20 Sneaky Ways to Declutter Your Kitchen

updated Nov 10, 2021
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Devoting a big chunk of your weekend (or day) to a kitchen decluttering session will leave you with, what feels like, a totally refreshed space. But many of us have neither the time nor the desire to spend hours organizing the entire kitchen in one fell swoop. We all have better things to do. That doesn’t mean you can’t get the streamlined kitchen you deserve! See, decluttering your kitchen can happen sneakily, one small task at a time.

Here are 20 ways to declutter your entire kitchen — with just a bit of effort and a few minutes here and there.

1. Toss everything related to takeout.

The extra chopsticks, ketchup packets, wrinkled rectangles of salt and pepper? Collect and toss. These types of small, disparate items are messy to store and take up more space than they’re worth. Unless you use them regularly, get rid of them and make an effort to only grab what you need next time. 

2. Clear off your fridge.

Random menus (which can easily be found online), masterpieces from art class (which can be photographed and filed), and magnets from your local pizza joint all make your fridge and kitchen look more cluttered. Clear off anything you don’t need to reference or look at regularly.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Straighten up one pantry shelf at a time.

The effect of a totally re-done pantry is satisfying, for sure, but a shelf that takes a few minutes to tackle is also pleasing to the senses — and it will inspire you to do more down the road when you have time. 

4. And then one drawer at a time.

By taking one drawer at a time, say, your utensil drawer or cooking tool drawer, or even the dreaded junk drawer, you can make steady progress in manageable increments. Eliminate duplicates, only keep what you actually use, relocate errant items, etc. 

5. Go through your mug collection.

Take out all your mugs and set them on a table or the counter. Then only put back the ones you use and love. Donate the rest. 

6. Give yourself permission to get rid of what you’re “supposed” to have.

Maybe you have a cast iron skillet because it seems like everyone loves them, but you never reach for yours. Or maybe you have an ice cream maker because you hope to, one day, be the type of person who makes homemade ice cream. Scan your kitchen for items that you never actually use and pull them out to donate.

7. Use shelf risers.

Different kinds of dishes (even in a pared-down collection) stacked on top of each other look and feel cluttered. Separate them with shelf risers for instant order. 

Credit: Marge Perry

8. Get rid of duplicates.

Most households don’t need multiple peelers or six pairs of tongs. Just because something works doesn’t mean you need to keep it if you have others that do the job just as well. Keep only one of every type of tool you use. 

9. Be wary of unitaskers.

I have a few so-called unitaskers that I’d never get rid of because they either bring joy to my kitchen or I actually use them frequently. Among these are my pasta machine and my strawberry huller. However, if you have tools that promise to make some specific task easier, but in actuality only fill your drawers uselessly, pass them along. 

10. Rotate your kitchen, seasonally.

Things like the roasting pan or ice pop molds, which get used seasonally, could be better stored elsewhere. Put them in storage (the garage or basement) or a high shelf in a closet and rotate things in and out of your kitchen based on what you use regularly and when. You have a summer and winter closet, so why not do the same with your kitchen?

11. Keep a donation bin.

Keep a bin/box/bag in the bottom of a closet so that you always have a place to put things as you’re ready to part with them. If you come across, say, a spatula that you just never use, you can toss it in the box. When the box is full, donate it and start again.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Prop Stylist: Stephanie Yeh/Kitchn

12. Streamline your cleaning supplies.

You probably have several cleaning products and supplies in the kitchen, and I bet a bunch of them live under the kitchen sink. It’s an awkward space and prone to devolving into a jumble. Empty it out, corral items in plastic baskets, and only store what you reach for regularly. This includes cleaning sprays, brushes, etc. 

13. Re-evaluate your counter space.

One powerful way to make your kitchen appear uncluttered is to keep as few items out on the counters as possible. Think about which small appliances or tools you definitely want out, and which you’d put away if you had the room. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

14. Be ruthless with your food storage.

Approach your food storage collection with the goal of getting rid of every container without a lid and every lid without a container. 

15. Use hooks.

Decluttering often means getting things out of your house, but it can also mean taming the clutter that you have to hang on to. Adhesive hooks can be easily placed on pantry walls for hanging aprons or the interiors of cabinet doors for hanging rags or bottle brushes. They add instant order and free up valuable space. 

16. Try a pantry challenge.

Your pantry ingredients can count as clutter too — the ones that are just sitting there. Challenge yourself to make a meal plan that will incorporate as many canned and dry goods as possible to free up space (and reduce your food waste!).

Credit: Cambria Bold

17. Shop your house.

Look around the other rooms of your house to see if you have organizers you can use in your kitchen. This will free up space in those rooms and help you get your kitchen in order.

18. Get rid of a certain number of items.

Decide on a certain number of items that you will purge and take a walk around the kitchen with a trash or donate bag. Start small one day (just a few things!) and go up from there.

19. Decide on a certain number to keep.

This trick works the other way, too. For example, when it comes to things like lunch boxes or water bottles, you really don’t need more than one for each family member. Have each person pick one and pass the rest along. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

20. Use tape to see what you actually use.

Put a little piece of tape on every single item in your kitchen. Then, as you use it, take the tape off. Anything that still has tape on it in six months can probably be donated.

Do you have tips for decluttering? Tell us in the comments below!