to maximize space in a small bedroom."

Professional organizer Michelle Urban, founder of The Organized House
Michelle Urban

As a professional home organizer, Michelle Urban knows how hectic life can get. With years of experience as a working mom, wife, and owner of 'The Organized House', she offers advice and guidance on decluttering homes and restoring harmony in living spaces.  

Expandable versions with rounded edges, like the OXO good grips drawer dividers from Bed Bath and Beyond are best when organizing clothes, particularly those prone to snagging. 

8. Employ the best organizers

Jewelry drawer in vanity area of walk-in closet

(Image credit: Michelle Berwick Design/Mike Chajecki)

As well as dividers, there’s a vast array of item-specific bedroom organizers out there that can help to keep dresser drawers neat, tidy and well-ordered, so think about what you’re storing and invest in the best ones for your purposes and needs. 

Sectioned organizers such as the Poeland honeycomb divider, available on Amazon, are great for containing smaller garments or socks and undies, as well as smaller accessories such as ties and belts. 

For deeper drawers, consider investing in versatile stackable storage such as the CHANCETSUI Stackable drawer organizer set, also from Amazon. It comes with 11 storage bins of different shapes and sizes. 

9. Use boxes and bins to corral smaller items

Corralling smaller, more light-weight garments into containers is a clever clothes storage idea, particularly in lower-down dresser drawers, as you can pull whole categories out and have a proper look without having to crouch down. 

Clear boxes and bins (such as this set of clear acrylic drawer organizers from The Container Store) are ideal as you can see what’s where (and they’re easy to clean, handy if you’re using them to store makeup), but if you’d prefer to use fabric, woven or lidded versions that’s fine too – just be sure to label them clearly. 

Always measure your drawer carefully beforehand; these Brightroom drawer organizers from Target come in a variety of shapes sizes so you can create a bespoke storage system to fit your space.

10. Clear clutter off the top

It’s hard to relax in a cluttered space, so you’ll need to keep surfaces clear if you want to create a calm feel in your bedroom — including your dresser top. That doesn’t mean you can’t utilize the space, though. The trick is to store in style.  

“The top of a dresser is an ideal spot for jewelry storage ideas or stashing makeup. Consider a stylish box or a pretty trinket tray to keep go-to pieces at the ready”, says professional organizer Britnee Tanner. Our pro guide on how to organize jewelry delves in further.

Professional organizer Britnee Tanner
Britnee Tanner

Britnee helps other busy women create beautiful, functional spaces in their own homes. Her purpose is to help women (who have a lot going on in their day), simplify their homes and make them intentional and enjoyable. 

To avoid clutter building up, reserve on-show surface space for items you use everyday and stow lesser-used pieces out of sight. If you’re storing multiple items, clear, stackable containers make it easy to find what you need quickly. We like this simple four-drawer stackable set from Walmart


Which clothes go in which drawers?

To help your routine flow smoothly, experts advise ‘zoning’ a dresser, in the same way you would when organizing a vanity. Consider your getting ready routine, and assign your everyday essentials prime position (this is usually the top drawer for most, but it’s up to you), then work down from there according to the order in which you get dressed. 

Consider the size and shape of drawers, too. A deep drawer is better suited to clothing, while a narrow or small drawer is useful for storing underwear or smaller accessories, for example. 

The benefits of organizing a dresser so it’s well-ordered go beyond enjoying the aesthetic of a neat and tidy space. It also enables you to pick the perfect outfit quickly and easily, making for a relaxed and enjoyable start to the day, rather than a stressful one. Now you're in the zone up, our pros have revealed the five things organizing experts never do in small bedrooms

After the arrival of her second son – and subsequent departure of any free time outside of his unpredictable nap schedule (!) – seasoned writer Tara King decided to move on from her position as a Content Editor and enter the exciting world of freelance, covering interior design, DIY and lifestyle. Alongside features for, Tara writes for Ideal Home, Style at Home, Country Homes & Interiors and other interiors publications. When she’s not working or ‘mumming’, she can be found (hiding) in the garden, attempting DIY projects… with varying levels of success!

With contributions from