Before & After: Quick & Easy Spice Cabinet Clean-Up

So even though we've only been in this house for a few months, I swear our spices and mixes are multiplying in the dark recesses of their cabinet. The main pantry cabinet stays pretty organized, but this spice cabinet has been growing more chaotic by the day. Before sitting down to make a grocery list for the weekend, I decided the time had come to corral the chaos to see what I actually had before heading out to buy more.

As you can see, the pantry cabinet looks pretty full but stuff is just piled in with no sense of order. Adding spices to dinner is an adventure as I just grab whatever I can reach, and when my husband cleans up afterward, he just shoves them into any available space.

Step 1: Empty the cabinet.
It isn't possible to reorganize without spreading out what you have first. I pulled everything out onto the countertop but you can use a table if you don't have space on the counter (or if you are emptying a larger cabinet). Don't be surprised to find unexpected duplicates that you bought because you somehow lost track of the stuff in the back of the cabinet!

Step 2: Group your items into like categories.
I had baking supplies, spices, marinades, and mix packets (taco seasoning, steak seasoning, etc), as well as a selection of salad dressings and condiments. Assembling these items together made it easier to decide which things should go on which shelf based on space. Consider now whether you can repackage any items to make for easier storage. I had some IKEA cutlery containers lying around that I decided to use to hold the seasoning packets to reduce the mess they can create in cabinets, and a large glass now holds two boxes of those flavor packets you add to bottled water.

Step 3: Clean the shelves.
If you have peeling shelf paper or other repairs to be made, now is the time to do it. I made the great discovery that my shelves are adjustable only to realize that they had been painted in place more than once, so moving them was likely to ruin the paint job. I decided not to tackle moving the shelves, but you might want to consider it depending on how well your items fit on your shelves.

Step 4: Put everything back with an eye toward keeping the items you use the most easily accessible.
I put cake frosting and other baking supplies at the back on the top shelf because these are rarely used at my house. Ditto for the marinades for my husband's infrared turkey fryer. The canisters of seasoning packets also went up top because they are easy to grab to pull out. Liquids were all shelved together and spices organized so the smallest ones and those I use most often are front and central.

All in all, it took less than 30 minutes to reorganize this cabinet, and I am confident that I will be able to maintain the new organization — at least for a little while! Do you have any tips on pantry reorganization? Ho often do you clean out your shelves?

-- Post by Colleen Quinn of Apartment Therapy

Related: Look! Beautiful (and Cheap) Spice Storage Solution

(Images: Colleen Quinn)

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