How to Repair a Kitchen Drawer That Opens by Itself

They contain all the clutter that would otherwise litter the countertop, keeping you organized and making the room look clean and tidy when everything is snugly put away in its inner recesses. Drawers are handy and an innocuous part of daily life, sliding in and out as you maneuver through the bathroom and kitchen day and night.

Modern white kitchen
credit: Serghei Starus/iStock/GettyImages
Make sure to check a drawer's screws in order to fix it.

When a drawer won't close all the way or slides open at the most inopportune times, it can be a nuisance at the least and a safety hazard at the most. Fixing the drawer will also keep it structurally sound, eliminating the need to completely replace the parts and façade.

Investigate Why Drawers Slide Open

To get to the root of the errant opening of the drawer, you need to do a bit of investigating. Remove the drawer from the rails and cabinetry. Check for loose items that have found their way from the interior of the drawer to the tracks or rails.

When a drawer opens by itself, it's usually due to a warped housing, loose rail or other structural issue. Go over the rails on the side or beneath the drawer to find any misshapen sliders, loose screws or other problems with the housing of the cabinet.

But it can be difficult to see into the housing of the drawer. Use a flashlight and run a long, narrow bristle brush down the inside of the drawer, along the rails and siding, to look for loose items or damaged parts. Remove any objects that don't belong and pinpoint problems to be addressed.

Prep the Drawer Before Fixing

A quick cleaning of the interior cabinet and exterior of the drawer can often fix simple issues. Use a mix of 1 tablespoon of mild liquid soap and 4 cups of hot water to wipe the façade and exterior of the wayward drawer. Use a tooth brush or soft nylon brush to get into the nooks and crannies of the rails and moving parts.

Make sure to remove any grease or grimy buildup around the mechanical parts of the drawer. Crumbs of food and small broken bits of the contents of the drawer can fall into the rails, screws and wheels, creating a problem with it closing. This is a fairly effective way to quickly fix the drawer that opens by itself.

New Slides for a Drawer

If the rails are not in good shape, then they can be replaced with smooth-rolling ball bearing slides. These allow the drawer to extend fully and pull shut, and are fairly easy to install. Remove the old rails and replace them with a ½-inch gap between each side of the drawer and the cabinet box.

Magnets to Keep Drawers Closed

When a drawer simply won't stay shut, a simple fix requires a few well-placed magnets. Install kitchen drawer magnets on the inside of the drawer façade and the outer edge of the cabinetry where the lip of the drawer meets the cabinet's frame.

Adhesive-backed magnets are discreet and effective. KJ Magnetics recommends that the area where the magnets will be placed is thoroughly clean and dry before placing the stick-on tiny magnets to the surface of the inner drawer façade and cabinet.


Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.