Picture this: You walk into the kitchen and realize it’s a disaster zone. The cabinets are stuffed full of who knows what, the counters are cluttered and you spend several minutes every day trying to find something. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! In this post, I’ll walk you through the necessary steps to start your kitchen decluttering process.

If you’re looking for a guide to declutter your kitchen in one day, this is not it. There’s advice out there telling you to empty out every single cabinet and drawer in your kitchen (presumably so you can spot duplicate items).

You know what would happen if I emptied my entire kitchen? First, I wouldn’t have enough table top or counter space to do that. Second, I would end up with all of my items cluttering every single inch and then lose motivation to finish the job. And I’d probably end up living with the clutter for weeks, just moving the necessary items around to do a little bit of cooking. (Just being honest.)

Those “Go big or go home” guides work well for a lot of people. But if you’re like me and you lose motivation quickly or get distracted easily, this kitchen decluttering guide is for you.

Kitchen Decluttering Guide for Beginners

Get a garbage bag and a box.

The garbage bag is for trash and the box is for things to donate. Old cardboard boxes work great.

Find a clear space.

This could be your counter or your kitchen table. You might need make piles in another part of the house just so you can clear off your kitchen table. I get it. No shame in it, but just do what you gotta do to have a clear working space.

Pick a cabinet/drawer.

For the love of Pete, don’t pick the one with the most stuff in it or the most valuable stuff in it. Pick the one that is the easiest win, say a cabinet full of freebie cups or a small drawer.

When your kitchen is stuffed to the gills, you need those quick easy wins to move you forward. Pick the easiest area possible so you can feel like a BAMF. This’ll instill the confidence in you that yes, you can actually do this.

Pull everything out.

Empty out that cabinet or drawer and put all of the contents onto the table. This’ll make it easy for you to see just exactly what you have in order to know what to keep and what to get rid of.

Throw out the trash.

If you see any broken items or receipts you don’t need, throw them out. This is where you’ll start to build a decluttering muscle.

You know how people can be overweight and weak and after a year of going to the gym, they’re in the best shape of their lives? They didn’t build those muscles overnight. The same is true for your decluttering muscle.

You might feel the urge to keep broken items because “I was going to fix that,” even if it’s been sitting in your house broken for over two years. Ask yourself if you’re really going to fix it and be honest. Find a seperate box or bag for broken items that need to be fixed to go into. No need to keep them in your kitchen.

Items to donate go in the box.

Start with the easy items. You know, the ones that you didn’t even know you had and never really feel the need to use. Remember that starting with small wins can motivate you to bigger wins.

Don’t worry about counting items. While it can be nice in theory to keep only the cups necessary to get you from one wash cycle to the next, it makes initial decluttering a losing battle. It can be so hard to get rid of things you actually use (even if you don’t need 25 of them).

Return items you want to keep to the original cabinet.

You might notice that the cabinet doesn’t look at finished as you thought it would. In fact, it still looks a little cluttered.

Think of decluttering as removing the layers of an onion. You need to do this initial declutter to get rid of the things that are broken or never used. Once you’ve done this, you’ll start to notice more and more items that you could declutter.


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Move on to the next cabinet/drawer.

10:59 p.m. is not the time to start a new cabinet (unless you’re a night owl and this is when you get your surge of energy). Before moving onto the next area, make sure you have enough time and energy to complete the job (at least 1-2 hours).

Decluttering takes time!

I can’t say this enough. So often we want the quick fix, but when does that ever work? Don’t be hard on yourself if it seems like it’s taking forever. What you are doing through this process is reworking a lifetime of habits and that takes time.

Fix those broken items.

If you accumulated a box full of items that need to be fixed, come up with a plan as to when you’ll fix them. Don’t let them just sit in your kitchen for another two years. Start with the items that are easiest to fix (a broken handle that just needs to be glued, for instance).

Make it a goal to fix one item per week until you’ve made it through the box.

Give yourself a pat on the back.

Seriously, do it. You’re changing your life and the lives of the people who live with you. Small wins deserve to be celebrated.

So, go on ahead. Do a little jig. Eat a little ice cream. Look in the mirror at the awesome woman you are.

It may not be glamorous to take it one cabinet at a time, and it could take you weeks or even months, but that’s the point. Decluttering is not an item you check off your list and move on with your life. It’s a journey.

As long as items have the ability to come into your house, you will always be in the process of decluttering. (But take heart, it gets easier and once the initial decluttering is done, you won’t have to do this big of a project again as long as you keep up with it.)

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