How to Organize and Declutter a Kitchen

By Christine Mann

Modern families really live in their kitchens, the most used and most vital room in the house.

Which of these things happen in your kitchen?

  • Cooking
  • Eating
  • Watching TV
  • Working on the computer
  • Making and receiving phone calls
  • Maintaining a calendar of family members’ events and schedules.
  • Dealing with incoming groceries and mail.
  • Collecting recycling and garbage to go out.
  • Organizing paperwork and files for a home office or small business.

The fact that the kitchen is used for so many different activities means that every square inch of the room is prime real estate, from the countertops to the cabinets to the pantry shelves to the garbage can and recycling bins. Decluttering your kitchen requires an extra dose of ruthlessness. Nothing should be kept in the kitchen that isn’t regularly used there.

declutter kitchen

How to Get Your Kitchen Organized

If there’s no room to work on your kitchen counters… If your drawers are full of outdated food, unused linens, dishes, appliances, and other things you haven’t touched in years… get ready to make over your kitchen into a space you’ll love working and playing in.

Kitchens are likely to have clutter “hot zones,” spots where a mess builds up over and over again, even though you clean it up over and over. Newly arriving mail and the papers children bring home from school are big contributors to clutter hot zones.

Check these spots often, Once a week, go through the hot spots. Throw away any trash you find, recycle old papers, and put away things that don’t belong there. It only takes five or ten minutes a week to keep your clutter hot spots from growing into an impossible mess.

Ideas for Organizing Kitchen Drawers and Cabinets

Funny, isn’t it, how plastic storage lids, grocery bags, and coffee mugs seem to breed in your kitchen cabinets? Go through these items once a year and sort through them to get rid of the ones you don’t use:

  • Plastic storage containers and lids.
  • Water bottles, plastic beverage containers, and glass jars.
  • Tea and coffee cups.
  • How much do you really use specialized utensils like electric wine bottle openers, electric carving knives, or citrus juicers?
  • Small electric appliances such as coffee grinders or mini-food processors.
  • Wedding presents, gifts, and things you inherited.

Things to let go of include chipped or broken china, mismatched cutlery, leftovers from old dishware sets, ugly things you’ve never liked (including wedding gifts), and anything you don’t use regularly or like a lot.

Dry and canned food and spices should also be checked for freshness and thrown away if they are past their expiration date.

To decide how to dispose of the things you weed out, see my article on deciding when to sell unwanted items and when to give them away.

Solutions for Kitchen Storage

1. Put Things You Use Often in the Easy-To-Reach Zone

Keep anything you use frequently in a place that doesn’t require you to bend down low or reach up high to get it out. Keeping them in this zone makes them easier to get out and put away. Use the zones up above and down below the middle area for things you don’t use as often.

Your kitchen counters are the most valuable space of all. Keep them for things you use every day. It makes sense to keep your coffee machine on the counter if you make coffee every morning. If you only use the food processor once a month, put it in a cabinet so you can use the counters for your daily actvities. It’s important to keep room on your counters for the daily jobs involved in cooking and cleaning up after meals.

2. Store Things Close to the Point of Use

Look around your kitchen and make a mental sketch of where you eat, cook, and clean up. Are the things you use to do these everyday jobs located where you can get to them in a step or two? Do you have to walk from one end of the kitchen to the other to get the things you need to your work areas?

If you haven’t already done this, you can save yourself a lot of steps by moving kitchen tools and supplies as close as possible to the spots where you use them. Here’s how to store many commonly used tools and supplies:

What to Keep Near the Stove

    • Pots and pans. If you cook often, consider hanging them on the walls or ceiling.

 

    • Cooking utensils such as spatulas or wooden spoons. Stand these up in a holder on the counter top, so you can just reach in and grab the one you want. You can buy these at kitchen stores or use a wine cooler or low vase with a wide mouth.

 

  • Spices. Store these in a shallow drawer, if possible. Keep them in their original boxes. (Never waste time and effort transferring spices out of their original containers.) A spice drawer allows you to see all the spice labels at a glance and quickly find the one you’re looking for. One of the worst places to store spices is right above the stove, where they get overheated and quickly lose their freshness.

What to Keep Between Dishwasher and Dining Table

    • China, glasses, silverware, and utensils should be kept between the table (where they are used) and the sink/dishwasher area (where they get cleaned.) Mugs and tea cups should be kept near the tea kettle or coffee maker.

 

  • It’s also helpful to keep dry cereal near the dining table so people can eat breakfast or snack without interfering with someone cooking in the kitchen.

What to Keep In the Stove-Sink-Refrigerator Work Triangle

    • Canned and dried foods. Keep these in cabinets or drawers as close as possible to the food preparation area. If you have more than one of the same types of can or container, store them right behind each other so the one in front is the same as all the ones behind it. If your kitchen cabinets are so deep you can’t see what’s in the back, put an empty box at the back of the cabinet to prevent things from sliding back out of sight.
    • Cutting boards, cookie sheets, cake pans, or cooling racks. These take up less space if you stand them up on their sides and store them vertically in a kitchen storage cabinet. If you have a narrow cabinet, that’s best. You can also buy “bookedn” inserts for bigger cabinets. You screw them into the bottom shelf to make vertical storage for items like these. Remove a shelf if necessary to create a vertical storage spot.
    • Small electric appliances and flour and sugar holders. If your counter space is limited, store them in lower cupboards and lift them to the countertop only when you need them.
    • Cups and mugs. Store these near where you use them — probably the kettle or coffee machine.
  • Compost pail. If you are able to compost or your garbage company collects green waste, composting dramatically cuts down on your garbage and disposer use.

Kitchen Storage Ideas for Small Children

    • Set aside a cupboard or drawer for your children. Store unbreakable plates, cups, and utensils for small children in a lower drawer so they can get things out for themselves. Small children also love having a play cupboard with wooden spoons and pots and pans they can play with while you cook or clean up.
  • Lock up dangerous or valuable items. Be sure to put child proof locks on kitchen cabinets with anything poisonous or breakable in them.

Learn how to get rid of the clutter and keep it from coming back at Declutter Source [http://www.decluttersource.com/]. Discover a leading professional organizer’s decluttering secrets for your kitchen, doing a closet makeover [http://www.decluttersource.com/closet-makeover-declutter-wardrobe-and-accessories/] for your bedroom closets, and organizing garage, files and papers, and much more.

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