As part of our month long series on home organization, this week we’re going to tackle the kitchen. We’ll begin by getting rid of unused and unwanted ítems. Many people complain that they don’t have enough storage space but in reality, most people just have too many things.This can be especially true in the kitchen.
Remember, if organizing intimidates you, or you have gone years without reining in the clutter, be easy on yourself. Try to set yourself the goal of accomplishing just one ítem on the list per day. Remember: Slow and steady wins the race. The more time you take, the better you’ll be able to maintain your organized home for weeks, months or even years. So let’s get started!
1.Take all your pots, pans and cooking utensils out of the cabinets- Once they’re out, hold each one in your hands and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy in me?” If not, ask yourself, “Do I use this regularly?” If you can answer yes to one of those two questions, keep it. If not, throw it away. For example . . . if you bought a copper pan for whisking egg whites in France years ago, have used it twice but it is still one of your favorite things then keep it! Maybe even figure out a way you can display it for others to see. However, if you have fifty recycled plastic containers from the deli that you keep around because you think you might use them all someday, even though you only use five on a regular basis, then keep five and toss the rest. One thing to keep in mind when tossing things . . . make sure to consider the wishes of other family members. It’s ok to throw away gifts if you don’t like them. But if it will hurt your granddaughter’s feelings to throw away the cup she made for you in art class, you might want to consider keeping it until she gets a little older. Finally, make sure to involve your husband in the organization process. We know one woman who threw out over half of her husband’s corkscrews (he had nine, most of them identical). He still hasn’t forgiven her.
2. Take all your dishes, glassware and flatware out of the cabinets and drawers- Again, go through these items as you did the pots and pans, asking yourself the two key questions.
3. Using the steps above, discard of all expired food or food you are never going to eat. If possible, we recommend you donate all good food to a local food kitchen. Don’t forget to go through the freezer. It is easy for people to buy lots of meat or frozen vegetables and let them sit in the freezer for years. Not only is it taking up important real estate, but it presents a future health risk.
4. Following the above steps, discard of any unused cleaning supplies- If you have multiple bottles or boxes of any ítem, try and consolidate them.
5. Throw away all carrier bags- This is the number one cause of wasted space in most people’s kitchens. Worse, unused paper bags can attract cockroaches. So be ruthless- take them all to the recycling bin and don’t look back.
6. Clean everything- nothing is worse than getting everything organized, but not going the extra step to clean cabinets, drawers and shelves before putting the items back in them. Don’t forget to clean the inside of your refrigerator, and your oven.
7. Assess your storage needs- This is something you can do while you declutter. Did you notice that you have flour or sugar laying on the bottom of your cabinets? Invest in some jars to keep your dry goods organized and prolong their shelf life. Were your kitchen tools (spatulas, wooden spoon, knives) all thrown in a big drawer? If so, invest in dividers. This not only helps you keep them organized, but can protect you. The last thing you want to do is cut your finger on a sharp knife while rummaging around, trying to find the potato masher.
Something that can be particularly helpful are cabinet dividers. Many kitchen cabinets are much taller than most of the items that are in them- this is particularly true of the cabinet under the sink. You can double your storage space by investing a few dollars.
8. Designate a space for everything- One of the biggest reasons people don’t clean, or put dishes away, is that they get overwhelmed trying to find a place for them. Once you rid your kitchen of the extra clutter, and optimize your storage solutions, we believe you’ll find it much easier to keep your space clean. Not only does having an organized home save you time and money, you feel great!