Kitchens are the heart of the home. They’re the hub for homework, hosting and meal time. All this activity means kitchens attract A LOT of clutter.
If your kitchen needs a reset, keep reading for pro tips on how to declutter your kitchen once and for all.
- 5 Action Steps to Declutter the Kitchen
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Why Should I Declutter My Kitchen?
Why should you even declutter your kitchen? Well, simplifying your kitchen will help you be more present for all those special moments that happen in the heart of the home. It will also make cooking, cleaning and meal time so much easier.
The path to simplifying is knowing how you use your kitchen. With that in mind, here are a few questions to answer:
- Who does the cooking?
- Is that person left or right handed?
- How do you primarily use the kitchen?
- What’s functioning well and what isn’t?
- What are your goals for the kitchen?
Use your answers as a filter to help you decide what to keep or get rid of as you declutter.
How to Clear the Kitchen Clutter
The idea of decluttering a kitchen can seem overwhelming. Rightfully so. The kitchen is one of the largest and hardest to organize spaces in anyone’s home. With that in mind, I recommend setting aside a block of uninterrupted time and breaking the project down into simple action steps, one area at a time.
5 Action Steps to Declutter the Kitchen
I like to divide the kitchen into five main areas: Drawers, Countertops, Sink, Cabinets and Pantry, and then approach them in that order. Starting with the simpler areas first will help you build confidence and momentum as you declutter your kitchen.
You could either work on an area each day for a week, set aside a couple of full work days or make it a weekend project.
Step 1 – Decluttering Kitchen Drawers
We’re all guilty of shoving stuff into drawers, any drawer. So, they can easily get overcrowded with miscellaneous items, junk, and extra kitchen tools and gadgets.
Keep your goals in mind as you consider what gadgets, measuring cups, and utensils to keep. The reality is we only use some of what we have. The rest just sits their taking up space. So, toss or donate anything you don’t actually use.
Some kitchen tools you may consider getting rid of include:
- garlic press or other specialty gadgets – most of the time there are other, simpler ways to chop garlic, squeeze a lemon or spiral vegetables. So, unless you regularly use the gadgets you have, go ahead and donate them.
- loose items – meaning things like straws, toothpicks or plasticware that have fallen out of the packaging.
- forgotten condiments – like the packets of ketchup and sauces we save but never use. Those can go.
- junk – forgotten notes, loose change, old batteries, random tools, photos, invitations….all those things can be organized in a way that better serves you.
- extras – if you have duplicates of items and don’t use them, these make great donations.
Step 2 – Declutter Kitchen Countertops
Kitchen counters tend to be a catchall as we come and go throughout the day. So, chances are there are items taking up space on your kitchen counters that don’t belong.
To get started, go ahead and clear everything off the counters. As you sort through what to put back, consider creating what I call convenience zones. These are the spaces for items that get regular use throughout the day. I recommend leaving space for:
- Cooking utensils – you can hang them above the stove, place them in a container on the countertop next to the stove, or organize them in drawers
- Hot beverage station – if your household drinks coffee or hot tea, determine the best place to set out the coffee maker and accompanying condiments.
- Cookbooks or tablet – place your most used cookbooks near the stove, either in a basket, between bookends or on an easel.
- Cereal – you can include cereal canisters as a part of a breakfast bar/station
- Fruit – you might like to keep a bowl of fruit on the island or with your breakfast bar
- Flour – pour flour into a container and place it in your designated baking zone
- Sugar – sugar is another dry good that works well in a baking zone
- Olive oil – decant your olive oil and place it on a tray or lazy susan next to the stove .
- Salt & Pepper – you can set salt and pepper shakers with the olive oil
I don’t bake or even use flour or sugar that much so those aren’t on my countertop. I share that to say keep in mind what you use and reach for on a daily basis to determine what you want on your countertops.
Step 3 – Declutter the Kitchen Sink
It’s easy for clutter to pile up next to the faucet and especially under the sink. Check those areas and toss:
- expired cleaners
- worn out cleaning rags
- dirty sponges
- packaging – empty bulky items into storage containers to save space and reduce visual clutter
- misplaced items – these are any items you determine don’t belong under the kitchen sink
- excess plastic bags – if you have more plastic bags than you’ll ever need, or if they’ve taken over your space, recycle as many as you can and leave just enough for use.
- broken items – like soap bottles that no longer work, cleaning tools that no longer work or have lost effectiveness
Be sure to clean any soap build up from the countertops as well to reduce visual clutter. You can also use a tray or container to corral dish soap and sponges.
Step 4 – Declutter Kitchen Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets are like the workhorse of the kitchen, storing everything from everyday dishes, to food storage containers, to food prep items, to pots and pans. And much more. so it stands to reason that our cabinets get stuffed to overflowing, with items toppling over every time we reach in to get something.
To organize your kitchen cabinets, I recommend wither tackling a cabinet a day or spending an afternoon going through all the cabinets. Whichever method works for you, get rid of:
- any chipped glasses
- broken dishes
- incomplete dish sets (if that matters to you)
- inherited pieces you don’t want
- food storage containers without lids and lids without containers
- excess mugs
- worn out pots and pans
- serving pieces you never use (Keep the items you use once or twice a year.)
Here’s a guide to help you decide how many plates and glasses you need. It’s just a guide. Base your final number on how many you use.
Step 5 – Declutter the Pantry
Much like kitchen cabinets, pantries can easily become cluttered, especially as a space everyone in the household uses. The reality is multiples and expired foods can be found in even the most organized pantries.
To get started, empty everything out of the pantry. Throw away expired food, spices, and flours. If you have extras of a particular item, consider donating some to a food pantry.
Sort everything that’s left into categories. Some common categories are:
- Canned food
- Breakfast foods
- Snack items
- Baking Ingredients
- Extra inventory/ back stock
- Dinner items
- Vinegars and Oils
- Pasta and Grains
- Kid food/Baby food
Pick and choose the categories that make the most sense for how you and your family use the pantry.
3 Ways to Keep Your Kitchen Organized
The simplest way to keep kitchen clutter away is to clear surfaces each night. This routine only takes a few minutes and goes a long way in maintaining a clutter free kitchen.
Also, be sure to establish a kitchen organizing system that suits your lifestyle and is easy to maintain. Having a place for everything means items are more likely to be put away.
If you notice clutter creeping back into your kitchen, take some time to think about why. Things to consider:
- Does this item have a home?
- Does everyone in the family know where everything goes?
- Are bins and containers clearly labeled?
- Would this item make more sense in a different drawer or cabinet?
- Am I collecting or buying items I don’t need?
- Does this item fit into our current lifestyle?
If you get overwhelmed during the decluttering process, refer back to your goals to remind yourself why you’re decluttering your kitchen. And keep in mind, simplifying and editing your kitchen will make your everyday life simpler, cut down on time in the kitchen, and ensure your kitchen is ready for special occasions, holidays and entertaining.
For more decluttering help, read:
And be sure to save this article for future reference.
My ex and children both were driven nuts by my moving where I stored everything in the kitchen. When I clean everything comes out and why not rearrange things to make it fresh? 🙂 They were good sports about it though, I am so lucky.
Emma Briggs says
Me too, I love to keep cups and glasses in the cupboard.
😉 Thanks Emma. Glad to know I’m in good company.
Lois, It’s a good thing when our families go along with our whims, isn’t it?
I was fortunate, but there was an added bonus to my OCD tendencies…now that my boys are married they are very easy going about what their wives do around their homes. When I remarked to my youngest about some changes in his home he laughed and said his wife was nesting (she was in the end stages of her first pregnancy) and said it didn’t bother him in the least because he was used to my doing things like that. Both my daughters-in-law are happy not to have to ask to make changes to their homes, oh and they also thank me for raising boys who put the seat down:-)
Your daughters-in-law are lucky, indeed. I know that I’m so glad I’m married to a man who just lets me do my thing. It wouldn’t go so well if I had to ask his opinion before I did anything. #independentstreak
Over from Hometalk … I love your organized kitchen!
Thank you! Organization is one of my favorite things.
I stopped by from visiting your home at Debbiedoo’s. Beautiful!! I would love to have a kitchen like yours….mine is like a small hallway. :/ You’re welcome to come visit anytime and organize until you can’t. 🙂 I look forward to getting to know you.
Welcome, Pat. Thank you for taking time to come visit me here at the blog. I am beyond grateful for this home and my kitchen. Never did I imagine that I’d have anything like it. I love organizing and it would be so fun to come over and organize til I couldn’t.
No can you come do mine Sharon. Seriously, I am so not organized like I use to be!
I love organizing, Debbie. I’ll be right over. 😉 (if only)
Oh Sharon I wish you would come over my house my kitchen really wants to meet you!!! Wonderful job 🙂
Mrs. Hines says
Thank you, Dria! I would love it if I could come to your house and meet your kitchen. 🙂
Hi, Where did you get the cup holders from please?
Mrs. Hines says
Hi Gail. A friend gave them to me as a housewarming gift. But I believe she ordered them from organizeit.com. I found a couple of similar options at this link: http://www.organizeit.com/under-shelf-storage-racks.asp
Barb Hudson says
When I looked at the first picture I thought the watermark with your name was “Mrs Shines Class” and loved it. It is very early in the morning here on the west coast of Canada so please excuse me, Mrs. Hines! I too am someone who wants a place for everything and everything in its place. Unfortunately, that cute guy I married (50 years in December this year) could care less and puts nothing away or if he does it will be in the most obscure place! What’s a woman to do? He says I have “over organized” I say there is no such thing. I already have some of your ideas on the go but found a few more that I will add. You have a new fan and a follower from the southern tip of Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada. Cheers …barby
Robin All Things Heart and Home says
Sharon this is perfect for me today…I’m starting a little spring cleaning in my kitchen cabinets! Thanks so much friend xo
my organizing gene seems to have gone totally defective. Cannot pinpoint when it happened but the me of today is not the me of yesteryear. Just do not seem to be able to master any juggling at all.
Mrs. Hines says
I can relate. The me of today compared to the me of yesteryear doesn’t have the energy and “get up and go” that I once had. But, for both of us, I think we can still accomplish our goals…just in smaller, simpler steps. If we lived close, I’d come help you!
Mrs. Hines says
Aw, so nice to meet you Barby! And welcome to Mrs. Hines Class. I’ve had others tell me the that they read it Mrs. Shines….that’s alright by me. I like the idea of shining. 😉
My husband also gets frustrated with my organizing. He feels just when he gets used to where I’ve put something I change it. I’ve left the kitchen as is for a long time, but am planning on making a few tweaks. I haven’t told Matt yet. LOL.
And I agree with you, there’s no such thing as over organizing. Cheers!
Amanda H. says
Could you please tell me more about your plate rack? The idea of having them out like that intrigues me. Thanks!
Mrs. Hines says
Hi Amanda. I bought the plate rack at either HomeGoods or Ross. I might even be a drying rack rather than a plate rack, but I love having the plates out to add a little color and function to the kitchen. I’m so glad you like it! Send me a picture if you decide to get one!
Mrs. Hines says
How is your Spring cleaning coming along?
Where can I find the chrome rack with drawer that you used for your mixing bowls?
Mrs. Hines says
I’ve had mine for many years, but I think I got it at either Bed, Bath and Beyond. Lowes and Home Depot also have these types of organizers. There’s also an online store called Organize It that has some similar organizers. Feel free to use my affiliate link to Organize It’s pull out baskets… http://shrsl.com/?~bf4q (no extra cost to you…) or you can browse their pull out baskets here… http://www.organizeit.com/pull-out-baskets.asp