Today I’m excited to share with you a very helpful guest post by Marcio Benedetti of iQ Cleaning. His directions are so clear and easy to follow I think you’ll be cleaning out your kitchen in no time! 

Guest post by Marcio Bendetti

Simple Guide to a Clutter-Free Kitchen

Kitchens can be a natural haven for clutter. There’s always so much going on in the kitchen, from meal prep to socializing and eating. It only makes sense that we like to have lots of beautiful and fun things available in the kitchen to prepare delightful dishes for our loved ones.

Nevertheless all of the the kitchen tools, pantry items, dishes and silverware all tend towards a state of chaos. Rather than making it easier to find ingredients and prepare food, these kitchen items burst out in the most unexpected ways from cupboards, drawers, countertops, and refrigerators. While grabbing one item, several more fall out. Cereal spills all over the floor while baby and dog race to consume it. We reach for a pie cutter, only to be sliced by a knife. It takes us 10 minutes to find the milk in the fridge which is jammed full with cream cheese, leftover cake, and the remnants of the last holiday party.

When a guest or an in-law comes over, you pray desperately that they won’t need a reason to open the pantry or the refrigerator. You rummage around for 20 minutes trying to find that special tea cup that you saved just for guests, only to find yourself gridlocked by an army of cracked mugs with missing handles that you swore you would replace when you got around to it.

Decluttering: The Process

The answer to kitchen chaos is decluttering. Decluttering is not difficult, but it does take time, patience, and persistence. It doesn’t happen all at once, but is rather a process that allows you to keep the things that are useful and that you love, and let go of those things that clutter your kitchen space. You will find that for those who do go through the process, it will become easier to find things, prepare food, and your kitchen will become more beautiful.

Step One: Preparation

The first step is to decide whether you want to enlist the help of a decluttering companion, or whether it is better to work solo. Not just anyone can help with decluttering, and even the best of intentions can become an obstacle. Be very careful when picking your helper. I recommend skipping helpers if you can, unless you have someone truly willing and objective who won’t influence your decisions.

After this, the next step is to gather all the necessary tools for decluttering and prepare your workspace. Be sure to clear all the dishes out of the sink and/or the dishwasher. Clear all the counters and floors so you have a good workspace. Prepare a bucket full of warm soapy water and a wet rag to use for quickly cleaning dusty items. Grab several sturdy boxes and trash bags. Find a permanent marker and start labeling the boxes. Name the boxes ‘Put Away in the Kitchen’, ‘Put Away in Another Part of the House’, ‘Sell/Give Away’, and ‘Storage’. Anything else will go in the trash bags.

The hardest part of decluttering is figuring out where to start. You might be tempted to work on the whole kitchen at once, but resist the urge. You will end up maxed out on energy, with no visible results. Instead, try to conquer one space at a time as you go. Start with a space that has been the biggest problem for you. Do you have a drawer that drives you crazy every time you open it up and can’t find what you are looking for? What about a shelf with things stacked on top of other things?  Or do you have a dusty corner of the pantry that you’ve been avoiding working on because you would just rather not know what lies there, encased in a fine layer of dust? Tackling the problem spots first will give you a sense of accomplishment and renewed energy for working on other areas of the kitchen.

Lay the ground rules.

Before you get started, know your plan of attack. If you haven’t thought about why you would keep or toss an item, here are some rules that have helped many other people declutter their kitchens.

  1. An item has to be useful. Sometimes we buy kitchen gadgets thinking how great they would be in the kitchen. Then we discover over time that our dreams of becoming a gourmet bread chef conflicts with soccer and ballet season. We discover that as great as homemade pasta tastes, it might be decades before we ever sit down again and grind out homemade pasta from our wonderful set of pasta makers straight from Italy.
  2. If you don’t love it, toss it. This is the golden rule of decluttering. Above all else, keep only what you love. Do you have an ugly gnome on your kitchen shelf that you inherited from your lovely great aunt? Acknowledge your love for your aunt (and her great sense of humor), but let go of anything that makes you cringe. On the other hand, give due respect to those things you love by making room for them and putting them in their proper place.
  3. Time matters. How long have you had the objects in your kitchen? Do you have outdated food that just needs to be thrown away? Toss it. For items you have only used once in the past month, see rules #1 and #2. If you have only used it once in the last year, toss it with one exception. If it is an item that you use once a year for the holidays, such as baking cookies at Christmastime, keep it.

Ready, set, go!

Now you are ready to begin. Start at your chosen trouble spot and work your way around the kitchen top to bottom. Sounds pretty easy, right? The main goal is to clear up space in your kitchen before you start putting items back onto counters, shelves, drawers, and cupboards, etc. If you have something that you want to keep in the kitchen put it in the ‘Put Away in the Kitchen’ box. Items that you want to keep, but not in the kitchen, can be placed in the ‘Put Away in Another Part of the House’ box. Anything that you want to get rid of, but still has possible value can be put in the ‘Sell/Give Away’ box. Don’t worry about sorting between items to donate and sell just yet. That can happen later, after you’ve finished decluttering. Anything else that you just can’t decide what to do with can be put in the ‘Storage’ box. Anything that is broken or expired can be thrown in the trash bags.

Wipe down every counter, drawer, and cupboard to remove dust and dirt. Wipe off the dust from every object with your rag and soapy bucket. Take the box of ‘Put Away in the Kitchen’ things and one by one put these items back. Decide whether to keep them in the same place or try a new spot. With so much new space available, you may find better spots to store your kitchen items.

Next take your ‘Put Away in Another Part of the House’ box and place the items in the rooms where they belong for now. Later, as you clean other rooms, you can find room for them. For now, find a good spot to put the items in for each room.

Pick up your ‘Sell/Give Away’ items and place them in a garage, closet or other storage areas. These can be sorted at your convenience a different day. You can try to sell your stuff online if it has a high value, or give it to friends and family. Is there a local charity that could really use some kitchen appliances? Or maybe a local thrift store? You can also even consider holding a garage sale to make extra money from those kitchen items you no longer need.

Take out the trash bag and place it in the trash. Doesn’t that feel good?

The ‘Storage’ box can be placed in a closet or other storage area. These items were a point of indecision for you, so you don’t want to take any immediate action. Rather, give them some time, maybe about six months. Revisit this box later and see if you still feel attached to these items. If you don’t give them away or toss them. Otherwise, find a home for it somewhere in your house.

Now go celebrate. You deserve it. And enjoy that lovely uncluttered kitchen.

About the Author

One could say Marcio Benedetti is a bit of a “cleanfreak”. His passion for cleaning and helping others find the joy of cleaning led him to build a business out of it. Today, he is the proud owner of iQ Cleaning – a maid and house cleaning company based in Washington, D.C. When he’s not working or out helping his team, he can likely be found blogging, reading, cooking, or spending time with his family.