Last week I shared a post with 6 high-impact ways to begin simplifying your kitchen. Today, I’m sharing a practical guide all about how to declutter your kitchen as a whole. There’s even a list of 20 things to declutter right now to kickstart your decluttering progress!
Kitchens are great places to declutter and simplify. Not only will a clutter-free, simplified kitchen save you considerable amounts of time, energy and stress. But it’s often easier to make more practical (and less emotional) decluttering decisions in the kitchen. Although we do have some sentimental or expensive items in our kitchens that can be hard to let go of, many kitchen items are easier to let go of.
More inspiration to simplify your kitchen!
To help and encourage you as you work to simplify and declutter your kitchen, be sure to check out the other posts in my “simplify your kitchen” series!
Questions to help declutter your kitchen
When you declutter your kitchen, there are 5 key questions to help you decide what to keep and what to get rid of:
- Do you use the item on a regular basis?
- Does it add value to your life and/or make cooking easier or more enjoyable?
- Could you use something else if you didn’t have this item?
- Does the item make you happy when you see or use it?
- Are you keeping this item out of feelings of guilt or obligation, even if you don’t use, need or like it?
I have a more extensive list of decluttering questions that you can check out for items you’re struggling with. But for the most part, these 5 questions will help you decide what to do with most items as you declutter your kitchen.
3 approaches to declutter your kitchen
Depending on your time, needs and preferences, there are 3 different ways to approach decluttering your kitchen. Most of us use some combination of these 3 approaches to get the job done.
1. Decluttering everything at once
The first approach is decluttering your whole kitchen at once. This method usually involves emptying all your cupboards and drawers and sorting through everything.
This method of decluttering requires a larger chunk of time and often makes a big mess of your kitchen while you’re working. But it gives you immediate results. And it’s great because you can see everything you own at one time which can often help you be more ruthless.
2. Declutter your kitchen a little bit at a time
The second approach is to declutter your kitchen a little bit at a time over a period of time. You might plan to declutter one cupboard, drawer or shelf each day. Or plan to declutter for a set amount of time, maybe 10 to 15 minutes each day.
When you’re tackling a big decluttering project, breaking it down into smaller projects is a great way to make it more manageable and less overwhelming.
Once you get in the habit of decluttering, it becomes easier to fit it into your day. For example, while you’re cooking, you might be able to quickly declutter a drawer. Or while you’re cleaning up the kitchen after supper you can tackle a cupboard.
The great thing about this method is that it’s easy to fit into a busy schedule, doesn’t require a big block of time and can feel less overwhelming.
The downside is it takes longer to finish decluttering your kitchen so you don’t see immediate results. And it can often lead to less ruthless decluttering because you don’t get a “big picture” look at everything you own.
3. Decluttering like items together
This decluttering method is a great combination of the first two methods. In this method, you gather all like items together and declutter them at one time.
For example, gather all your serving dishes together, assess what you have and get rid of what you don’t use, need or love. Then do the same with your everyday dishes, your mugs, your baking ware, etc. until you have decluttered each category of items in your kitchen.
The benefits of this method are seeing everything you own of each type of item at once makes it easier to know exactly what you have. And you can work on decluttering in smaller chunks of time.
The downside of this method is that it may not be as convenient if you have to gather items from multiple places in your kitchen.
Decide which method works best for you to declutter your kitchen
All 3 methods are effective and will get the job done.
Decide which method works better for you and go for it. Often times you might find yourself using a combination of the three methods to declutter your kitchen.
You might have an hour to spend decluttering one Saturday afternoon and get a big chunk of decluttering done. Then continue to work at it for 15 minutes a day after that.
There is no right or wrong way to declutter your kitchen. The key is actually getting started and getting rid of the things you don’t use, need or love.
And remember, any time you spend decluttering now, will save you a significant amount of time, energy and stress in the future!
For more tips to declutter efficiently and effectively, check out this post with 11 tips to make decluttering easy. And this post for some ways to fit decluttering into your day even when you’re short on time.
Tips & tricks to declutter your kitchen
Once you’ve decided how you will declutter your kitchen, here are a couple of tips and tricks to keep you going strong!
The “maybe box”: out of sight, out of mind
Kitchens seem to be full of “what if” and “just in case” items. It’s easy to hang on to things just in case you might need them. But one of the big keys to decluttering your kitchen is only keeping the things you realistically use and need on a regular basis and getting rid of the rest.
But still, it can be hard to get past some of these “what if” and “just in case” thoughts. The best way to handle these kinds of items is to use what I like to call the “maybe box”.
How to use a “maybe box”
Anything you find yourself hanging onto just in case you might need it goes in the maybe box. Pack up all the just in case items, seal the box and put it out of sight. Add a reminder to your calendar to revisit the box in 1 to 3 months. If you haven’t needed (or even thought about!) the items in your maybe box, get rid of them knowing you’ll be just fine without them.
Sometimes some time and space away from our stuff are all we need to gain more perspective and be willing and able to let go of the extra stuff we don’t use or need.
The sticky-note decluttering method
Another trick to declutter your kitchen is to use the sticky-note decluttering method.
Put a small sticky-note on every dish, pan, bowl, etc. in your kitchen. When you use the item, take the sticky-note off. After a month or so, see what still has the sticky-note on it.
This is a great way to assess what you are really using, and what you’re not. Sometimes having a visual reminder of how little you use an item makes it easier to let go!
Declutter your kitchen: 20 things to get rid of right now!
Sometimes when you’re beginning a decluttering project, it’s hard to know where to start. It can feel overwhelming to think about the decluttering project as a whole. Or sometimes it’s just hard to take the first step and get started.
Often the hardest, but most important, part of decluttering is getting started. You can plan your decluttering all you want, but if you don’t actually dive in and start getting rid of things, you won’t make progress towards your clutter-free goals.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about decluttering your kitchen or just don’t know where to start, this list is for you! I’m sharing 20 things to declutter from your kitchen to give you a place to start.
Usually, once you get started, it’s easier to keep going. Use this list to kickstart your kitchen decluttering. Then use the decluttering tips above to keep going!
Remember, this is a great time to use a “maybe box”. If you’re unsure if you can live without something or find yourself hanging onto it “just in case” use a maybe box to experiment living with less.
And don’t forget to check out last week’s post with 6 high-impact ways to simplify your kitchen to give you more hints and motivation to get a simplified, clutter-free kitchen you’ll love!
20 things to get rid of to declutter your kitchen
1. Food storage containers
Get rid of any without a lid or any extra lids without a bottom. Next, get rid of any that are warped or in rough shape.
After that, assess how many food storage containers you realistically need and use. It’s easy to accumulate way too many food storage containers that sit unused and clutter up your kitchen. Decide what is enough for you and get rid of the rest.
2. Pots & pans
Get rid of any duplicate sizes of pots and pans you never use. Then get rid of any that aren’t in good condition. Keep your favourite pots and pans you use most often.
3. Expired, stale or rotten food from your pantry, fridge and freezer
Expired food may not seem like an obvious source of clutter, but if your pantry, fridge and freezer are crowded with food that’s past it’s prime it definitely makes cooking more difficult. Get rid of the food that’s no longer good. It’ll be easier to see what you have.
If you still have too much food, make a plan to eat what’s in your pantry, fridge and freezer to reduce what you have before buying more groceries.
4. Under the sink
Get rid of any cleaning products you don’t like or use. Plan to use up any partially used cleaning products before buying more. Toss any cleaning sponges, scrubbers or dishcloths that are old, gross or falling apart.
5. Measuring spoons and cups
Keep your favourite set and get rid of duplicates.
6. Serving dishes
Think about which serving dishes you use regular and love. Get rid of extras and serving dishes you don’t love.
7. Holiday dishes
It’s ok to keep some seasonal and holiday items, even if it means only using them once or twice a year, as long as they meet two conditions.
First, you honestly do use them regularly during holiday or seasonal times. It’s easy to keep seasonal items, but forget to use them, or stick with your favourites anyways!
And second, you really love using them when you have the chance to. If you have Christmas dishes you don’t really love but use every year just because they are for Christmas, don’t keep them!
8. Small appliances
The ultimate space hogs in the kitchen! First, look for small appliances that have duplicate functions to see if you can get rid of the duplicates.
Next, be very honest with yourself and decide if each appliance is worth the considerable amount of space it takes up. If you rarely use it, is it worth devoting such a large piece of kitchen real estate to?
And finally, if an appliance is meant to save you time and effort while cooking but is difficult and time-consuming to clean, is it really saving you time or energy?
9. Cooking utensils
Get rid of duplicates, damaged utensils and utensils you never use.
10. Everyday dishes
Think about how many dishes you realistically need on a daily basis. This is a great opportunity to use a “maybe box” to experiment with living with fewer dishes.
You can read more about why fewer dishes help to simplify your kitchen here.
Keep your favourites and get rid of the ones you always move aside to reach your favourites. Also get rid of any that are chipped, stained, you don’t like or just never use!
Decide what is a realistic amount for your family and get rid of the extras. Toss any glasses that are chipped, you don’t like or just never use.
13. Baking ware
Keep your favourites that you always reach for first. Get rid of any you never or rarely use. Also get rid of any in rough shape.
14. Casserole dishes
Honestly assess which casserole dishes you use regularly, then get rid of any you rarely or never use. Also get rid of any that are chipped, broken or in rough shape.
15. Mixing bowls
Think about which mixing bowls you use regularly, then get rid of any that you rarely or never use.
Spices don’t last forever. Sort through your spice collection and get rid of any that are stale or expired. Then get rid of any you never use – or don’t even know what they are!
17. Gadgets and gizmos
There are so many kitchen gadgets and gizmos out there. Some do come in handy, but many just end up as unused clutter in our kitchens.
Get rid of any you never use. Often basic kitchen tools will easily do the same job as many of these gadgets – without adding extra clutter!
Get rid of any that are broken or damaged. Keep your favourites that you reach for most often. A small collection of good quality knives are better than a big collection of knives you never use.
19. Tea towels and dishcloths
First, get rid of any that are worn out. Then, based on how often you do laundry and how many dishcloths and tea towels you need, get rid of the extras. Keep your favourites and keep a number that makes sense for you and your family, but let the rest go.
20. Clear off the front of your refrigerator
As I mentioned in last week’s post, clearing off the front of your fridge is a really easy way to reduce visual clutter in your kitchen. A clear refrigerator makes a big visual impact on the look and feel of your kitchen. And is a great way to inspire you to declutter the kitchen even more!
I hope this gives you some inspiration and motivation to get into your kitchen and start decluttering!
What’s the biggest source of clutter in your kitchen?
If you’re ready to start decluttering and simplifying your kitchen, let me know in the comments below – I’d love to cheer you on!