If your kitchen is starting to look like a catchall for condiment packages, or a graveyard for unused gadgets, it’s time to declutter. Spring clean your kitchen by ditching the stuff that you don’t use or have a plan for.
It’s easy to collect many things in our kitchens—from spare twist ties to empty plastic containers. Soon, our cupboards are overflowing with gifted mugs, and our drawers all look like junk drawers. Here’s how to declutter all that stuff—big and small— so you can have a better organized and cleaner kitchen.
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From leftover soy sauce from your favorite Chinese takeout to all of that Taco Bell fire sauce, the average household harbors more condiment packets tucked in drawers and the fridge than they’ll actually use up. Before you even try to think about how long those packets of honey mustard from your chicken nuggets have been in the fridge, just toss them out. If they’re not already expired, they probably will be soon.
Of course, if you’re actually using those packets regularly, rather than throwing them away, find a way to organize them in one area. Put the refrigerated ones in a plastic cup in the door, and keep the non-chilled ones in a drawer with an organizer to make it easy to keep them contained and keep them from getting lost among the other items in the drawer.
While you’re at it, ditch the full-size containers that have been languishing on your pantry shelves and cluttering up your fridge. Kitchen storage space is too precious not to.
Whether you find yourself with a massive collection of reusable bags or you have way too many plastic grocery bags stocked up, now’s a good time to sort through those bags and let some go. As far as your reusable bags, consider using them to deliver gifts to friends, donate stuff to thrift stores, or donate the bags themselves to a local resale shop that can use them for shoppers.
When dealing with your plastic bags, you don’t want to toss them in the recycling bin. Plastic bags can jam up the recycling machines. Instead, find a local grocery store with a plastic bag bin and take them in for their recycling program.
When was the last time you used that quesadilla or omelet maker? Are you frustrated every time you have to clean the juicer or Yo Nanas, so much so that you use them once a year? Kitchen gadgets catch our eyes because they offer us an easy way to do fun things in the kitchen, but sometimes after a couple of uses, they end up ignored. If your kitchen counter is starting to look like a home goods display at the local Macy’s, it’s time to purge.
You can free up some cupboard and counter space by letting go of gadgets you never use or haven’t used in a year. If your juicer is barely used, consider donating it to a local thrift store or sell it at your next yard sale. If it has leaked since the first time you used it, toss it.
It can be “country chic” to have mismatched pieces in your kitchen, but if you’re going for a uniform look, let go of those that don’t go along. If you have vintage silverware that is actually silver, take a look at the market before giving your stuff away—you might be able to make a little money on your discards.
Whether you’re going for a mismatched vibe or streamlining, how much should you keep? As a general rule of thumb, you should have as many flatware settings as you have dinnerware settings, plus some to spare so you’re not constantly washing. If you have an 8-person service for your dining room, it’s reasonable to have 12 flatware settings on hand.
Silverware seem to breed, and so do kitchen utensils. Whether you have your utensils hanging, in a holder, or in a drawer, there’s a chance you have more than you need. If you only make soup a couple of times a year, do you need more than one ladle?
Pull all of your utensils out and weed out the doubles and triples of rarely used items. Having more than one spatula or serving spoon will come in handy when you’re cooking a large meal or serving multiple dishes, but what are the chances you’ll need multiple rolling pins?
If you’re running out of room in your cupboards because you have too many coffee mugs, perhaps you should let some of them go. Unless you’re running a bed and breakfast out of your home, there really isn’t much of a reason to have more than one or two mugs per household member. If you do need many, consider investing in a wall rack to hang your mugs on and free up some cupboard space.
The same thing goes for drinking glasses, plastic cups, and even wine glasses. Unless you’re collecting shot glasses, and in that case, they should be on a display shelf, you probably can get away with having maybe three or four of them instead of a dozen.
Mismatched, stained, or warped food storage containers plague cupboards everywhere. This may be a lengthy endeavor if you have a big collection or haven’t purged in ages.
The first step is to pull them all out of the cupboard. Match lids with bases, and if you have any that don’t have a match, toss it in the recycle bin. Red stains, melted corners, cracked lids, and any with lids that don’t fit right anymore can get recycled as well.
And if you’re tired of always ending up with mismatched and orphaned containers, consider a clever hack we shared last year: switching entirely to standardized plastic deli containers so your collection of containers and lids is permanently mix ‘n’ match.
Now’s also a good time to clean up under your kitchen sink. There’s a chance you have some dried-up or leaky containers under there.
Rhino Under-Sink Mat
This flexible silicone holds up to 1.5 gallons and can be trimmed to fix in standard cabinet sizes.
Pull everything out and give that area a good cleaning while you’re down there. While you’re at it, consider buying an under-sink liner—it’s like a boot tray, but for your under-sink bottles and cleaners.
You might be able to knock it out in a few hours or your kitchen might end up being a weekend project. Either way, you’ll definitely free up some extra space so your cupboards, drawers, and counter won’t be so cluttered! Better yet, you can pass along your extra gadgets and utensils to somebody who can get some use out of them.