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Our spring cleaning challenge begins in the kitchen. I’d say besides the bathroom, the kitchen is the most used room in our home. It also tends to be the place we dump everything when we come in the door. Needless to say, it gets quite a bit of clutter… and grime.
It’s hard to get the enthusiasm to cook if you know you need to clean the kitchen before you even begin. If your kitchen is clean and tidy, it’s much easier to get excited about going in and preparing a meal.
Look over your schedule for the next week and pick a couple of days, or three or four, to get through this. I don’t recommend doing it all in one marathon stint. You’ll wear yourself out and make the rest of us look bad.
Clean and declutter your cupboards one day, counter tops the next, the fridge another, you get the idea.
In order to really say good-bye to the clutter, we’re going to have to get messy before we get clean. First place we need to start is the cupboards. We can’t move things up off of the counters if the cupboards are crammed full.
1. Start on one side of the kitchen and one set of cupboards. Pull everything out of the cupboard. Yes, everything. Get all the way to the back and top of the shelves. Look at each item and ask yourself this question. Have I used this in the last year? If the answer is no, then put it in a box or bag to donate to Goodwill or giveaway. If the answer is yes, have you used it more than once a year? If you only use the item once at Christmas or some other holiday, then ask yourself if you have another item you could use in its place, and if so, donate it.
Try to pare it down to only items you use monthly. A few serving platters I use more during the warmer months when we have potlucks and barbecues, so I kept those, but anything I wasn’t using on a regular basis I got rid of. I had more than one box of kitchen items… more than two or three actually.
Believe it or not, I had a fluted heart shaped bread pan I’d purchased over ten years ago. I’ve never used it. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out how you got the dough into the pan without it spilling everywhere…. it went into the donate box. Do you have four bread pans of the same size? Do you ever bake four loaves of bread at the same time? If the answer is yes to both questions, then keep them, but if the answer is no, then keep the sturdiest and your favorite of the four.
When we first married we had a lot of hand-me-down dishes and bake ware. Over the years, I’ve invested in better quality items. But I didn’t get rid of the old ones, I just added to them. If you bring something into your home, be prepared to take something out. This is a new rule we’re working on at our homestead.
Wipe off and clean shelves before putting the items you’re keeping back in. Arrange them so the items you use the most frequently are at the front and easiest to get to.
If you have open shelves, do the same thing. How about your cookbook shelf? If you only use one recipe out of a cook book, copy it down and get rid of the book. Have a cookbook you’ve never used? Don’t keep it. I love to cook and bake. I had two shelves worth of cook books. I only use four of them routinely. I now have one shelf and am getting ready to purge it again.
2. Take everything off of your counters. If you use an item daily, it can stay on your counter. If you don’t use it daily, find a home for it in your newly freed up space cupboards. My Blendtec blender and wheat grinder used to sit on the counter. I use my Blendtec about five to six days a week, sometimes more, but sometimes less. My wheat grinder varies from once a week to three times a week. We had an electric coffee pot, but found we preferred our French Press coffee maker better, plus it doesn’t use electricity. After three months of only using the French Press, I took the electric coffee pot to the Goodwill.
It’s much easier to wipe down a counter when it’s empty. It’s also easier to see when something is out of place when the counter is kept sparse and makes me put that item in its home faster. Result: cleaner counters all the time.
3. Assess the drawers. We all have that junk drawer… or one or two. Bad thing about this is we usually end up tossing everything into it until we can no longer open and close the draw without things spilling out. And we really don’t have a clue about what all is in it.
I have a drawer near the stove and fridge I keep my tea towels and hand towels in. During canning season I use three hand towels at a time. Any baker knows, tea towels are a wonderful thing for allowing dough to rise, draining whey, keeping breads and baked goods covered while cooling, and just about anything in between you can think of.
I’d fold, poke, shove, and wrestle my towels into the drawer. Then when I went to open it, one would get hung up and I’d have to fish it out in order to open the drawer. I honestly used all of the towels. However, instead of folding your towels, roll them up! Same goes for aprons or tablecloths. Now the drawer closes easier and I can see which towel I want at a glance.
4. Under the sink. How many cleaners do you need? Chances are you’ve got a different cleaner lurking under your sink for just about everything. I used to. But now my cleaners pretty much boil down to vinegar, baking soda, and water. I have dish soap and dish washer liquid, but I don’t use a separate floor cleaner, window cleaner, tile cleaner, or oven cleaner.
Here is my 1 ingredient 5 minute natural oven cleaner (it also works on tubs, shower stalls, sinks, and toilets). Here’s my recipe for my all purpose cleaner that I use for floors, windows, mirrors and counter tops. Last but not least 4 ways to clean your house with vinegar or for listening pleasure my podcast Vinegar the Most Versatile Item in Your Home.
Again, take everything out. I re-use any plastic grocery bags we get for small waste basket liners so I have a small stash of them under the sink. Toss out almost empty bottles of cleaners or ones you no longer use. Even if there was a small amount left, if it was one that had chemicals I wasn’t comfortable with, I threw it away. Empty flower vases? I don’t know why mine collected there. I kept my very favorite and got rid of the rest.
Now, only put back the cleaners you use. And I mean ones you’ve used in the last month or so.
5. Wipe down the outside of cupboard doors, crown moldings and trim. It’s amazing the amount of dust that can collect on the rim around my cupboard doors.
6. Refrigerator. Same principals as everything else. Haul it all out, toss the old, the bad, and the ugly… and the stuff you’re not going to eat or has been sitting in there forever. Wash out drawers and shelves. If something is almost expired, plan on using it in your next meal, freeze it, or dehydrate it.
After the inside is clean, take on the top of the fridge. Wipe it clean and go through any times you have stored on top.
Many of us have tons of things stuck to the outside of our fridge, from pictures, to flyers, and who knows what else. Keep a few favorite photos and eliminate the rest. We have a Bible verse, the calender for school of the current month, and a few favorite snap shots. I took down a lot of other non-necessity stuff.
7. Floors. If you have things in piles on the floor, get rid of it or put it in its correct place. Sweep and then mop.
Do you have any kitchen cleaning and decluttering tips to add?
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.