Decluttering is an important part of simplifying your kitchen, your home and your life. If you have too much stuff, it’s impossible to keep your home or your kitchen organized and clutter-free. But decluttering isn’t the end. Once you’ve gotten rid of the clutter, you also need habits, systems and routines to maintain your clutter-free space. Today I’m sharing 13 simple habits to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free now and in the future.
Simplify your kitchen blog series!
Be sure to check out the previous posts in my kitchen decluttering series linked below. Find great info to help you get decluttering and create the clutter-free kitchen you’ll love!
Habits, routines and systems to simplify your life
Housekeeping tasks and routines usually aren’t particularly fun or glamorous. But establishing a few simple routines, habits and systems can make life so much easier.
This is particularly true in the kitchen. These simple habits to keep your kitchen organized and uncluttered are well worth the effort. Getting in the habit of taking care of kitchen messes and clutter mean you’ll spend less time cleaning and still have an organized, clutter-free kitchen.
13 habits to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free
1. Do the dishes (at least) every night
My mom taught me this shortly after I started living on my own. She told me it’s better to wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen every night, even when you’re tired, don’t feel like it, it’s late, etc. You won’t feel like doing today’s dishes any more tomorrow morning.
Do the dishes each night and you’ll never have to wake up to a sink full of dirty, dried-on, gross dishes in the morning.
It took a while for me to do this consistently. But now I see what an important habit it is to keep your kitchen clean and make your life easier.
Since having my own kids, I’ve consistently done the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen every night. Even on the nights I’m tired or am busy. It’s such a nice feeling to start each day with a clean kitchen instead of having to deal with yesterday’s dirty dishes!
It’s not always a “fun” habit, but you’ll thank yourself when you come into a clean kitchen in the morning.
2. Quickly clean up after each meal
Quickly clean up any food, dishes, placemats, etc. after you finish each meal. Give the counters a quick wipe and put everything away.
It only takes a few minutes but means your kitchen will always be clean and ready for the next meal. And when you do these quick cleanups consistently, your final clean up at the end of the day will be quicker and easier.
3. Clean as you go while cooking and baking
Cleaning as you go is one of my favourite habits to keep your kitchen organized, clean and clutter-free.
Instead of leaving all the clean up until you’re done cooking or baking, clean up as you go. Load dishes and cooking utensils into the dishwasher once you’re done using them. Have a sink full of hot soapy water while you’re cooking and quickly wash things as you finish with them.
Cleaning as you go means your kitchen will be less of a mess when you’re done cooking. And it’ll be quicker and easier to finish the clean up after you’re done cooking or eating.
Cleaning as you go is one example of simple habits to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free that don’t require much extra effort. Instead, it’s simply shifting when you clean up from all at the end of cooking or baking to keeping up with it as you work. This way you won’t finish cooking and be left with a big mess to deal with!
4. Re-use the same drinking glass throughout the day
This is something I’ve always done without thinking about it. But it makes a huge difference in the number of dirty dishes you have at the end of the day.
Instead of getting a new glass each time you have a drink, keep using the same glass throughout the day. Then wash it at the end of the day. If you switch drinks, all it needs is a quick rinse and it’s ready to go.
Most of us drink multiple beverages throughout the day. It’s easy to see how reusing the same glass can significantly cut down on the number of dishes by the end of the day. Especially if you have a family who are all drinking from a new glass each time!
This is another example of simple habits to keep your kitchen organized and tidy without much extra effort at all!
5. Meal plan
I’ve written about the benefits of meal planning before, and how much it simplifies your life. It can save you time and money, make grocery shopping easier, help you waste less food, eat healthier and more.
The great thing about meal planning is you’ll need fewer groceries and use what you buy to avoid excess amounts of food cluttering your kitchen and wasting food.
Also, cooking is easier because you’ll have a plan and all the ingredients you’ll need. No more last-minute trips to the grocery store or ordering take out because you don’t know what to cook or don’t have the ingredients!
I love seeing our fridge and pantry get a little bare looking a day or two before grocery shopping. It means we planned well and used what we bought!
6. Clean out your fridge, freezer and pantry every time you get groceries
A great way to keep your fridge, freezer and pantry from becoming cluttered and disorganized is by getting in the habit of cleaning them out regularly.
My favourite way to stay on top of fridge, freezer and pantry clutter is by cleaning them out every time I get groceries. Because I do it often, it only takes a few minutes. And things (usually) don’t have the chance to get forgotten in the back and be totally disgusting by the time I find them!
When I’m doing my meal planning, I look through my fridge, freezer and pantry. I look for anything gone bad to get rid of. And look for what we have on hand and plan meals accordingly to use what we have, then buy anything else we’ll need.
After buying the groceries, it’s easy to put everything away because the fridge, freezer and pantry are already cleaned out and organized.
All simple habits to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free that make a big difference over time!
7. Decant food items to get rid of bulky packaging
Another easy way to keep pantry, fridge and freezer clutter in check is by decanting food items. Decanting food items gets them out of their bulky packaging and into more compact, air-tight containers instead.
You’ve probably opened a box of crackers and noticed how much empty space there always is at the top. Decanting means you save space by ditching the bulky packaging. Store the food, not the packaging!
Although decanting takes a few extra minutes, it lets you save space, keep your food fresher, and if you use clear containers it makes it easy to see what you have on hand.
8. Eat from your fridge, freezer & pantry to use up excess food
Whenever I find my fridge, freezer and pantry are getting a little too full or cluttered, I like to challenge myself to not grocery shop for a while and eat up what we have.
When you have too much food in your house, it’s easy to forget about it and waste food. Challenging yourself to eat the food in your fridge, freezer and pantry, and avoid grocery shopping, is a great way to reduce clutter in your kitchen, save money and avoid wasting food.
Sometimes we have to get a little creative to use up the random odds and ends that end up in our cupboards. Turn it into a challenge and see how long you can go. It can be a fun way to reduce food clutter. And another great example of simple habits to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free!
9. Clear your counters and table every day
The flat surfaces in our kitchens can easily become clutter magnets. And because clutter seems to attract more clutter, it doesn’t take long for clutter to start piling up on your table and kitchen counters.
The best way to manage clutter on the flat surfaces in your kitchen is making it a habit to clear them off at least once a day.
If you stay on top of keeping the surfaces clear, it’s a lot easier to maintain it. Tackling any clutter that’s been left on your counters and table is a lot easier if it’s only had one day to pile up instead of a week or more.
When you’re in the habit of keeping your countertops clear, it’s easier and more enjoyable to cook and use your kitchen as well.
And a clear and clutter-free table makes it’s more likely to eat as a family or invite guests to join you. Meal times are a great time for wonderful conversations and connections. A clear table ready for eating makes it easy for these moments of connection to happen!
Stay on top of it and it will only take you a few minutes a day to maintain clutter-free counters and surfaces.
10. Set up a command center and/or catch-all basket to keep paper clutter from piling up
The habits to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free in this post often go together. This is like part 2 of the previous step.
In order to keep your counters and table clutter-free, you need a system to deal with the clutter that piles up and a place to keep the important things. This is where a command center comes in.
Basically, a command center is a centralized and organized place to keep any paperwork, household management items and office supplies you use and need often.
A command center keeps them from piling up randomly around your house. Not only does a command center keep clutter at bay, but it also means you’ll always be able to find papers and office supplies when you need them.
I wrote a detailed post with a step-by-step guide to setting up your own command center here. And you can take a tour of my functional and organized real-life command center in action here.
Use a catch-all basket
Beyond a command center, another great way to keep clutter from piling up on your counters is using a catch-all basket.
A catch-all basket is a place to put all the random items that end up on your counter throughout the day. Then at some point every day, you can quickly sort through the basket, toss the trash and put things away where they belong.
A catch-all basket corrals stuff in one central place so it doesn’t end up all over your counters. It’s especially great for family members who aren’t great at putting things away. It can help take the frustration out of keeping your counters clutter-free.
And when you and your family get in the habit of emptying your catch-all basket daily, it only takes a few minutes.
More simple habits to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free that will have a huge positive impact on your kitchen!
11. Don’t put it down, put it away (one-touch rule)
This is a simple habit that can help prevent clutter and mess all over your house, but especially in the kitchen.
The idea is to only touch things once. When you’re done using something, instead of setting it down to put away later, aim to only touch it once. Putting it away as soon as you’re done using it.
Another way to think of it is: don’t put it down, put it away!
Getting in the habit of putting things away as soon as you’re done using them will go a long way towards keeping your kitchen (and home) organized and clutter-free. And even better, you won’t have to worry about picking up items again later!
And eventually, as you and your family learn to use the one-touch rule, you won’t even need a catch-all basket!
12. Have less stuff & declutter regularly
Of course, one of the easiest habits to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free is to have less stuff!
It’s a whole lot easier to get and stay organized when there’s simply less to organize and keep organized. Plus, when your cupboards and drawers aren’t stuffed full, it’s easy to find what you need, get it out and easily put it away.
Decluttering isn’t a ‘do it once and never again’ project though. Stuff has a way of creeping back into our homes, our needs and seasons of life change, etc. Regular decluttering sessions will keep your kitchen clutter-free after your hard work decluttering and getting organized to start with.
The good news is, once you’ve done a big declutter of your kitchen, regular maintenance decluttering sessions will be quick and easy.
You can plan to do maintenance decluttering sessions every so often. For example, once a month or as the seasons change. Or you can declutter as you go. Simply keep an eye out for anything you’re not using, loving or needing anymore and get rid of those things.
Regular maintenance decluttering sessions will ensure clutter never has a chance to build up again. Another great example of simple habits to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free!
13. Take baby steps
Any time you’re trying to form new habits and routines, remember to take baby steps. It’s hard to completely change a bunch of habits all at one time.
Instead, try adopting one or two new habits to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free at a time. Once you’ve got the first one or two habits down, add another one or two. This way you’ll be more likely to stick with them and avoid stressing yourself out.
Clearing the clutter is the first step towards creating an organized and clutter-free kitchen. Beyond that, developing simple habits and systems are great ways help maintain your organized and clutter-free kitchen.
What are your favourite habits to keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free? I’d love to hear about your habits, systems and routines that keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free! Share in the comments below!