How to Organize the Kitchen in 30 Minutes
Organizing your kitchen can seem overwhelming. Even in small kitchens there are usually multiple cabinets and shelves, and so many different potential areas for clutter: food, cleaning supplies, dishes, and so on. But creating a neater kitchen doesn’t have to be an onerous all-day project. You can really get a lot done in 30 minutes. Remember you’re not completely organizing the kitchen or cleaning everything in sight, just taking a few easy steps, in a few minutes, to help yourself maintain a... neater kitchen in the future.
You can do this without any special tools, but you might want to keep a pen and paper near you for jotting down any thoughts you have about future organization. For example, while working you might realize that drawer dividers would be a smart purchase, or that you’re running low on dish soap. Make a quick note about anything you discover so you’ll remember it later.
1. Start with something small and quick: the junk drawer(s).
Organizing the junk drawer is fast. First, take all the contents out. Then, throw away anything that you don’t need. Of the objects left, select the ones that are in no way kitchen-related and return them to their proper places through the house. Everything that remains either has a more likely place within your kitchen (if so, put it there now), or deserves to stay in the drawer. Arrange the true junk drawer items so they’re not a jumbled mess.
2. Now move on to the area under the sink.
Toss anything that’s leaking or otherwise not worth saving, and quickly neaten everything else up. You don’t have to be perfect about this, or any straightening you do in this half hour. Just line up your bottles of cleanser, boxes of tin foil, and other supplies in rows so you can see - and access - what you have.
3. Next, do a quick scan of you cupboards and/or pantry.
Is any of the food in there expired? Any dented cans or otherwise scary-looking packaging? Throw all of those items away. Now arrange what’s left in sections (e.g. baking, canned food, tea) or at least make sure it’s all upright and visible.
4. Do the same with your refrigerator and freezer.
If these are in a really bad state, and haven’t been cleaned in forever, you may want to leave them for another time. But if they’re mostly fine, you can quickly go through them and check for anything that’s disgusting or ancient. There’s no need to remove everything from the fridge or freezer (unless, again, they are very dirty.) Simply check for anything that needs to be thrown away while you arrange your food so you can get to it.
5. Move on to your dishes, utensils, and cookware.
You don’t have to make any huge decisions here, just look out for anything out of place or anything you obviously don’t want anymore. (I tend to accumulate reusable plastic water bottles in inconvenient sizes; every so often I’ll take them away and add them to the bag going to Goodwill.) If you spot a broken dish, either dispose of it or take it out of the cupboard so you’ll remember to fix it later.
6. Now, look around to get a sense of your kitchen as a whole.
Is there anything there that belongs somewhere else, like a coats drape over a chair that belongs in the hall closet? Is there anything that’s simply in the wrong spot, like a pot you left out on the counter that you can put back on the shelf? These superficial little touches can really make the difference between a room that looks sloppy and one that looks polished.
7. Finally, if you’re super-fast and did all that with time to spare, this is a really good time to do a little cleaning job.
Nothing major, just do any dishes that might be in the sink, put away any in the dish drainer, and wipe down counters and other surfaces with cleaning spray or a disinfectant cloth. A kitchen that’s freshly organized and smells like lemon-spearmint-ocean, or whatever the cleaning people have come up with now, will make you feel inordinately accomplished.
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