Decluttering

How to Declutter your Kitchen For Good (+ save money and reduce waste!)



Decluttering is a super popular action these days – especially with the Marie Kondo show on Netflix at the start of 2019.

I also think that people just started coming to the conclusion that their stuff was starting to own them – taking their time and energy away from the things that really matter.

And what is the best way to combat this? Reduce, of course!

Can you relate?

Yes?

So how do you begin?

There are many different ways to declutter, and no way is the end all be all method. Maybe you find Marie Kondo’s method of going by different categories or items works for you. Or maybe you’re like me and find that going room by room, closet by closet, and drawer by drawer works best.

Maybe you find that it’s easier to get rid of items based on whether you use them, versus if the item brings you joy (and vice versa). Or maybe you’re a little of both.

Whatever way you do it, the most important thing is that you get the job done.

And to help you do that, today, I am giving you all the tips that my family and I used to declutter over 140 large boxes of items (and sold/gave away countless more) – specifically – for the kitchen.



The kitchen may seem like an overwhelming area to work through, but my family and I found that it really helped to break it down into small areas. This made it not only manageable but doable!

One of the main things I recommend when starting to declutter is to be prepared.

TIP: First, I want you to gather six bags/boxes/piles and label them with the following categories:

  • 6 boxes/bags/piles:
    • keep
    • give away to friends/family
    • donate
    • trash
    • move
    • sell


Having these ready to go makes it a lot easier to keep track of what you are doing, and less likely to get overwhelmed. It also can help to track your progress and keep you motivated by seeing all the things you are giving away/selling.


TIP: The second thing I always recommend is to have a plan for where the particular piles/bags/boxes are going to go. Make sure you have specific people or places for the following categories:

  • give away (to whom)
  • donate (where to)
  • sell (where?)


Knowing this ahead of time gives you fewer excuses to keep the items (trust me, I told myself all the excuses in the past), and allows you to DO SOMETHING WITH THE ITEMS as soon as you declutter, so they don’t just become clutter in another area of your house.

If you are in need of some ideas on where to give away/donate/sell particular items, I have compiled a giant list of places in my post on how to declutter and stay eco-friendly. The idea is to actually do something with the items so they don’t end up in the landfill. That post will show you how!


Now, let’s get started in the kitchen!

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Dishes and Silverware


This is an area where you may need to get real about how many items you actually use. Think of your pain points in the kitchen. Is it that you feel like you are constantly doing dishes and they quickly become a source of pointless disagreements with your partner? Hmm, just me?


My husband and I constantly felt like we were doing dishes, yet when I actually stopped to look at the dishes we used, we always pulled our ‘favorites’ first!

To help combat this, we tried going really minimal and assigning each family member their own plate and bowl that they were responsible for and packing away the rest. It worked for a little while, but quickly became a pain. Instead, I pulled out enough dishes for us to each have ‘two’ sets, and kept the rest put away. This seemed to be the sweet spot for us.

TIP: Figure out your pain points, and come up with some possible solutions. It doesn’t have to be permanent!

Take out all of your cups, glasses, mugs, plates, bowls, and silverware and sort into your bags/boxes and do the following:

  • Look for excess items. Be honest. How many coffee mugs do you actually use, for example? And don’t you usually grab the same 1-2 each time that are your favorite?
  • If you’re nervous about getting rid of too much, you can always pack some away in a box, set a reminder on your phone for 3 months time, and then check in after that. But be sure to actually check in! Otherwise you’re not getting rid of the clutter, you’re just moving it.
  • If you have a lot of place settings because you like to host, is there another area you can keep some of the extras so it’s not cluttering up your everyday cabinets?
  • Are there items that drive you nuts (I definitely had some items in the kitchen like this – and why was I keeping them)? Think – that spoon that just doesn’t sit right in your hand, the mug that has a weird handle, etc). Consider passing them along.


Tips to further reduce clutter, save money, and/or reduce waste:

  • Don’t purchase anything new if you don’t need it. I use the ‘one item in, one item out’ rule to help with this. Meaning, if I bring in an item, I have to find one to get rid of.
  • If you do need something, consider purchasing second hand. This is such a great way to save money and reduce waste. And there certainly aren’t shortages of kitchen ware at secondhand stores!




Small Appliances

Oh, small appliances! You know what I’m talking about. This would be things including a toaster, bread maker, blender, juicer, ice cream maker…whatever hot item is popular this year.


Tips for decluttering small appliances:

  • What items do you use regularly? This is the key word here. If it’s been a year and you have to dust off the top when you pull out your bread maker, maybe it’s time to gift or donate.
  • What items can be used for multiple purposes? For example, my family and I had a toaster and a toaster oven in addition to our stove/oven. My husband and I decided that we could use our oven for anything those two items could, and we gave them away. Same with our microwave. I can honestly say we haven’t missed them! Figure out if there is anything you can combine ‘uses’ for to eliminate clutter and free up space.
  • Many small appliances can be sold second hand, so if there are any you don’t need anymore, try selling it first!

Tips to further reduce clutter, save money, and/or reduce waste:

  • If you have broken appliances, make sure they are recycled properly. Here are some options:
    • See if your city/garbage hauling company has an appliance recycling day
    • See if your local recycling center accepts broken appliances
    • Depending on the appliance, Best Buy accepts certain items
    • Post the item for free on your local Buy Nothing group, Freecycle group, Craigslist, local neighborhood group, or Facebook marketplace. Sometimes people look for parts in broken appliances and can use them, use them for props, or other art/craft items.
    • Check with a local salvage yard
  • If you need a new appliance, consider looking second-hand. There are SO many nice small appliances at secondhand shops and garage sales (or on any of the secondhand sites mentioned above)
  • Don’t buy a new fad gadget just to have it. Try borrowing one from a friend, neighbor, or family member first to see if you like it. Be honest about how much you’ll use it.
  • Appliance share with a friend, family member, or neighbor. Want to make your own ice cream? Is there a friend/family member close by that also wants one? Could you share one and take turns using it?





Storage Containers

Dun dun dun…the dreaded storage containers and lids. I know, I know. I can hear the groans from here. I’ll be honest, this category can be a pain in the butt. It’s tedious and annoying. But you know what is even more annoying (at least to me?) TRYING TO FIND A LID AND CONTAINER COMBO when you’re in a rush to pack your lunch before heading out the door to work.

Seriously. Where do all the lids go?

Tips for decluttering storage containers:

  • First, this is a great task to involve kids if that applies to you. You can put on some tunes and work together to find lids and containers.
  • Pull out all the lids and all the containers, and start matching them up. My three-year-old son loves helping with this.
  • Once you’ve done this, I recommend setting aside the lidless containers and the containerless lids in separate bags, which I *gasp* store for about a week. This is in case any lids or containers turn up that I can match up after a few days.
  • After a week or so has passed, I try and find ways to use the containers without lids for organizing, gardening, cooking, eating, snacks, etc.
  • The lids I have tried offering up on local buy nothing groups, and have gotten a few hits, but mostly I end up having to throw them away.
  • After you’ve sorted out the misfits, for the containers you have with lids, evaluate whether or not you need all of them. Do you use all of them? Or do some get shoved in the back of the cupboard and forgotten? Are there some you always end up grabbing over others? Consider donating or giving away any if you have extra. Be honest here! My family uses quite a bit of storage containers, especially since we rarely use plastic bags to store anything, and we freeze quite a bit of food as well. So for us, it makes sense to have a lot. But for you and your family, it may not!
  • For pieces you’re looking to get rid of, gift, give away/donate, or try and sell!


Tips to further reduce clutter, save money, and/or reduce waste:

  • Inevitably some of your containers will break down. As you replace them, consider some better options such as:
    • higher quality items like Tupperware (buy used!)
    • glass jars from salsa, pasta sauce, etc from the grocery store. Bonus – these are easily replaced and recyclable if you lose the lid or they break.




Pots and Pans/Cookware

Start by pulling out all the pots and pans, baking sheets, muffin tins, casserole dishes, etc. you have (and any corresponding lids).

Do you have any that you don’t use regularly or that drive you bonkers (you know the one with the loose handle or the one that always burns your food)?

Do you just simply have too many?

Tips for decluttering pots/pans/cookware:

  • Truly evaluate how many you use on a regular basis and that you actually need.
  • Is there another place you can use them? For example, my family and I set aside a couple of extra pans to use when we are car camping.
  • Sell or give away to someone who wants and will use them: Pans and baking type of dishes hold up great so can often be given away or sold.
  • If all else fails, donate through Facebook Marketplace, your local Buy Nothing/Freecycle/Nextdoor group, or to a local donation center.


Tips to further reduce clutter, save money, and/or reduce waste:

  • Don’t buy any more if you don’t need them! And if you do buy a new pan, follow the ‘one item in, one item out’ rule.
  • If you do find yourself needing a new one, consider purchasing second hand. Not only will you save money, but you will also prevent waste!
  • Have a pot or pan that is no longer usable for whatever reason? Try to find a way to upcycle it! Use it as a planter, container for storage or organizing (even if it’s in a garage or storage closet.)
  • Because pans are made of metal, they can be recycled as scrap metal through your local recycling facility (NOT your regular curbside pickup). Call your county or other local recycling centers to see if it can be recycled.
  • Speaking of buying high-quality items, while they may be more expensive (unless buying second-hand), they also can last forever, which in the end is better for your pocketbook AND the environment.





Cooking/Mixing/Serving: bowls, supplies, and utensils

Tips for decluttering cooking/mixing/serving items:


Pull out all mixing/cooking/baking bowls, utensils (spatulas, measuring cups and spoons, mixing and cooking spoons, etc) out, and then consider the following as you’re going through them:

  • The easiest way (at least I’ve found) is to start this category is to look for duplicates and eliminate any you don’t need or use any more. Again, be honest here. How many measuring spoons (for example) do you actually need and use?
  • Once you’ve eliminated the duplicates, evaluate what you have left. Out of what is left, what items are your favorite? I don’t know about you, but for example, I always reach for the same mixing bowl and mixing spoon above the rest, and am super bummed if it is dirty.
  • If you have any favorites, pick those out to keep.
  • After that, evaluate what is left.
  • From there, see if there are any items you can use for multiple purposes. For example, can you use some mixing spoons as serving spoons? Same with mixing bowls?


While the number of items each person has will vary, as an example, here is what we have:

There are a number of food allergies in our house, so we cook at home and cook from scratch a lot. Therefore, what I have in my house may seem like a lot more than what you would have in your house.

  • 2 of each small, medium and large mixing bowls. To keep clutter down, we also use them as serving bowls
  • 2 sets of teaspoons/tablespoons
  • 1 set of stainless steel measuring cups
  • 2 serving platters
  • 1 salad tongs
  • 3 mixing/serving spoons, 1 rice paddle, 1 garlic press, 1 can opener, 2 flippers (that’s what we call them 😂), 1 spatula.


Again – this may look different from your home and that’s OK. What you want to make sure of is if you enjoy using the items, AND that you actually use them.


Tips to further reduce clutter, save money, and/or reduce waste:

  • Don’t buy any more if you don’t need them! And if you do buy a new pan, follow the ‘one item in, one item out’ rule.
  • If you do find yourself needing a new one, consider purchasing second hand. Not only will you save money, but you will also prevent waste!
  • If you have extra that can’t be sold and aren’t in the best condition to give away, consider letting your kids play with them (age and material appropriate, of course). My son loves playing with mixing spoons and bowls!
  • If you have bowls or spoons that you can’t donate or give away, instead of throwing them away, see if you can use them somewhere else. Can you use them as a planter/plant ID piece in your garden? Storage/organizer for somewhere else?
  • Again, while high-quality items may be more expensive (unless buying second-hand), they also can last forever, which in the end is better for your pocketbook AND the environment.





Kitchen Towels/Hot Pads/Pot Holders

Kitchen towels and hot pads can get kind of grimy from lots of kitchen use. Here are some tips for keeping them in tip-top shape, and for keeping clutter down.

Tips for decluttering kitchen towels/hot pads/ pot holders:

  • Get rid of any that are old, dirty, or really worn. Consider donating them to your local animal shelter or hospital, or using them for cleaning cloths in place of paper towels. If they must be thrown out, research textile recycling in your area and donate them.
  • Can some of them be recharged? Check out these tips here on how to recharge them.
  • Do you simply have too many? Donate, give away, or use them for cleaning in place of paper towels.



Tips to further reduce clutter, save money, and/or reduce waste:

  • Don’t buy any more items unless you absolutely need them
  • If you do buy another item, consider adopting the ‘one item in, one item out rule’
  • When the time comes that you need new items, consider purchasing second-hand. I look at our item and MOST have been given to us or we have purchased second-hand. You can get some really high-quality items for a great price!
  • As for towels and cloth pot holders, cut up old towels to make into cleaning clothes in place of cloth paper towels. This not only helps save money and reduce waste, but it is also one less thing to have to worry about keeping in ‘stock’ by ordering online, and/or running errands.





Paper Products, Tin Foil, Saran Wrap, Ziplock Bags

You may not think of these as clutter, but in my experience, they can certainly can contribute to clutter in terms of taking up space, time and money in buying them again and again, and of course, lots of waste.

Here are some tips for tackling this area:

  • Pull out all the items and group together like items. I was surprised that I had parchment paper in a couple different areas!
  • I can’t think of a reason that you would need to get rid of any items, but if there are some that you just won’t use, I’m sure there are other people who would be willing to take them from you!
  • Use up the remaining items before buying any new ones



Tips to further reduce clutter, save money, and/or reduce waste:

  • Consider replacing these disposable items with reusable ones!
    • Ziplock bags: use reusable storage containers from the thrift store, glass jars, reusable snack bags like this adorable fox bag (we have three reusable snack bags and absolutely love them – they are easy to clean and are perfect for on the go snacking)
    • Saran wrap: beeswax wraps are a great alternative to saran wrap and can last for years! I have this exact pack and I love them so much! You can also make your own beeswax wraps – there are tons of DIY recipes on Pinterest!
    • Tin foil/parchment paper for baking: we used to use parchment paper because it can be composted, but since we have run out of our last roll, we decided to try for a month and see how we could do without it. And you know what? We don’t miss it! If you know you need to have something, a silicone baking mat can be a great alternative.
    • Paper towels: Paper towels can take up a lot of space, am I right? We used to devote a whole closet shelf for our paper towels. But now? We have one small container on our kitchen counter for our clean cloth ones, and a small bin on our dishwasher (which is external) for the dirty ones. Going paper towel-less was one of the first swaps we made when looking to reduce our waste, and I have to say, we have never looked back! We have these bamboo ‘unpaper‘ towels and love them (the roll says to replace every six months, but we have used the same roll for over a year and a half and they are still going strong), but you can use old clothes, cut up shirts, cut up blankets, or whatever other towels or rags you have on hand.
    • Paper napkins: Cloth napkins are a great alternative to paper napkins! We have different colored ones, and each person in our family gets a different color. We wash them about once a week or so, and we honestly love them. Etsy is a great place to look for cloth napkins!





Food

The types and quantity of food will look different for everyone, so I’m not going to get super specific here. I mainly wanted to remind you to make sure and go through it, and also provide tips on how to prevent further food clutter.

Here are a few tips you go through when decluttering food:

  • Pantry/food cupboards
  • Top of fridge
  • Freezer
  • Fridge


Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Toss/compost any majorly expired food. As hard as it can be to throw food away, no one wants to eat expired food. In my opinion, it’s not worth getting sick for.
  • Organize like items together. This will help you know what you have before going shopping.
  • Label, label, label: This is especially true for the fridge and freezer
  • Use up the items you have before buying more


Tips to further reduce clutter, save money, and/or reduce waste:

  • Menu plan: Menu planning is a great way to save money and reduce food waste. This topic could be another post, but until then, Pinterest has tons of helpful tips. I menu plan two weeks at a time, and it has been a saving grace!
  • Compost: I have a full post on composting which you can read here, so I won’t go into detail here. But basically, just because you throw food in the trash doesn’t mean it will ‘just’ break down. Yes, it does break down, but not in a good way. In a landfill, food breaks down and produces greenhouse gasses.
  • Have an ‘eat me now’ section of your fridge. This is an area of your fridge that you dedicate to food that is about to go bad and leftovers. If anyone is looking for a meal or something to snack on, they check that area first.






Miscellaneous Items

There is one final type of clutter we haven’t talked about, and that is miscellaneous clutter. For my family, that means our clutter under the sink. Since there are so many variables between person to person as to what could be under there (or in other areas), I’ll talk about the things we had under there.

Tips for items we had under the sink:

  • Flower vases: I picked two that I wanted to keep, and then gave the rest away with flowers in them as gifts.
  • Dishcloths, scrubbers, and sponges: I donated two out of the three dish scrubbers we had as we didn’t need more than one. As for sponges and dishcloths, I knew we would use them so I just put them all in a container so they weren’t floating all over
  • Dish rack: left as is
  • Multiple boxes of garbage bags/compost bags: I found a storage container from another area of our house to put the garbage and compost bags in. This allowed us to see exactly how many we had so we weren’t guessing if we needed more at the store.
  • Some cleaners: I moved all the cleaners to a closet near our bathroom where we kept all the other cleaners. This closet is close enough to the kitchen that it didn’t really make sense to have cleaners in multiple areas. This also helps us see what we have so we aren’t buying more when we don’t need it.

As with the other items I talked about above, pull out all items, put like items together to see what you have, and donate, gift, or sell the rest.

Tips to further reduce clutter, save money, and/or reduce waste:

  • Don’t buy any more items unless you absolutely need them
  • If you do buy another item, consider adopting the ‘one item in, one item out rule’
  • When the time comes that you need new items, consider purchasing second-hand. I look at our item and MOST have been given to us or we have purchased second-hand. You can get some really high-quality items for a great price!
  • As for towels and cloth pot holders, cut up old towels to make into cleaning clothes in place of cloth paper towels. This not only helps save money and reduce waste, but it is also one less thing to have to worry about keeping in ‘stock’ by ordering online, and/or running errands.





Phew! That is it! I hope these tips were helpful for you in decluttering your kitchen, keeping clutter from coming back in, saving money and reducing waste!

If you’re looking for even more inspiration, you can join my Facebook group where we recently finished an 8-week long decluttering challenge! All the posts from the challenge are saved within the group, so you can access the tips any time.

Want even more? Check out my post on decluttering your bathroom for good, and all of my other decluttering posts here.

Finally, you can check out my free 7-day decluttering e-course which tackles all of the decluttering roadblocks my family (and many others) face when decluttering! Topics include what to do when a partner/family isn’t on board, what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and more.


Sign up for the FREE 7-Day ‘Decluttering when You’re Facing Internal and External Resistance’ E-Course!

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Feeling overwhelmed by clutter in your kitchen? This ultimate guide for decluttering your kitchen will help you clear kitchen clutter for good. Also included are tips to save money in the kitchen and reduce kitchen waste! Finally, learn how to keep clutter from coming back in. #declutter #decluttering #kitchen #clutter #clutterfree


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[…] out my post on how to declutter your bathroom for good ( + save money and reduce […]

Kim
Guest

This is so helpful as it is exactly what I plan on doing this weekend! It can all seem so overwhelming, but with your tips, it definitely seems more manageable. Thanks!

Janet
Guest

This is a very good article. I like organization. Thank you for sharing. I feel inspired to reorganize things now.

Jenn
Guest

I love all of these tips and that they are environmentally friendly! I need to tackle my kitchen and you have given me motivation! 😊 I’m loving your blog btw!

Brianne
Guest

I love all the steps in this post! I definitely need to do this, we just moved into a new house and I didn’t realize I had so much stuff!

Debbie Preston
Guest

Seriously needed this. Just moved into a new house and am all over the place. This is a great guide to help get me organized and get the clutter out of the house!

Michelle
Guest

I really liked your thoroughness with each area of the kitchen. Your post is timely as my plan for this weekend is to declutter my pantry. Any suggestions on how to sell china sets?

Dave
Guest

What a comprehensive post! I can’t believe how many tips and strategies you have. This is a great resource! I especially liked your 6 box idea to start things off. I also appreciate that you mentioned that some of your ideas didn’t work and you adapted, particularly the one dish and plate per person. Minimalism doesn’t have to be about giving up everything. Thanks so much for creating this!

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[…] For a full guide on decluttering your kitchen, check out my post: How to Declutter your Kitchen for Good (+ save money and reduce waste) […]

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