Decluttering the kitchen was the focus of the first week of my New Year Declutter Plan.
If you are just joining the decluttering fun I recommend reading the link above to get your own copy of the New Year Declutter Plan.
Declutter the Kitchen
The kitchen is often cited as being the heart of the home. The kitchen is where the vast majority of a family’s time is spent.
Whether it is preparing a meal, sharing a meal, or simply cleaning up the dishes together, the kitchen is where the people are.
Because the kitchen is often the place where so many gather, it easily collects all the things. From multiple sets of dinnerware to a drawer full of who-knows-what. The kitchen can easily become full of clutter.
Steps to Declutter the Kitchen
Anytime you take on a declutter project it can feel like an overwhelming project. Trying to declutter the kitchen may seem particularly difficult due to the amount of “stuff” we keep in our kitchens.
Here are a few tips to help you with decluttering your kitchen once and for all.
1. Focus on what is not just useful but also used
In the kitchen, it can be easy to fall into the trap of “what if”. You might look at a drawer packed full of utensils and think “what if I need that in the future?”
When it comes to decluttering, it is important to step out of your comfort zone and be ruthless. This means being brutally honest with yourself.
There is no need to have 15 place settings when you are usually the host of big gatherings. Have enough place settings for you and your family is all that is necessary.
As you work through your kitchen space, make sure you ask yourself this question “is this used by my family in this kitchen?”
If the answer is no, then it is time to get rid of it.
2. Have boxes and bags on hand
When you are ready to start the process of decluttering the kitchen, you will need to have the essential tools on hand… a box for donations/selling and a bag for trash.
As you work your way through each area, place items you no longer want into the correct place.
Once you are finished make sure to dispose of the trash right away and place donation boxes into the car.
To be successful in the process of decluttering, it is important to make sure the items you are getting rid of actually stay out of your home.
3. Start with your food items and storage spaces
One area of the kitchen that can collect clutter without us really knowing is where we store our food.
Food gets pushed to the back of the fridge. Meats drop to the bottom of the freezer. And the worst offender of all is the pantry. Canned goods can be forgotten for years if we aren’t careful.
I recommend starting your decluttering plan in these areas first.
Work in each area to completion before moving onto the next area. If you have large amounts of food stored in your home this may take more than one day.
4. Remove All the Items to a Table or Counter
When you are working in an area, it is best to remove all the items from that space and place them onto the counter or table.
By removing them from where they normally live, gives you a new view of each item. Often times you won’t notice how much of something you have until it is out of the cabinet or off the shelf.
When you are working through your food, go through each item and check for expiration dates. If it is expired or no longer good, toss it out. If it is still good but frankly something you don’t see your family eating, place these items in a box for donating to a local pantry.
When you decide you no longer need kitchen items, appliances or cookware, place them in either the sale, donate, or trash pile.
5. Consider Your Hosting and Eating Habits
When working through your place settings (plates, bowls, etc) it is important to consider the following: Does your family host parties or dinners often?
If yes then you will need to have additional plates, bowls, silverware, and glasses. I recommend keeping enough place settings for the number of people you OFTEN host.
You can consider other options for the occasional large gathering like the holidays.
If the answer is no, what is the reason for so many extra place settings? Consider donating or selling plates beyond what your family needs.
By decreasing the number of dishes you have, you will decrease how many dishes need to be washed. Fewer dishes also means less clutter.
6. Declutter Unused Storage Containers
A few years ago it felt like anytime we opened our cabinets and we were assaulted by bowl or lid falling out of the cabinet.
After getting married the Hubs and I combined our kitchen supplies and for one reason or another we ended up with an insane number of storage containers.
When decluttering the kitchen, storage containers are one of the first “what if” items people cling to. But ask yourself, how often do you ACTUALLY use these containers?
In our home, we donated all of our plastic containers and purchased glass. The glass containers seem to hold up to use better and therefore we needed fewer of them.
Keep the number of containers you think you would need in a week. For us, we keep quite a few to use between lunches and meal leftovers.
7. Keep Only the Cookware You Need
With so many different types of cookware on the market, it can be easy to get sucked into the latest trend.
Before you know it you have cast iron, aluminum, Teflon, and stainless steel versions of the same pot or pan.
Cookware takes up loads of space in both the cabinet and the dishwasher and can make clutter appear from what seems like nowhere.
As you are decluttering the kitchen, think about what pans you use each week as well as the specialty pans you need for special meals. Keep only those.
If you have duplicates in various types of pans, keep the type you like the best. There really is no need for 3 different types of quart saucepans if you’re not using them regularly.
8. Eliminate Duplicate Appliances
Can openers, pressure cookers, air fryers, crock pots of all sizes, griddles, blenders… the list can go on and on.
With amazing cooking shows all around, it can feel almost necessary to have the latest and greatest kitchen appliance. But at the end of the day, these appliances take up so. much. space.
If you are blessed with a chef’s kitchen or a walk-in pantry and have the space to house all of these appliances then, by all means, keep what makes you happy.
But if you are like me, and have limited counter and cabinet space, having all the kitchen appliances is not realistic.
As you are decluttering the kitchen, consider keeping only the appliances you actually use.
Additionally, ditch the appliances that complete the same task. For instance, if you have a stand mixer do you need a hand mixer?
9. Say Farewell to the Broken, Damaged, and Weird
We’ve all had the cabinets full of the weird shaped bottle our child got from that time we visited the orchard. Or perhaps you have that water bottle whose lid doesn’t close all the way but “it still works to drink from”.
These sorts of extras in our kitchen make sense for keeping in the moment we get them, but the truth is we never reach for it later.
You’re not going to take that broken water bottle because it will leak when it topples over. And that weird shaped bottle from the orchard… well it is has been in the cabinet for over a year.
Now that you are decluttering the kitchen, it is time to say farewell to these things.
Go through and pull out everything that is broken, damaged, and just plain weird and get rid of it.
10. Be Realistic with Heirlooms
Kitchen supplies seem to be the most often given family heirloom. From Grandma’s good china to aunt Sally’s old stand mixer. The kitchen can fill up with our family’s cast-offs pretty quickly.
And while these heirlooms were likely given with a gracious heart, it is important to weigh the stress of having them. If keeping a 45 piece dinner set from Grandma means you have 3 large boxes in your basement that you trip over or a cabinet of unused dishes, it might be time to reconsider the gift.
If you truly love your Grandma’s old dishes, I challenge you to USE them. Serve your family food on the wonderful dishes that remind you of someone you loved.
Think honestly about the items you keep in your kitchen and if they are causing you stress, give them a new home… somewhere else.
11. Declutter the Kitchen Counter
An instant stress reliever is a clean, clutter-free kitchen counter.
Look at every item you have on the counter and consider if it could be housed elsewhere.
An easy fix is removing infrequently used appliances to a cabinet. Another option is to move cooking supplies such as seasonings and oils to a cabinet. You could also place cooking tools such as spatulas in a drawer vs a container on the counter.
12. Don’t Forget Under the Kitchen Sink
Under the kitchen sink is an area of the kitchen that can unintentionally go neglected. It is usually filled with stuff we don’t often need so “out of sight, out of mind”.
Rather than letting this space go unused or at least unacknowledged, take time to sort through and make the space work for you.
In our home, we store cleaning supplies and dishwashing supplies under the sink.
By using baskets or bins to store supplies you can avoid spilled bottles, messes, and lost supplies.
There are also a number of organizational supplies that can convert the back of your cabinets into useful space as well. I use a similar device to house our cutting mats and silicone cooking sheets.
13. Organize the Kitchen In a Way That Works
Congrats! You’ve done it! You’ve decluttered the kitchen!
But your work isn’t over just yet.
Now that you have purged the kitchen, it is time to reset. This means putting everything back.
One challenge with completing a declutter is maintaining the lack of clutter. One thing that will help with this is to make sure you set your kitchen up in a way that works for you.
Don’t try to replicate the beautifully organized pantries you see on social media if it won’t work for your family.
At the end of the day, you and your family need to be able to use your kitchen and the supplies within. Focus on creating a system that makes finding and using easy.
14. Be Creative When Organizing
Our kitchen is not huge. We do not have a large walk-in pantry. All of this means we had to be creative in how we organize our food supplies.
Consider using baskets, bins, jars, and canisters to help organize your food items.
What is the hardest part of the kitchen for you to tackle?