In this post: Stressed out by a cluttered kitchen and don’t know where to start? Follow these 6 tips from a reformed hoarder to declutter and organize your kitchen.
I’m not the best cook, I’ll admit it.
One time I was on a healthy kick and made liver…for the first time…without a recipe. It was so bad even the dogs wouldn’t eat it.
Another time, I made a huge pot of chili in our pressure cooker. As I was moving the pot from the pressure cooker to the counter, I dropped it.
Chili covered the floor of our small, square kitchen, and the fall dented the pot permanently.
You could assume that since I don’t like to cook, I don’t have much clutter in my kitchen. You would be wrong.
I have muffin trays even though I never bake, fermenting jugs for making Kombucha (but never did), and popsicle molds (even though we end up buying them).
I don’t come here on the internet like some sort of expert who has everything all figured out. As long as you continue to bring stuff into your home, decluttering will be part of the process.
I struggled with having a cluttered kitchen until recently.
This is good news for you. I’m not writing about things I have never struggled with. If I can start off with hoarderish tendencies and completely declutter my kitchen, I know you can have a decluttered kitchen.
(Oh, and that pressure cooker that with the dented pot? I threw out the pot years ago because it was unusable…but I still have the pressure cooker — with no pot. 🤦♀️)
#1: What is Your Dream for Your Kitchen?
Before you dive into your cluttered kitchen and start throwing everything out, you need to know where you’re going.
Take a moment to sit back and dream for a bit. What would you do with a kitchen that isn’t cluttered?
Would you bake cookies with your kids? Maybe you’d use your clear kitchen table to help kids with homework, start an Etsy business or sit down with friends. Because…
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
This is something that the vast majority of decluttering methods miss. They’re so quick to give you all the strategies of what to get rid of first. But that’s missing the whole point.
The point is not for you to create a clutter free kitchen that looks exactly like mine or any of the perfect kitchens you see on social media. The goal is to create a kitchen that helps you reach your goals.
Here’s why you have to know your dream for your kitchen…
Let’s say your friend Sally loves to bake. She bakes about 2 dozen cookies every day to give to friends, family and her kids’ teachers.
The cookies that Sally likes to bake require her to make the dough, shape the cookies, then freeze them overnight.
As a result, Sally’s kitchen might look something like this:
- 6 cookie sheets
- 10 mixing bowls of various sizes
- 4 different mixing spoons
Sally’s oversized kitchen is always meticulously clean.
Sally’s friend Michelle loves to have quick meals on hand. Michelle’s goal is to only prepare meals once a month, which she freezes to eat at a later date.
Michelle never bakes cookies and rarely does anything fancy beyond throwing some meat and veggies into a freezer bag. She lives in a 1940s home with a small kitchen the size of a closet.
If Michelle were to take straight up advice from Sally, she’d find herself trying to shove 20 different baking supplies into her small kitchen cabinets.
That’s why it’s important to determine your dream for your kitchen and not just take someone’s blanket advice about how many spoons, forks and plates you should have.
We’re all different, and therefore what we need to keep in our kitchen will all be different.
You might like: Check out this article with 8 cluttered kitchens that still look good.
#2: Get Rid of Trash
Do you have a glass cup with a crack in it? Plastic containers without lids? Or ahem, a pressure cooker without a pot? 🙋♀️
Once you’re determined your dream for your kitchen, now it’s time to get to the strategy of cleaning up a cluttered kitchen. (If you skip over #1, now’s your chance to go back and read it. You won’t want to miss out.)
The very first thing we’re going to do is throw out trash. You’d be surprised how often we keep trash in our homes. Sometimes it’s the empty bread bag that no one threw out. Sometimes it’s things that are broken beyond repair.
Do a quick once over on your kitchen counter and cabinets. Throw out anything that is broken, missing pieces or straight up trash.
A note about throwing things away
For years, I had guilt about sending things to the landfill. I’m pretty eco conscious and I just hated the fact that I was adding to the problem. Here’s the deal…
Your home is not a landfill.
You deserve to live in a home filled by items you cherish, not one filled with trash. You wouldn’t move your family to the landfill…so don’t let the landfill move into your home.
When you buy, be conscious of the quality of items. Sure, they’re usually more expensive, but they last longer and will cut down on the amount of waste.
#3: Declutter Kitchen Items You Don’t Like
Your mom gave you a juicer you never use. Or you bought an orange oven mitt because it was on sale even though teal is your jam.
Whatever the case may be, get rid of stuff you don’t like. If they’re in good condition, find a thrift store or non-profit nearby that you can donate to.
I’m not saying you get rid of everything in your kitchen and go into debt to find spatulas that speak to you. Nah. Don’t do that.
But if you find yourself reaching for the green tongs because they work better than the blue tongs, get rid of the blue ones.
#4: Determine How Many Kitchen Items You Need
You remember back to the story of Sally and Michelle? Sally needed a ton of baking supplies because she loved to bake. Michelle didn’t.
Think through a typical month in your house. How many plates, bowls, spoons, etc. do you use between wash cycles?
How often do you use the one-use appliances (like a pressure cooker or a rice cooker)?
My recommendation is to keep what you need, plus a little extra.
Let’s say your family of five uses 5 plates every night for dinner. Since you run the dishwasher every other day, what you need is 10 plates. So maybe you keep 15.
The point is to account for times when things are crazy busy and you don’t wash the dishes for a few days. Or account for the times when you have guests over and want to make sure you have enough plates.
You don’t need to keep double of what you need…that will leave you with too much clutter and not enough space in the cabinets. But you also don’t want to be so pared down that any situation outside the ordinary causes stress.
#5: Peel the Layers of Clutter From Your Kitchen
Decluttering is a journey, not a one-time project. I know that many decluttering experts would have you believe that you can declutter your entire house in 30 days, but I’m here to tell you, no.
Not only is this an unrealistic expectation which leaves many people feeling like there’s something wrong with them (there’s not), but there’s also benefits to not decluttering fast.
Instead of decluttering your kitchen like you’re on a speed run game show, think of it like peeling the layers of an onion (without the crying…hopefully.😂😭)
First you’ll go through and get rid of all the obvious stuff (the trash and the stuff you hate). Then you’ll go though and get rid of the duplicates that are above and beyond what you need.
Every so often, you might go back to your kitchen and declutter a few more items (be sure to keep a donation box on hand).
Over time, your kitchen will become less and less cluttered until you get to a point where you are happy with the result.
You’ll know you’ve gotten to that point when you’re able to live out your dream for your kitchen (from step #1) without a ton of frustration getting in the way.
#6: Give Yourself Grace
Can I tell you something? You’re doing a great job.
For years, I struggled with the clutter in my kitchen, but worse than that was how I felt about myself. I thought that my cluttered kitchen meant that I was lazy or that I couldn’t get my act together. I wondered what was wrong with me.
If you feel that way, first off: there’s nothing wrong with you.
A cluttered kitchen is just that → a kitchen that has clutter.
Having a messy kitchen doesn’t mean anything about your value as a human being. It’s just the result of the habits you’ve had over the years. And that’s good news, because habits can change.
You don’t have to clean your kitchen so that you can be a good mom, good wife, good friend or overall good person. You already are.
Rather, give yourself grace (and a dang pat on the back) because you’re here to learn how to have a better home, and most people don’t do that. Most people sit around and complain but never step up to make a change.
And for that, I applaud you.
You’re doing a great job!
One of the best ways to make decluttering easier is to release all of the emotional weight that comes with clutter (which, I know, is easier said than done). As you go through and declutter your kitchen, don’t shame or judge yourself for past choices.
Hold the dream of what you’ll do with a decluttered kitchen. It will help you make decisions on what stays and what goes.
You can do this! If I, with my years of hoarderish habits can slowly turn my habits around to create the relatively clutter free home I live in today…
I know for certain that you can do it! ❤️