How to Open a Stuck Drawer

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We've all been there — whether it's stuffed with too many T-shirts or has simply seen better days, every household has struggled with a stuck drawer and the frustration of trying to get it open. But, with a just a few minutes, a little elbow grease and continued maintenance, any problem drawer in your home should easily dislodge and operate seamlessly. See the different ways to unstick your stuck drawer, today.

How to Open a Stuck Drawer
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Culling The Sock Herd

To keep drawers from sticking, the best offense is a good defense—a.k.a. don't overstuff! Every drawer in your home can probably use a good dose of spring cleaning. The more you jam into a drawer, the more likely you'll have trouble getting it open at a later date.

But You Have Overstuffed. So, What Now?

If there's a working drawer below the problematic one, remove it entirely and push up on the base of the stuck drawer while using your other hand to work the drawer handle. It should come loose unless there's an item inside keeping it from doing so.

If there is an errant item in the way, take a ruler or any long, flat object and slide it in the drawer, pressing down on whatever is inside. Now, jiggle the drawer. You'll dislodge the item from the drawer frame and be able to pull the drawer out.

Right Those Wrong Rails

Sometimes, it's not an object that keeps a drawer from opening. Instead, its rails may be dry or unaligned. Drawer rails can always benefit from occasional lubrication. If the mechanics are metal, soap, wax or WD-40 will do the trick to keep the drawer moving in and out smoothly. However, if they are wood, sand the rails to smooth out any imperfections then coat with varnish, wood sealant or paint to keep any moisture out before using a lubricant.

Sometimes drawer rails are out of alignment, but this, too, can be easily remedied with recessed screws, a small square tool and wood glue. With the square, make sure the rails are at a 90-degree angle toward the front of the drawer. If they aren't, straighten them and fasten with the screws. Squirt glue around the guides to secure them, then let it dry and lubricate the rails for effortless drawer movement. Wooden drawers can swell and stick due to high humidity. When there's moisture in the air, remember to turn on the air conditioning or dehumidifier. The wood will shrink, and drawers should open with greater ease. If your drawer guides are beyond repair, you can replace them altogether with new wood or metal using a screwdriver.


Michelle Nati has written DIY and home improvement articles for The Farmers’ Almanac,, and She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.

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