How to Retrieve Something Stuck Behind a Drawer {3 Methods}

I recently discovered that my dresser drawers don’t come out. They’re bolted to the track. And there’s a slab of wood between each drawer. That makes it hard to fish out stuck behind a drawer. But I found a way.

Open drawer in dresser

Why Is it So Hard?

Manufacturers bolt drawers to their tracks to prevent them falling out and hurting someone. Which is a good thing. But it has a side effect you’re much more likely to encounter.

When something gets stuck behind the drawer, it won’t just fall into the next drawer, thanks to that slab of wood. Don’t ask me why they put the slab of wood in.

But when you can’t remove a drawer, and a slab of wood prevents stuck objects from falling into the next drawer to be retrieved, you’ve got a puzzle on your hands.

And even if you decide you don’t care about getting the object back, it will probably stop the drawer from closing. So that’s still a problem.

That was the case for me: I would rather have just lost the item than bother trying to get it back. But the drawer wouldn’t close properly anymore.

First Things to Try

First, don’t assume your drawer won’t come out just because it stops when you pull on it. Some furniture has a better design than mine.

In some models, you can keep gently pulling the drawer after it stops and it will release and come out. Others have a catch on the side (but you may not be able to reach it). See this video if that applies to your drawer.

If either of these options are true of your drawer, you’ll be able to pull it out. Then you can retrieve the item and put the drawer back where it belongs.

My drawers aren’t like that, however. As far as I can tell, there’s something bolting them in from the back, because this is all I see when I pull it out as far as it will go.

Open drawer in dresser

Absolutely nothing to work with there. Neither of these options worked for me, so it looked like my only choice was to remove the wood panel on the back of the dresser, pull out the stuck item, and reattach the back panel.

But my dresser is heavy. Ridiculously heavy. I used to move furniture around all the time, rearranging my room for fun, but this thing? Just trying to push this thing away from the wall is a serious job.

Spatula Method for Getting Item Behind Drawer

I tied a piece of ribbon (or string) to a stick (in hindsight, I think a spatula would have worked even better, though). Now, you’re basically only going to use the stick.

So why the ribbon? That’s for pulling the stick out if it too gets stuck behind the drawer. The whole time I was working, I kept the ribbon in one hand so I could pull the stick out if I lost hold of it.

With the other hand I put the stick in behind the drawer and fished around for the item. I was able to get the stick wedged under the item and pop it up over the back of the drawer so it landed in the drawer.

Then I had the item back, the drawer would close properly and all was well. Easy-peasy, really.

But what if the item had been something glad that I couldn’t maneuver the stick under? This is why next time I would use a spatula, just in case. Just a plain ol’ rubber spatula.


This was a quick, simple solution. If it doesn’t work, then you will have to take off the back of the dresser. It’s generally not as hard as you think, though.

Removing the Dresser Back to Get the Item

For this method, you’ll probably need a screwdriver.

Take a look at the back panel of the dresser to see how it is attached. Different dressers may have different mechanisms for holding the back panel on. It will probably be a few screws, or possibly some nails or staples.

If it’s screws, your job is pretty simple. Just remove the screws or nails, pull the backing off, and get the object. If your backing is flexible thin wood, you may even be able to get by with just removing a couple of screws near the drawer with the stuck item and reaching in with your hand or a stick to pop the item out.

If it’s staples, your job just got more complicated. You’re going to need a way to re-staple the dresser backing when you’re done.

If you’ve got a staple gun for furniture, great. Otherwise, look at the possibility of screwing or nailing it back in instead of stapling.

To remove the staple, you’ll need some kind of staple remover. But you can probably use a Phillips head screwdriver to pry it out and bend the side until they come free.

Once the back panel is pulled off, you’ll have clear access to the area behind the drawer. Reach in and retrieve the object that fell behind the drawer.

Put the backing back on the way it was before you removed it. You’ll have to use your own judgment here, but it’s generally straightforward.