Tackle Kitchen Clutter in 30 Minutes or Less
We cook and eat in them. We stagger into them for coffee in the morning. We gather in them for glasses of wine with friends, or our kids do homework in them.
Kitchens get a lot of traffic, so it’s not surprising that they also collect a lot of stuff, especially on the counters. Pretty soon, we find ourselves looking for a place to put down the hot dish we just took out of the oven or sorting through a stack of papers for that school permission slip we were supposed to have signed, like, last week.
If your kitchen could use a serious edit, but you just don’t have time for a full-on decluttering session, try a 30-minute mini-session. And while 30 minutes likely isn’t enough time to clear out your whole kitchen, you’d be surprised what you can get rid of in just 30 minutes or less.
To time yourself, set an actual timer, then work fast. What’s done at the end of the timer is done. The rest can wait until another session. If you don’t want to use a timer, try dialing up a playlist and tell yourself you’ll end your declutter session after, say, ten songs. Or listen to a chapter in an audiobook.
While you probably can’t get to every corner of your kitchen, here are some areas/items you can target for one session. Do as many as you can.
PAPER CLUTTER Bills, magazines, notes, homework, art work, junk mail, newspapers. The kitchen counter or island is often a repository for these kinds of items because it’s the first place people dump things when they come in the door. If you can’t immediately take these items to another place, like your home office, then sort them into labeled baskets, such as “bills” and “junk mail,” to corral the clutter.
COOKBOOKS Got a first-edition copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking that you never use but can’t part with? Move books like that to a bookshelf with your other prized books. Consider photocopying recipes from cookbooks and placing them either in a binder or a recipe box, then moving the cookbooks elsewhere. If you see a recipe in a magazine, it’s easy to tear that out and stick it in a binder, too.
KITCHEN LINENS Put away any oven mitts or hot pads sitting out. Go through your kitchen linen drawer and weed out any tattered, torn, faded, or thinning dish towels. Give them a second life as dust rags, or donate them to places like veterinary clinics or animal shelters, where they frequently need towels of all kinds.
SPECIALIZED UTENSILS OR GADGETS Wooden spoons look nice grouped in a cannister, but do you really need twelve of them? What about that pour-over coffee carafe that you never have time to use? Decorative or specialty items like these take up precious space. Move them into drawers, stick them in a cabinet, or donate them.
BAKEWARE Sort through your baking sheets, muffin tins, brownie pans, and loaf pans. Weed out items that are old, warped, or unused.
SPICES Spices tend to lose their pizzaz over time. Opened jars of whole spices should be tossed after one year. Ground spices, after they’re opened, should be replaced after six months.
FOOD STORAGE CONTAINERS How many plastic containers do you have that don’t have lids anymore? Chances are, quite a few. If you can’t match up a container with its lid, then find other uses for the bottoms or donate them.
FAST FOOD UTENSILS Bring home enough to-go meals, and you’re bound to accumulate a bunch of packets of plastic utensils, plastic straws, and paper napkins. Same with tiny packets of salt and pepper or ketchup. Keep such items in a sack, and when you have a full sack, take it to a homeless shelter or a food donation drop-off site, or use them for your next picnic rather than buying new plastic utensils and condiments.
COFFEE MUGS Say goodbye to any chipped mugs or ones with broken-off handles. Ask yourself whether that national park mug with the bear on it really matches the other mugs in your cabinet. You can always display special mugs somewhere else, or donate them.
MEDICINES AND VITAMINS If you don’t have kids in the house, place these items in a drawer or group them in a see-through container, rather than leaving them loose on the counter. Be sure to store them away from heat sources so they’ll keep longer, and make sure you toss any expired items. If you have children in the house, store all medicines/vitamins in a safe place away from little hands.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that add up to something big, isn’t it? Taking little bites out of kitchen clutter with 30-minute clean-up sessions will lead to more space to work in your kitchen. And that feeling of space just might motivate you to start your day with a healthy breakfast or end your day with an amazing meal.