June 10th, 2017
We’ve all been there before. It’s late, you get home from work exhausted, and the first place you go after opening your front door is straight to the kitchen to see what the refrigerator has to offer. It’s a routine that’s repeated hundreds of times throughout the year.
Unfortunately for your kitchen’s cleanliness, however, your appetite and aching legs aren’t the only things you drag into your kitchen after a busy day. Your mail, bags of groceries, work/school stuff, the handful of things you brought in from the car – it all makes the daily pilgrimage straight to your apartment kitchen. And, before long, the room that used to house your countertops, table, and fridge starts to look more like a repository for junk than an actual kitchen.
If this sounds all too familiar, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Here are a few steps to help you de-clutter your kitchen for a more organized home.
The first step to de-cluttering your kitchen is a simple one – clean it. Do the dishes, wipe down the counters and other surfaces, mop the floor, and get the room to an ordinary state of clean. This doesn’t necessary mean you have to go through that huge pile of papers right away, but it does mean stacking those papers neatly on the counter and generally making sure everything is where it should be. Once your sink is free from dirty dishes and the smell from the garbage begins to fade, the de-cluttering can begin.
And, by the way, don’t give up on the project just yet. It might be tempting to put off the project for another day once things begin to look semi-organized, but you’re only getting started. That kitchen isn’t going to de-clutter itself.
Now that things are where they’re supposed to be, you might be noticing that a few too many things are “supposed” to be right on top of your counter. That’s probably because your cupboards are filled with unorganized food, a precariously piled puzzle of pots and pans, and at least five opened packages of brown sugar, all of which have completely petrified. Don’t get overwhelmed. Take it step by step and one cupboard at a time.
Pull out the pots and pans, and find matching lids for each item. Then, place them neatly back into the cupboard. What was once bursting at the seams with pan lids and handles can now fit that blender and those cutting boards that have been resting on your countertops. And, as with any de-cluttering process, if you haven’t used something in a long while – say, that one tiny pot lid that no longer has a partner – consider getting rid of it for good.
Repeat the process with your food storage cupboards. Throw out everything that has expired, and donate the still edible food you no longer want to eat. At last, there’s a place for the nine boxes of cereal that have been taking up space atop your refrigerator, not to mention the groceries you just bought.
Things are beginning to look a lot better, right? Not so fast! Take a peek inside your fridge – the food storage equivalent to your kitchen’s junk drawer (we’ll get there in a minute). This is where you put all the food you had every intention of eating three weeks ago. That funny-smelling box in the corner? There’s more penicillin than pepperoni to that pizza now. And, the casserole you spent time packing into eight different Tupperware tubs? Well, it wasn’t green when you first made it. Needless to say, it’s time for a complete refrigerator makeover. Toss out all the spoiled food, get a bucket of warm, soapy water, and start scrubbing. Do the same for the freezer, and before long, you’ll be on the home stretch.
Every apartment kitchen has a junk drawer. You know, the small pull-out drawer that houses all your pencil shavings — the one right next to that huge pile of mail and stack of papers you’ve been meaning to sort through. It’s time to tackle the trash. But first, head to the store to buy a few space organizers. They’re hugely helpful in keeping your junk drawer well organized over time. Put your sharpened pencils into one, your pens in another, and your year-old receipts and yes, your pencil shavings, straight in the garbage can.
Now, it’s onto the papers. If you’re like everyone else, most of this pile is made up of junk mail. Go through each piece individually, just in case, and recycle all the items – oops, there’s an overdue bill – all the items that no longer require your attention. Send your cousin a present, along with an apology card for missing her wedding (maybe don’t mention the reason), and now that pile of papers is either put away in a filing cabinet or sent to the recycling plant. Also, consider moving some of the basics that take up space on your counter to the walls, such as your land phone, calendar, and to-do lists.
You did it. Your apartment kitchen is finally de-cluttered. You now have room in your cupboards and your countertops are free of debris. Take a good look around. By taking time to de-clutter your kitchen, you’ve tackled what is likely the biggest project in your apartment. And, as a result, your entire house is more organized. Now the next time you come home exhausted at night, your kitchen will greet you with a clean fridge, unspoiled food, a tidy counter, and a de-cluttered place to get some well-deserved R&R. Congratulations. You’ve earned it.