The First Thing You Should Clean If You Want a Less-Cluttered Kitchen

updated Feb 4, 2020
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The journey to a clutter-free kitchen begins with a single schlep. In other words, you’ve got to just dive in: Pick one area to focus on and start the tedious work of going through it, item by item.

If you ask me, the easiest place to start decluttering your kitchen is the pantry. There are clear rules about what should stay and what should go. Do you eat it? Do you like it? Then it stays. Is it three years past the expiration date and growing a colony of what might be an undiscovered strain of mold? Toss it. There’s no zone you could declutter with more clarity.

Your “pantry” might not be a pantry. If you stash food in a cupboard or on open shelves or out on the counter, that’s your target here. If you don’t have any area like that, try clearing the fridge or freezer instead — the instructions below will adapt nicely to any part of the kitchen.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Start Here: Clean Out Your Pantry

Set aside some time today to clear out wherever it is that you store food at home. Your “pantry” might be a cabinet or a shelf or a piece of furniture.

Before you start, you’ll want to move your trash can or a garbage bag to where you’ll be working. A bag or box for potential food donations is excellent to have on hand here as well. You may also want to keep a notepad or your phone handy for jotting down anything that needs replacing.

In the video above, I tackled the pantry cabinet in my kitchen. Watch for my technique and tips, or just follow this quick list of steps:

  1. Clear one shelf at a time. Take everything out, one shelf or section at a time.
  2. Clean, clean. clean. Clean the shelf or area while it’s empty.
  3. Sort through your items. Anything expired, as well as anything that you opened and know you aren’t going to finish, can go in the trash (or in the compost). Place unopened, still-good items you won’t use in a donation box.
  4. Replace the items on the clean shelf. If anything looks dirty or dusty, wipe it up before you set it back on the clean shelf. This is your chance to make the pantry more organized than before, so put like things together and repurpose bins and boxes to keep smaller items in order.
  5. Repeat. Repeat the process for each shelf or section.

That’s it for today! If you’re feeling super motivated, you can clean out the fridge with the same process. But it’s OK to stop here.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: This is the First Place You Should Clean if You Want a Less-Cluttered Kitchen