5 Reasons Your Kitchen Is Still Messy

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Despite your best efforts — you’ve KonMaried, you’ve spent hundreds at the Container Store, and you’ve even asked your mom for advice — your kitchen is still a mess. It’s not dirty, just cluttered.

Sure, it might stay pristine for a couple days after a deep clean or a dinner party, but by the following Wednesday, all your hard work comes undone. Why? Here are a few possible explanations, and how you can finally conquer that clutter for good.

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1. You don’t put away your dishes right away.

If you read all my posts here at The Kitchn, you’ll start to get the sense that I have a thing about dishes. To me it’s one of the simplest chores, but also one of the easiest to let get out of hand. And one thing I’ve found is that if I let dishes sit out unattended, it tends to snowball into letting other things sit out for far too long.

So my best piece of advice: Keep your dishes contained (and yes, that means fully emptying the drying rack and the dishwasher), and it will be easier to keep everything else tidy too.

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2. Not all of your stuff has a dedicated place.

We’ve all heard the phrase “a place for everything, and everything in it’s place.” It’s a good rule to live by, but if you tend to acquire new kitchen gadgets or cute little bowls that make your breakfast look even more Instagrammable without thinking about where those new pieces will go, then you’re going to run into trouble. While you might not need to do a full KonMari on your kitchen, take a look at the things that frequently end up homeless and find them a place to live for good. And if that’s in a bag destined for the thrift store, so be it.

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3. You don’t have a junk drawer.

You might discover that when you try to find a place for all of your kitchen gadgets and utensils that there is no better place for that cherry pitter or egg slicer or collection of twist-ties than in the junk drawer. You should have a junk drawer. Yes, it might get cluttered, and you might have to shuffle through it to find what you’re looking for, but it’s always a good thing to know that if you’ve looked everywhere else for that cake server, but still can’t find it, it’s probably in the junk drawer. Just embrace this one little piece of hidden chaos.

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4. It’s also your office, your child’s desk, your craft room…

As a person who works from home in a moderately small apartment, I’m definitely guilty of this one. My kitchen table is, among other things, my desk from 9 to 5 and beyond. So that means my computer sometimes lives there for days on end, and sometimes my notebooks, camera, and reference books do, too. If you’re like me, there might not be room for a desk, and the kitchen table is the best solution. If that’s the case, let me refer you back to tip number two — find a place for everything, and put it away at the end of the day. Yes, it will be a pain to put my laptop away each night and get it out again each morning, but the rest of the kitchen clutter will decrease in its wake.

If you have a more occasional problem — like your dining table turning into a sewing station when it’s time to hem curtains, make a new tablecloth, or mend a few seams — institute a strict 24-hour policy. Unless you’ll be using the project or supplies in the next 24 hours, it has to be put away when you’ve finished working on it.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

5. Your spouse/roommate/child is messy.

Okay, we’ll give you a bit of a free pass if this is your situation. Sometimes, all that clutter isn’t yours, and it’s not your job to pick it up. That said, there are a few things you can do to try to get your co-habitant to clean up.

First, be direct and ask them to put away their things when they are done with them. This is easier with a spouse or child than a roommate, for sure. Second, if there’s something you notice is a particular pain point (something that gets left out all the time), make sure there is a dedicated place for it to go. That way it’s easier for your spouse (or you) to put it away without anyone getting upset. And finally, learn to live with it. If, at the end of the day, a little clutter doesn’t bother you, let it be. Just make sure everything gets picked up before company comes.

What else keeps your kitchen chaotic?