Is your kitchen is the most difficult room to keep clean and organized? I feel like I struggle with my kitchen at times — and I have my own place. I can only imagine what it’s like keeping the kitchen in top shape while kids scavenge for snacks, a partner digs for a late dinner, and dishes, crumbs, and clutter shoot up like sunflowers.
Luckily, there are some time-tested strategies to keep a kitchen cleaned and organized. Let’s continue our spring cleaning series with some tips to help you maximize storage, clear clutter, stay organized, and maintain your sanity.
Keeping your kitchen clean this spring (and beyond)
1. Improve efficiency. First, ID what you use most and where you store those items. The big spoons and spatulas that you use everyday should be in a drawer within reach of the stove, not stored across the kitchen. Same goes for potholders, knives, cutting boards, etc. You want all of your tools concentrated where you actually do your meal preparation.
Oh, and that stuff you don’t use? Get a clean, firm cardboard box and move these items to a storage unit. You now have back-ups.
2. Maximize Storage. A huge, open cupboard can be a blessing, but also a waste of vertical space. Consider purchasing or constructing shelving to store things like cookie sheets, griddles, and lids.
Out-of-the-way storage spaces, like top shelves or, in a pinch, the top of the refrigerator, are ideal for seasonal or lesser-used items. Holiday trays, champagne flutes, your fondue maker — top-shelf material. It’s a shame that fondue maker is such a pain to clean, because it would be nice to break that out more often.
If you have a small kitchen, these items are also prime candidates for a trip to your self storage facility. Don’t let seasonal items devour your in-home storage — that’s one of my cardinal rules of home organization.
Whether stored in your kitchen or your storage unit, remember to wash and inspect these items methodically before putting them away. You don’t want to put crumb-covered, greasy, or otherwise dirty items away — it’s like an open buffet invitation for unwelcome guests from the animal kingdom.
3. Consider open shelving. Open shelving is a big kitchen storage trend this year. Showcase your everyday dishes while mixing in with decorative (yet functional) items like cookbooks, gourmet olive oils, and flowers (nice touch, yes?). Make sure you give these shelves a good wipe-down at least once a month to address dust, grease, or grime issues.
I mentioned this in a previous blog post, but if you have an appliance you don’t use — slow cooker, bread maker, deep fryer, etc. — put that item in self storage. You want the device available when you have the time and inclination. In the meantime, it’s just taking up space.
4. Keep your day-to-day activities organized. Since the kitchen is often the heart of the home, it makes sense to turn the room into central command. Mount a color-coded schedule on the wall or refrigerator. Use chalkboard paint and a frame to create a to-do list. Add a mail sorting slot near a recycling bin to keep junk mail, catalogs, and bills sorted.
5. Scrub that fridge. When was the last time you cleaned your refrigerator? If you have to think in terms of months, it’s been too long.
You probably have shared a refrigerator at your workplace that gets a little, well, gross because no one wants to clean it out. Do you want that to happen to the fridge in your home? No way.
Take about an hour once every two weeks to really clean out your refrigerator. Stash your food in a cooler while you clean.
Start by taking everything out of the fridge, and then:
- Check expiration dates on items like dairy products, sauces and condiments
- Wipe down any drips and spills (this should be a daily habit)
- Remove shelving and wipe down with a baking soda and hot water mix (the baking soda helps clean while eliminating odor)
- Store perishable food in plain view to promote quick usage
- Clear crisper drawers are the best spot for produce
- The bottom shelf, where the temperature is coldest, is best for milk, eggs, and meat
Remember — creating a daily routine for kitchen organization is key. Take time as a family to put items back where they belong. Wipe down the oven, sink, and counters after usage.
And get the gang together to make a batch of cookies once in a while. That’s a kitchen chore everyone can enjoy.
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