Open the kitchen cabinets ... and you can tell it's time for a kitchen declutter!
Pudding mixes perch on top of the cereal, showering down onto the head of a sleepy, squawking teen each morning.
To reach the oatmeal pan, you must shove aside a stack of pizza coupons, the bread machine pan and a glass jar of pickles.
The top of the refrigerator is a greasy, dusty jumble of unfinished crafts projects, the dog's leash, empty prescription bottles, broken toys and fast-food drink cups.
Time to declutter the kitchen! Here are our best tips for streamlining and sorting kitchen clutter.
Adjust Your Attitude
Before you open a drawer, clear a counter or tackle a shelf, give yourself an attitude adjustment. To successfully declutter the kitchen, harden your heart before you begin.
An efficient, convenient kitchen must be pared to the bone. During the declutter process, resolve to dump delusions, sentiment, and indecision along with the expired coupons and never-used cookbooks.
Repeat after me: "To create a clean and organized kitchen, I will dare to dump it!"
Gear Up For Decluttering
Decluttering is an activity that takes time, thought and energy. You'll need every scrap of space and all your mental marbles for this activity, so begin with a clear deck and the tools you'll use to do the job.
Clear the counters, empty the dishwasher and bring your kitchen to an ordinary state of clean before you begin. Fill a dishpan or sink with hot soapy water for quick clean-up and replacement of dusty items.
Together with clear counters, you'll need a minimum of four boxes and a good assortment of garbage bags to begin. Sturdy black plastic garbage bags not only hold lots of broken and discarded items, they also prevent Declutterer's Remorse--the condition in which you second-guess your own decision to discard by retrieving items from the trash. Out of sight is out of mind, so declutter right into opaque trash bags for best results.
Label boxes as follows: Put Away (Kitchen), Put Away (Elsewhere), Give Away/Sell and Storage. You'll use one box for items that belong in another location in the kitchen, a second box for strays from other areas of the house.
Items for Goodwill or a yard sale find a home in the Give Away/Sell box, while household possessions that need to be stored are entrusted to the Storage box. Trash belongs in trash bags, and quickly, too!
Take It Step-By-Step
Once you get started, it's hard to avoid decluttering all sides at once. For example, you find a lone Christmas plate in the junk drawer, so you go to the high cabinet that holds the Christmas dishes, only to see a sack of whole oats that belongs in the cupboard where sits the bottle of window cleaner you forgot you stashed there while looking for the mop a few days ago ... stop!
Declutter a single shelf, drawer or cupboard at a time, no exceptions.
Use one of the boxes to hold items to be put away in another location in the kitchen, and assign a second box for rest-of-the-house put-aways.
Donations or items for storage go to their respective boxes. Stick with your shelf until you're done, then put away the items from the put-away boxes before moving on. You'll stay focused when you declutter one step at a time!
Decluttering step-by-step also provides a natural opportunity to break down a big job. If you're distracted by caring for small children, declutter one drawer or shelf per nap, deep-cleaning as you go.
Slow and steady will win the race, but a premature end to an over-ambitious kitchen declutter will spell all-out kitchen disaster for a very, very long time.