Give New Life to Your Kitchen: Organize and Declutter
Ahh the kitchen...most of us use it every day. It gets messy and we clean it only for it to be messy a couple of hours later. A kitchen is a magical place and for many, it can be the heart of the home. Is your kitchen filled with things you should have gotten rid of ages ago? Could your kitchen be more organized? Could preparing meals be simpler? We’re here to give you some tips on how to declutter and bring new life to your kitchen!
Drawers, Cabinets, and Counters
We are going to start with your counters and cabinets. You can skip your pantry or cabinets that solely house food for now (we will get to that later.) We suggest doing this type of deep clean at least once a year, but every 6 months would be ideal.
Pull everything out: this may seem to be counterproductive, but you have to know what you are working with. Empty your cabinets and drawers and separate everything into piles on the counter. If you don’t have enough counter space to do it all at once, start with one section at a time.
Inspect: now that you have everything out and you can see it, check all the items to make sure:
- they are clean - if the item has gathered a lot of dust, wipe it clean or set it aside to be washed. This includes dish towels, oven mitts, and cloth napkins.
- they are in good condition - if an item is cracked, chipped or broken toss it out.
- they are actually being used - did your in-laws give you a salad spinner you never took out of the box? Do you have a crepe pan you used twice before realizing you were better off going out for brunch? If you have items that are not being used, donate them. Chances are if you haven’t used it in the last year you aren’t going to use it in the next year.
Declutter: now that broken and unused items are out of the way, it’s time to jump into the decluttering. If an item is older and worn but still usable, or you have duplicates consider donating it.
- Check over your dish towels, cloth napkins, and oven mitts. Discard the ones that are old, dingy or have holes in them. Tip: you can also keep these towels for rags. Store them in a container under your sink for easy clean up without ruining your dish towels. Pick up new dishtowels and oven mitts here.
- Check tupperware and make sure everything has a lid that fits. Toss out or donate any extra lids or lidless containers.
- Sort through your mugs. Most of us have a bunch of random mugs we never use. Donate any mugs you don’t use regularly.
- Look through your cookbooks, if you have them, and donate any you no longer use. If you have magazines in your collection, rip the recipes out and place them in a binder for easy access. If you have loose recipes, consider writing them on 3x5 cards and storing them in a recipe box.
- Check all of your kitchen gadgets to make sure they work properly. Discard any that do not and donate any you no longer use.
Clean: your drawers and cabinets are empty and it's the perfect time to clean them. Wipe out all the cabinets and remove drawers to dump any crumbs or debris. Wash any drawer inserts.
Organize: now that you only have what you need and use it’s time to get organized. Look around your kitchen and decide what makes the most sense to you. Often people like to keep cookware close the stove and knives near where you plan to prep food. Nest things like mixing bowls and cookware to maximize your space. If you aren’t already using drawer inserts for your silverware and utensils, get some. Here are 25 tips on keeping your kitchen more organized.
Clear your counters: now that everything is back where it belongs, look at your counters. Are small appliances taking up a lot of space? If you have room in your cabinets, consider storing small appliances away and taking them out only when you need them. Things like toaster ovens, blenders, mixers and coffee makers may be cluttering your counter. If you have spices cluttering your counter, consider a spice rack or storing spices in a cabinet near the stove.
One last cleaning: your counters have been cleared and it’s time for one last cleaning. Remove everything you plan to keep on the counters and give them a good wipe down. Wipe down your sick and cabinet fronts as well as any large appliances.
We are going to clean your food storage similarly to our counters and cabinets. The places you store food should be maintained more often than your regular cabinets because spoiled food can make you sick. We suggest doing your pantry and nonperishable food cabinets at least once and month and your fridge and freezer every time you go grocery shopping.
Pantry/Food Storage Cabinets:
- Pull out everything and inspect: Check expiration dates and toss anything that is expired. If you have foods that are going to expire soon, separate them out and make a plan to use them before they go bad. If you find foods that are not expired, but will not be eaten by your family, donate them. Be sure to check with your local food bank to get a full list of the items they accept.
- Wipe down the shelves: Pantries and food cabinets tend to get dusty. Wipe down all the shelves and wipe down cans if they have collected dust.
- Organize: instead of just placing everything back on the shelf, organize according to usage. We suggest keeping similar items near each other and placing backups behind each other for easy access. Consider getting storage bins for bulk items and sorting snacks out so they are easy to get to. Separate your spices into sweet and savory and label any unlabeled items. Here are some awesome pantry storage ideas.
- Inspect: check all your food and toss out anything expired. One of the most important things to check is sauces and condiments. We often don’t realize these items have expired and can get very sick from eating them. Make a grocery list of the items you need to buy.
- Clean: wipe down the inside of the fridge and the freezer shelves. Pull out vegetable drawers and clean those as well.
- Organize sort your fridge and freezer, however, makes the most sense to you, but keep like items together and always keep thawing meats on the bottom shelf of your fridge to avoid contaminating other foods. You can find some tips for organizing your fridge here and check out this article on where to store fruits and veggies.
Now that the bulk of your kitchen has been cleaned, organized and decluttered, let’s do a few little things to tidy the place up.
Junk Drawer: if you have a junk drawer, pull everything out and toss anything that’s broken or you don’t use. Make sure you have all the necessities and consider using storage trays to organize.
Under the sink: check under your sink (or wherever you keep your cleaning supplies, garbage bags, and dishwasher pods) make sure nothing has spilled and wipe off any dusty items. We suggest not storing cleaning supplies directly on the shelf. Consider using storage baskets in case of a leak. Make sure you have everything you need and put backups on your shopping list.
Appliances: clean out all of your appliances including your stove, dishwasher, and microwave.
Get Organized and Stay Organized
Your kitchen is looking amazing. You’ve decluttered and cleaned and now you want to keep it this way. Here’s a few tips and tricks, some of which we mentioned before to keep you organized and make things in the kitchen go smoother.
Plan meals ahead of time: planning meals ahead of time is a huge time saver. Pick a day every week to do the bulk of your grocery shopping (tip: most grocery stores are relatively empty on Friday evenings) prior to going shopping map out all the meals you want to make and make a list of all the ingredients needed for each one. This will be the base for your shopping list. By planning all your meals ahead of time you will be less tempted to get takeout and you won’t have to come up with meals on the spot. We suggest getting a little menu board to write them down on.
Get a whiteboard for the fridge: utilizing a whiteboard in your kitchen is a great idea. It can be a place to add grocery items, write down bill due dates or leave notes for the family.
We hope these tips and tricks have helped you create a more organized kitchen. If you have any tips or tricks you want to share, be sure to leave them in the comments below!