Despite your best intentions and your commitment to purchasing only the best top-notch cleaning supplies, one area of your once-tidy living space that’s likely in need of a serious deep-clean is your kitchen. Thanks to regular meal prep and daily crumb accrual, it’s the one room in your home that could use a little TLC — tender loving clutter control, that is. A neat kitchen allows you to cook more efficiently and clean up quickly, so you never lose five minutes hunting for the corkscrew or ice cream scoop again.
If you’re struggling to get a grasp on uncontrollable kitchen clutter, consider it handled with these nine tidy-up tricks.
1. Take inventory.
Pull everything out of the cupboards (yes, every. single. thing.) and place it all on your kitchen table or carefully on the floor. Sort items into groups, creating a loose hierarchy based on how often you use each thing. And be honest with yourself: You don’t get extra points for pretending that you actually use that manual juicer if Simply Orange is your morning staple.
2. Donate or toss.
Evaluate each item. If you have three identical frying pans, donate one. Discard anything that is broken and can’t be repaired or is missing key parts, like a pot without a handle, which is quite possibly the most useless object on the face of the earth.
3. Put objects away in sensible places.
When it’s time to put everything back, choose what should go where. Keep frequently used cookware and appliances immediately on hand. Stow things you use only now and then, like muffin tins and cookie sheets, in a less accessible cabinet. Move items you use once a year, like a roasting pan for turkey, out of the kitchen altogether — that is, if you have storage space elsewhere.
4. Organize items by type.
Pots and pans should be grouped by kind and placed one inside the other, from smallest to largest, like nesting dolls. If you have room, it’s best to keep lids on their pots; otherwise arrange lids from smallest to largest and keep their partners close by.
5. Make recycling efficient.
Having a bin for bottles and cans right next to the one for regular trash instead of by the back door streamlines cleanup.
6. Organize under the sink.
Start by throwing out anything rusted, crusted, congealed or of unknown origin. If it’s an absolute eyesore down there, consider installing a pull-out trash can on gliders as well as door attachments to hold sponges, brushes, plastic wrap and aluminum foil. It makes an almost miraculous difference. At the very least, corral cleaning products and supplies on one side of the cabinet in a plastic caddy.
7. Arrange flatware for efficiency.
Use drawer dividers and utensil trays (large enough to accommodate oversize pieces) to keep your kitchen accoutrements in order.
8. Rearrange the fridge.
Believe it or not, it matters where you put things. Perishable foods should go at the bottom and toward the back, not on the door. The lower shelf, which is coldest, is best for dairy products. Produce stays fresher in a crisper drawer. Use the shelves on the door to store bottled food and condiments.
9. Organize the freezer.
Consider making designated sections for frozen foods (entrees, veggies and sides, desserts), and use dividers, baskets or multilayer ice caddies to keep everything neat and accessible. Be sure to label any reusable containers so that you don’t mistakenly thaw out turkey chili thinking it’s apple cobbler.
(Real Simple magazine provides smart, realistic solutions to everyday challenges. Online at www.realsimple.com.)
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