Decluttering the kitchen is one of those projects that’s always on the ‘some day’ list. So do it today. Take an hour, get rid of the biggest offenders and learn what you can do to keep things from ever getting out of hand again.
Strange kitchen magnets
Ask yourself: Does that freebie magnet you got from the local taxi firm bring me joy? If not, why are you letting it clutter up your fridge? If you need a magnet, consider printing out a family photo on sticker paper and covering the magnet with it.
Unused, weirdly sentimental mugs
Mugs are the cucumber-melon body lotion of the cooking world: they’re the go-to gift when you have no idea what to get someone, and they naturally start to pile up. Harden your heart and assume that horrible mug your friend’s mother-in-law gave you was a regift—and toss it. Most people don’t need more than six, Driskill says.
Reusable shopping bags
We know this sounds daft, getting rid of something that’s designed to be eco-friendly, but most people own way more bags than they need. Hold on to a maximum of 10 and donate the rest. Then move the ones you keep to the boot of your car, where you’re more likely to use them, Driskill says. We can’t be the only ones who get to the supermarket and realise our canvas bags are tucked away in a cupboard at home.
Anything that came for free with your dinner
Spare chopsticks, soy sauce packets, kids meal toys—you’re always going to get more the next time you order, so there’s no point stockpiling them, Driskill says.
Your insane plastic container collection
This may just be the single biggest cause of cabinet avalanches. Limit yourself to just two sizes of reusable containers, says Nonnahs Driskill, the declutter guru behind Get Organized Already. Instead, try to stick to five to six pieces in each size. That way you’re not fighting to find the right lid for each tub.
While the USDA’s research group found that microwaving a damp sponge eliminates 99.9998 percent of germs, if your sponge smells, you should throw it out.
Spare Kitchen Knives
Most professional chefs get by with just three to five knives, Driskill says, and she recommends that people stick to the same number. Chances are, you rarely use more than a paring knife, serrated knife, and chef’s knife.
The tea towels and cloths you use for everything
Hand towels are most commonly contaminated surface in the kitchen, according to a March 2015 study from Kansas State University. What’s worse, salmonella can continue to grow on cloths overnight, even after they were washed and rinsed in the sink. Researchers recommend designating one cloth for washing, one tea towel for drying, and sending both through the washing machine daily (especially if you’ve been cooking meat). If you’ve been using one towel to do everything, throw it out and grab a new one.
One-off appliances you swore you’d use
Pasta makers, milk frothers, bread machines – cookery shops are loaded with drool-worthy gadgets that only serve one purpose. If it’s taking up precious counterspace and you use it less than four times a year, it’s probably worth binning or taking to the charity shop – especially if there’s an everyday object that can get the job done just as well. You might be surprised what your gadgets are worth on eBay.
Tinned food that looks not quite right
It goes without saying that anything that’s expired should be binned, but you should also throw out any tinned foods that are rusted or have dents big enough that you could stick your finger in them.
If you’ve owned it for over a year and haven’t made a single thing, it’s probably time to consider selling – unless it’s a family heirloom or other treasured item, in which case, move it to your living room bookshelves or repurpose as a coffee table book.
Front of fridge door clutter
Treat the front of your fridge like a command centre, Driskill recommends. Place anything you need a daily reminder of there, like to-do lists, torn-out recipes and forms that need to be signed or addressed, and as you cross each one off your to-do list, remove it from the fridge. Better yet, take everything off the fridge and move your command centre to the inside of a kitchen cupboard door. When the cabinets are closed, those papers are out of view.
Recipes you’re saving for ‘some day’
If you tore it out of a magazine more than a month ago and you haven’t made it yet, you’re not going to make it. And that’s okay.
You only need one per person, and maybe one to two extra, Driskill says. For the rest: clean them out and donate or recycle them.