5 Things You Should Never Store on Your Kitchen Counters, According to Professional Organizers

published Nov 4, 2021
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Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

Kitchen countertops are notorious for being one of the most cluttered areas of the home. Out in the open and in the most heavily trafficked room, they’re practically magnets for clutter and mess. Add one pile here, a small appliance there — and before you know it, your kitchen ends up looking super unkempt.

To help you declutter, we spoke to two professional organizers, and both were quick to share advice on the top five things you should never store on your kitchen counters. Plus, they had some thoughts about what you should do with those items instead. Curious? Let’s take a look!

Credit: Chloe Berk

1. Rarely used small appliances

It might seem obvious that you shouldn’t store rarely used kitchen appliances, such as a juicer or waffle maker, on your countertops. Leaving items out, however, becomes the norm when convenience sets in. (Maybe you think you’ll make more waffles if you leave that iron out?) Pia Thompson, professional organizer at Sweet Digs, and Esther Konz, personal organizer and blogger at Uncluttered Simply, recommend avoiding this habit all together, especially if you have a small kitchen or very limited counter space.

What to do instead: Both organizing pros suggest taking out what you need when you need it. “Say this mantra out loud: ‘If I don’t use it every time I cook, it’s taking up too much space on my counter,’” advises Thompson. Find a home for the small appliances that you don’t use every day — whether that’s in a cabinet, in a nearby closet, or in the basement or garage!

2. Food

While this does not apply when cooking, keeping food constantly out on the counters opens the door to more kitchen clutter. “Because even the most careful and experienced cook can end up with spills all over the counter, it’s a better idea to store food in cabinets and drawers to avoid both additional cleanup and countertop clutter,” Thompson explains. Fruit is the one food people most often leave out on counters. And while that could encourage you to eat more fruit, it also clutters up your counter, she says. Along with fruit, it’s common to also keep packaged chips and cookies out, too. Together, food left out on the counter equals one big, disorganized mess.

What to do instead: Without taking up precious counter space, Thompson uses a macrame fruit hammock. “By having fruit front and center, it makes it more likely you and your family will go for a healthy snack,” she says. As for those packaged goodies, store them away in a cabinet or pantry with this easy hack, featuring an IKEA organizer. If you want to leave dry goods out on the counter, consider storing them in pretty containers that look nice while they sit out.

Credit: Ana Kamin

3. Knife blocks

While knives may be one of the most-used kitchen tools, storing them on the kitchen counter is not recommended due to clutter and safety concerns, especially with small children. For what it’s worth, Kitchn editors also dislike knife blocks because they can harbor bacteria and also damage the blades.

What to do instead: Both Thompson and Konz agree that knives should be kept out of a child’s reach by storing them either on a high-hanging magnetic strip or in a drawer.

4. Cleaning products

Cleaning a kitchen after a day of cooking can be one of the most daunting tasks, so it’s natural to find ways to make it easier or quicker to clean. Still, Thompson says cleaning chemicals and food should never be near each other. That means avoid storing cleaning supplies on the counter. “Can you imagine spilling any of these dangerous substances onto your food because you mistook it for an ingredient? Don’t take that chance,” Thompson says. “Put cleaning products into a cabinet.”

What to do instead: Thompson suggests using this practical, under-the-sink sliding organizer to keep cleaning products within easy reach once you’re ready to clean your countertops.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Miscellaneous junk

Scissors, matches, your medicine, your pet’s medicine, phone chargers … these things are all important, but they end up looking pretty junky on your counter! Thompson and Konz suggest putting your junk drawer to use, or even finding a different way to store these items.

What to do instead: Thompson loves this sleek bread box, which can be multi-purpose while still looking great on the counter. “Consider using it to store your vitamins, wellness products, or even junk items that you access daily or regularly,” she says. Another option, according to Thompson, is this stylish magnetic fridge organizer that keeps things tidy and easily accessible on the side of your refrigerator. “It can hold paper towels, utensils, foil, and so many other things, in a space that’s rarely used,” she says.

How do you avoid kitchen countertop clutter? Tell us in the comments below.