You’re Not Finished Spring Cleaning Until You’ve Hit These 7 Kitchen Clutter Hot Spots

published Apr 12, 2023
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While the idea of a seasonal clean can be overwhelming, these periodic deep dives are also very satisfying, as we turn our attention to the nooks and crannies (or big jobs) that we tend to ignore the rest of the year. 

In preparation for spring cleaning in the kitchen, we checked in with pro organizers Janine Sarna-Jones, founder and president of Organize Me Inc., and Andrea Markson, founder of Sleek Living NY, to find out the spots that reliably need decluttering or cleaning this time of year. Here’s what they told us.

1. The Pantry

It’s unlikely this is a surprise to you. Your pantry is a workhorse, and it’s easy for it to descend into chaos. “When the pantry is disorganized, people forget what they already bought and have the tendency to buy more and further fill it, pushing the front items like goods and cans to the back of the cabinet and therefore forgetting them,” says Markson. “It’s an inefficient and potentially expensive habit.” In addition to organizing shelves with newest items at the back, and oldest at the front, review the pantry and check for dented cans, long-expired products, and any possible infiltration of pests. (It happens — but decanting can prevent it.)

2. Cookware

Sarna-Jones advises a full review of your cookware, especially your nonstick items. “If you have any pans with Teflon that is scratched, get rid of them,” she says. It can actually be a health hazard if you continue to cook with them.

3. Spices

This area is especially problematic for people who cook often, and Sarna-Jones recommends replenishing whatever is running low, as well as evaluating the age of those “once-a-year” spices. “I know I have some pretty old cloves,” she says. It can be hard to put everything back in its place in the “heat” of cooking; take a moment to restore whatever system you have for organizing your spices so they’re where they belong the next time you reach for them. 

4. “Tupperware” Storage

This drawer or cabinet is a top contender for getting the most cluttered, the fastest, in Markson’s clients’ homes. No spring cleaning is complete until you’ve organized your plastic food storage containers and lids. “We also often notice that people collect the food containers from their takeout,” she says. “These items make their way into the [space with the] other food containers and create additional mess and accumulation.” (If that’s you, sort and recycle as you organize.)

5. Drawer Systems Gone Awry

It’s likely you have one or more drawer systems that are working for you. Leave them alone and train your eye on the one that isn’t, says Sarna-Jones. She names the kitchen drawer housing multiple utensils or gadgets as most problematic. “Look through it for what you actually use, and then create a drawer for the rest — the ‘infrequently used gadgets and utensils.’” 

6. The Refrigerator

Same as the “pantry” — but with contents that are even more perishable. Both of our pro organizers named the refrigerator (and freezer) as a spot that needs a good cleaning and checking for expired products in the spring. “Even though some products have long expiration dates like cans or jars, they do eventually expire,” says Markson. “Do a whole cleanout — every inch of the thing, from fridge to freezer,” says Sarna-Jones. Here are our best tips for cleaning out the refrigerator.

7. Stove Area

Your stovetop is probably in good shape, but Sarna-Jones cites underneath and next to the stove as places where things (crumbs, grime, etc.) collect. If you want to get “nitty gritty,” grab a toothbrush and scrub the area between the stove and the countertop. For even more heavy lifting, pull the stove out and clean behind it. You’ll be on track for a cleaner home until next spring.