I Followed This Super-Smart (yet Simple) TikTok Routine to Deep Clean a Pantry — And Here’s What I Learned

published Oct 4, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Home Edit inspired pantry makeover

I love watching cleaning videos. Judging by the number of followers on many of social media’s most popular cleaning and organizing accounts, I’m definitely not the only one who gets a dopamine hit from merely watching others make a space clean and orderly. 

Cleaning accounts on Instagram and TikTok offer more than visual pleasure, though. Often, they inspire viewers to tackle their own spaces and create more order in the world. As one popular cleaning influencer Vanesa Amaro puts it, “If I can inspire one person to clean something in their house … I feel like I did my job.” With 5.5 million followers and counting, she surely inspires a few. 

I am one of those inspired people! I recently moved to a new home and admittedly I’m still organizing my pantry and figuring out where to put everything, so things have gotten pretty messy and dirty in the process. Put simply, it was very much time for a deep clean. I chose to try Vanesa’s simple routine for deep cleaning a pantry (shown above on TikTok) and here’s what I learned.

A pantry “deep clean” is different than organizing.

When your pantry is in disarray, it’s tempting to just focus on organizing and everything that goes along with that (buying product, labeling things, etc.). But pantries can get pretty dirty too. Between crumbs, onion skins, and the sticky undersides of unrefrigerated condiment bottles, your pantry definitely needs a periodic cleaning and that task can’t be neglected.

Take everything out.

This is the most important step of bringing order into any space, whether it’s a pantry or closet. Because everything comes out of the pantry when you’re going to organize it anyway, it’s the ideal time to deep clean it. Deep cleaning the pantry once everything is out of it may sound more intimidating than organizing it, but it only adds a few more steps to what you’d do if you were only going to take on organizing.


I love this step and that Vanessa points her viewers to this method. Vacuuming crumbs first is so much better than trying to clean them with a rag. Wet cleaning when there is dry dirt creates a sludgy, damp mess that is no fun to deal with. And then you have to clean again. Break up the steps and start with getting rid of the dry stuff with a thorough vacuuming. 

Use your favorite cleaner to clean from top to bottom.

Once you’ve vacuumed up the dry stuff, it’s time for the “wet” step. Use your favorite cleaner and a rag and, as Vanesa reminds us, clean from top to bottom so any remaining dirt will get cleaned after you knock it down. I personally opt to use a natural, food-safe cleaner when I’m cleaning areas like the fridge or pantry, so I would use a vinegar and water solution or a dampened all-purpose E-cloth

Sort through food.

Once you’ve cleaned the pantry, the next step involves sorting through the food you’ve taken out. Vanesa advises throwing out anything that’s expired or that you know you’re not going to eat. You may be able to put those pesky bags of crackers with only a few left and the like in a front basket so you can eat them soon. A big benefit of keeping an organized pantry — and regularly maintaining it — is that you’ll see and consume food before it goes bad (thus, minimizing waste). 

Put everything back.

This is the last step and usually the most fun because you get to see the result of all your hard work take the shape of a clean and tidy pantry. Make sure you categorize items before you put them away and implement common-sense organizing principles like putting taller items behind shorter ones, keeping like with like, facing boxes sideways like books on a shelf, and putting frequently used items at eye level. 

Do you have a system for cleaning your pantry? Tell us in the comments below.