Decluttering your kitchen starts with a donate box like this.

Declutter Your Kitchen, Declutter Your Life

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I’m a firm believer in the saying that physical clutter creates mental clutter. When my environment is cluttered, messy, or disorganized – I just feel off. My kitchen is often one of the main areas where clutter tends to accumulate. It’s not too late for a ‘new year new me’ style kitchen decluttering day to completely change your kitchen – and your life.

Seriously, how many receipts do I really need stuffed into a kitchen drawer? The answer is zero.

How Do I Get Rid Of Clutter In My Kitchen?

Decluttering your kitchen can feel overwhelming but it’s easier than you might think! You can totally do this!

  • Start Small: Begin with one area at a time, like a junk drawer or cutting boards only, to avoid feeling overwhelmed and giving up before you’ve felt the benefits.
  • Be Decisive: Let go of items you haven’t used in a while or that are taking up unnecessary space. Be ruthless, but also practical!
  • Keep Essentials Handy: Store frequently used items within easy reach and reserve higher or lower cabinets for less-used items.
  • Simplify: Streamline your kitchen tools and appliances, keeping only the essentials. Look for multipurpose options to save space.
  • Stay Consistent: Make it a habit to maintain your organized kitchen by putting things back in their designated spots after each use.

How Do I Start Decluttering My Kitchen?

To get started, get yourself in the right mental space. Give yourself permission to toss or donate obligatory items.

I’m talking about the Belgian waffle maker gifted to you at your wedding (but you’re more of a pancake girlie). Or that ‘set’ of three mismatched muffin tins handed down to you by a well-intentioned relative when you got your first place. Or the aspirational icing piping tips set you bought five years ago and never actually opened. You get the idea.

If you’ve never actually used these things, or they’re past their prime, or they cause you any stress at all…

I hereby give you permission to donate or toss these items. 

A carboard box with the word 'donate' written on it sits on a kitchen countertop.

If that’s too scary, get two boxes; label one donate and one trash. Put the appropriate items in the boxes and write a date on them. The date can be 1 month out or 6 months out. But when that date hits – and you still haven’t needed those things – they go. I promise you will feel better once you clear the clutter.

When Stuck, Ask Yourself Three Questions

As you declutter, work quickly and go with your gut. If you feel stuck, channel your inner Marie Kondo and ask yourself these important questions:

  • Do I use this regularly? (Note: this question is not will I maybe use this someday.)
  • Do I genuinely love this item?
  • Would I buy this today?

These questions will help you make tough decisions and ensure that you’re only keeping what truly matters. Don’t let thoughts like “I might need this one day” or “I can just fix this” keep you stuck in clutter. Be brave!

Declutter Your Kitchen Item By Item

As you tackle each area, keep a list of items to replace / upgrade. For example: a stainless steel skillet for your flakey teflon one.

The Fridge Front

Your fridge doesn’t have to be a conglomerate of menus, magnets, and save-the-dates. Clearing your fridge front is one of the most impactful things you can do to clear the clutter! 

Move important info like weddings and sports schedules to your calendar, and toss out menus (That info is online) and magnets that are no longer needed.

That huge space that was once filled with all the things is now clean and clear. And unlike your nephew’s t-ball schedule that’s half covered by a bday party invite – your Gcal will notify you of upcoming events.

Condiment Packets

I know you’re hoarding those Chick-fil-A sauce packets too. It’s time to declutter these mini condiment hoards and make space for items you’ll actually use. We both know we won’t actually use those dozen random sauce packets. 

This also applies to those little salt and pepper packets, restaurant silverware, and whatever else is clogging up that section of your junk drawer.

Promotional Swag

That water bottle from your friend’s cousin’s 5k you participated in, the novelty cup from the girls’ trip last summer, or the sporting event ‘free refills’ plastic mug aren’t really that sentimental or useful, right?

If you don’t actively use it, it should go. Especially any older plastic pieces that may be made with BPA which is known to cause health issues.

Plasticware Missing Lids

The eternal mystery of disappearing plastic container lids. Seriously where do they go? I’m sure there is an alternate dimension full of all my lost plastic lids, lip balms, and bobby pins. Take the time to empty out your cabinet or drawer that holds your plasticware. 

Match everything up and part ways with any orphaned containers and lids. You won’t use them without their counterpart, and digging through a mountain of mismatched pieces when you’re trying to save some leftovers (to throw away in three days, rather than tonight) is no one’s idea of chill. 

Also, consider replacing your plastic storage containers with glass ones.

Rough Cutting Boards 

A good cutting board is essential for any home chef, but if yours is looking scratched, warped, or worse for wear, it’s time to let it go. 

Warped and scratched cutting boards.

Melted Cooking Utensils

Cooking utensils are the unsung heroes of the kitchen, but if yours are melting or broken, they’re not doing you any favors. Say goodbye to the utensils that have seen better days and make space for ones that will stand up to the heat of the kitchen – like these silicone ones!

Unused and Extra Cookware

Cookware takes up some serious retail space. While there’s no one true basic set of pots and pans, think about what your personal go-to basics are. And which pans rarely if ever get used. 

Decluttering your cookware will have an immediate and noticeable impact on your storage space.

Non-Stick Pans 5+ Years Old

Special shout out to nonstick pans that max out at 5 years. While non-stick pans are a kitchen staple for many (although I would tell you to switch to stainless steel or ceramic options) but if yours are scratched, starting to chip or flake, or are more than 5 years old it’s well past time to bid them farewell. 

Not only are these pans shedding all over your cabinets and dishwasher – they are quite literally harmful to your health. No one wants eggs with a sprinkling of PTFEs for breakfast. 

Rusty Bakeware

Similar to flaking nonstick pans, rusted bakeware is past its prime and should be replaced. Give that muffin tin or sheet pan a good scrub with some baking soda and if you can’t get it sparkling clean, it’s time for a replacement. Go with stainless steel options that won’t rust.

Cracked Tableware

Cracked dishes and glasses may seem harmless at first glance, but they pose a risk of shattering at the worst possible moment – and harboring bacteria. 

Damaged crockery and glassware should be demoted to ‘decoration-only’ or tossed to make space for pieces that are both beautiful and functional.

Expired Spices

I’ll put paprika in almost anything, but some of my other spices are quite literally collecting dust. I’m sure some of them have expired. In fact, the pumpkin pie spice mix has been around longer than I’ve been married.

Although expired spices won’t harm you, they likely have lost their flavor over time. Meaning if you aren’t measuring with your heart, your dishes may be lacking a bit of flavor. 

Take the time to go through your spice collection and identify any long-expired ones that need replacing. If there’s a spice you never use, just don’t replace it – you’ll free up some extra space in your cabinet.

A spice jar of thyme that expired in October 2021

Extra Coffee Mugs

A mug collection can multiply quickly. And while the touristy souvenir mug from your trip to the West Coast deserves its place in your cabinet, the random-company-logo one you picked up with the last work conference swag bag really just … doesn’t.

To clear the clutter remove all your mugs from the cabinet and decide one-by-one if you truly really love and need each one. Then donate the rest.

If just reading that last part made you recoil in horror, consider displaying your favorite mugs on a wall shelf, or freestanding display while moving the lesser-used options to a less conspicuous space. 

Consider boxing up the rejects and donating them if you don’t miss them in 1,3, or 6 months (whatever you’re comfortable with.)

Holiday Specific Items

I love nothing more than sipping my Peppermint Mocha Creamer With Coffee out of my gingerbread house mug. But that doesn’t mean that it belongs in the kitchen cabinet 365 days a year. 

Pack up seasonal mugs with your holiday decorations, to bring them out seasonally – freeing up that precious kitchen space. 

Unused Small Appliances

I’m very pro small appliances. I used my quesadilla maker almost daily. However, I didn’t even know I owned a waffle maker until we were packing up our kitchen to move. 

If you struggle to part with appliances you believe you’ll eventually use, consider adopting the two-year rule. If you’ve owned the appliance for two years or more without using it once in the past 24 months, it’s probably time to donate it.

Unused Specialty Cookware

That tortilla press or meatloaf pan you picked up but have never (or rarely) used would be happier rehomed than collecting dust in the back corner cabinet. And you’d have space for things you actually use. 

We’ve all purchased aspirational pieces – but this is a time to be honest with yourself. If you really want to be That Girl and make homemade tortillas, go with the Two Year Rule. 

This also applies to ‘things I once used but haven’t in so so long’. I have an apple peeler-corer-slicer tool that has been taking up space, unused for at least 5 years that I’ll be donating. 

Unused Specialty Tools

So you got really into homemade pasta making after that last vacation – for a month. Now you’ve got half a drawer full of gadgets you don’t use. Whatever your pasta stamp equivalent is, donate it. Make room for tools you will use.

Duplicate Gadgets

Every kitchen needs a few stirring spoons and spatulas – but do you really need two microplane graters + the wonky bonus one? Choose your best / favorite option and donate the rest.

Cookbooks and Magazines

One of my personal favorite life hacks of all time was making a recipe binder. It’s a simple three-ring binder with clear sleeves to hold all my favorite recipes – organized by type of course. 

Because I’m Type A organized I typed out all my favorites in a giant Google doc and printed them out but you can easily scan or photograph and print out recipes. 

  • If you have favorite or sentimental cookbooks consider displaying them as kitchen decor. 
  • If you haven’t opened them in more than a year it’s time to let them go.
  • If you only have a few favorite recipes, copy them to your binder or take a photo of the page.
  • If you subscribe to food and recipe magazines, tear out the recipes you like for the binder.
Detail of the tabs on a recipe binder - readable tabs include sides, apps, and desserts.

Tattered Oven Mitts & Kitchen Towels

Kitchen towels and oven mitts with damage or stains belong in the rag bin or donated to your local animal shelter (the towels obviously). 

Flower Vases

Many floral arrangements come in basic glass vases. With enough special occasions, you can end up with quite a collection before you know it. Choose a couple favorites and give away extra vases to friends with wildflower bouquets or simply box them up to donate.

Duplicate Cleaning Supplies

Do you really need five different types of all-purpose cleaner? Probably not. Ditch the excess cleaning supplies cluttering up your cabinets and make space for a streamlined selection of essentials that will make cleaning a breeze.

Junk Drawer

While I’ve heard that an official ‘junk drawer’ is an exclusively Midwestern thing, I’m willing to bet you have a junk drawer or at least a junk basket where the tiny clutter items gather (and multiply). 

Clear out the old receipts, take out menus, and dried-out pens to make room for things you actually use. Pick up some organizational tools like drawer dividers or drawer organizers to keep everything in a dedicated spot.

Medicine & Vitamins

As someone who is no longer a ‘youth’ I have a few meds and vitamins in my ‘junk drawer’ … along with a bottle of ibuprofen. A kitchen drawer is a perfect spot for meds and such as it tends to be cool, dark, and dry. And next to the water you need to take said meds. 

Check that all meds are up to date, labeled correctly, and stored safely.

Expired Anything

That jar of marshmallow fluff from 2016 that’s somehow still on the shelf has met its end. Don’t risk food poisoning to save a few bucks on expired anything. When in doubt: throw it out.

Broken Anything

We all have that wonky pizza cutter (guilty!) or the toaster that only toasts on one side. It’s time to bid farewell to these broken pieces. Not only do they clutter up your space, but they also cause stress with their lack of functionality. Saying goodbye to the broken tools makes room for ones that actually work. 

If you haven’t fixed it yet, it’s time to let it go. You deserve to have functional items.

A warped pizza cutter.

Declutter Your Kitchen Deep Dive

Pantry  

Take a thorough inventory of your pantry, fridge, and cabinets, and discard any items that have passed their expiration date. If you have unopened items you won’t use, donate them to a food pantry

Check oils to make sure they haven’t turned rancid. Oils can become rancid over time, especially if they’re exposed to heat, light, or air. Pay attention to any off smells or changes in color or consistency. If anything is off, toss it.

While canned goods generally have a long shelf life, it’s still important to check their expiration dates periodically. 

Fridge & Freezer

Monthly, look for any freezer-burned foods or mystery items in your freezer to be tossed. Check your fridge for expired or duplicate condiments and leftovers that need thrown out. 

A decluttered and organized sheet pan collection in an open cabinet

Small Changes, Big Results

Decluttering your kitchen doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Take it one step at a time, and you’ll be amazed at the transformation. Whether you’re clearing out your mug collection or banishing expired spices, every small change adds up to a clutter-free kitchen you’ll love.

About Author

TiaGoodnight

Hey! I'm Tia, and I started this site to bring you the best information on all things kitchen so you can enjoy and elevate your everyday life.

I love trying new techniques and tools, living for the thrill of pulling off a new skill. On weekends you'll find me at the local farmer's markets or hosting friends and family for an evening of yard or card games and delicious food.

If you're looking for honest, real-world advice on all things kitchen and cooking, you're in the right place!