How to Organize Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers for Good
First, empty your cabinets and lose what you don’t use. Then follow these steps to keep your kitchen organized.
- Empty cabinets and drawers, including pantry food items.
- Sort the cabinet contents by what you want to keep, what to throw away or recycle and what to donate.
- Thoroughly clean all the surfaces of your cabinets and drawers.
- Group all the items you’re going to store in your kitchen by category.
- Plan to place items near where they’ll be used.
- Add baskets, shelf inserts, cabinet racks and any new storage solutions you want to use to keep your kitchen cabinets organized.
- Return everything to cabinets and drawers, prioritizing items by use.
- Enjoy your clean, organized kitchen.
“Physically handling each item forces you to make decisions about keeping, donating or discarding,” says Karen Duncan, a certified professional organizer out of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
The contents of your kitchen cabinets, like many storage cabinets around the house, are likely filled with items that you use often, but they’re also likely filled with even more items that you use rarely, if ever.
Give yourself permission to let go of those unused items. Donate or give away what you can, recycling or throwing out anything you can’t, such as expired pantry items.
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Now that your cabinets are empty, spend some time getting them really clean before you fill them back up. Wash all surfaces thoroughly with gentle soap and water and allow them to dry completely before restocking. For an extra level of polish, and to make future cleaning easier, you can also add shelf or drawer liners, or replace old ones.
How to Clean Your Kitchen Cabinets
“Think of your kitchen as functional zones: washing, prepping, cooking on stovetop and baking,” Duncan says.
Group the items or tools you use for each of those tasks together for efficiency. In the pantry, this means grouping food types by category: cooking, baking, snacks and breakfast, or whichever grouping technique works best for your lifestyle.Know the 3 Zones of Kitchen Storage
In the panty, place the foods that you use most often in the easiest-to-reach places. (One possible exception: “If you think you eat too many snacks, put those up high so you don’t see them as often, and it’s more of a to-do to get them,” says Tori Cohen, an organizing and decluttering specialist in New York City.)
While you’re working out what to store in each cabinet or drawer, Duncan suggests placing temporary labels made of blue painters tape on the cabinet or drawer where each group is going. This will help you get a sense of how your storage plan is shaping up and simplify making adjustments as you go.
Roll-out shelves. Extra-deep lower cabinets benefit from roll-out shelves, either custom-made or purchased from a kitchen or organizing store. The shelves will allow you to easily see the cabinet’s entire contents — even what’s at the very back.
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The dowels can be moved to accommodate the size of whatever you want to store in the drawer. (Depending on your drawer’s construction, the bottom may need to be reinforced for heavy dishes.)
“Shelves are great for taller and odd-shaped items, since shelves tend to be adjustable,” Duncan says. Drawers can be useful for everyday items, including kitchen tools and cutlery. Deep drawers can also be used for baking supplies and pots and pans.
- Declutter frequently.
- Purchase multiuse items, rather than specialty tools.
- Designate an alternate closet for overflow items.
- Consider a portable prep cart with storage underneath.
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