13 Smart Ways to Clean and Organize Your Cupboards

Feeling overwhelmed by kitchen clutter? These kitchen organization tips can help you sort your stuff and tidy your cabinets—and keep them that way.

Photo of well stocked pantry ready for winterDarryl Brooks/Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock / Darryl Brooks

Since kitchens are often our most-used spaces, it’s easy to let clutter get out of hand. And with the wide array of gadgets we accumulate (we’re looking at you, SodaStream!), it’s no wonder our cabinets are bursting at the seams.

Whether your kitchen cupboards need an overhaul or you just need to tackle the junk drawer, here’s how you can maximize your storage space and keep your kitchen clutter-free.

1. Take stock

Empty your cabinets and drawers so you can see everything at once. Not only does this give you a chance to wipe them clean, but it provides an overview of what needs to be done.

2. Pare down

Discard or donate duplicates, unused items or things that need to be replaced. Be ruthless. If you haven’t used it in a year, toss it. Plastic storage container without a lid? Pitch it. Margarita glasses you forgot you had? Get rid of ’em.

3. Store holiday gear elsewhere

Free up valuable kitchen space by storing your snowman cookie jar and holiday serving platters with your holiday decor. This way, your kitchen will be filled with stuff you use year-round instead of cluttered by once-a-year kitchen tableware.

4. Gather similar items

Stop searching for the missing measuring spoon! Round up your cooking utensils, group together commonly used baking essentials, like sugar, flour, sprinkles and frosting, and gather spices on a lazy Susan. (There are so many innovative ways to use a lazy Susan.)

5. Tackle your plastic storage containers

It’s time to put an end to the inevitable avalanche of plastic containers. Store them nesting doll-style—with smaller containers and lids inside larger ones—or take a tip from your office and use a file rack to stand lids upright.

6. Go with the flow

Create a kitchen that works with you. Store cups and mugs by the sink or refrigerator, place silverware near your dinnerware and gather cooking utensils next to the stove in a mason jar. (Looking for ways to reuse your glass jars? Read our favorite tips.)

7. See what you collect

Use clear containers—find them at the dollar store!—to corral single servings of food (like chips or oatmeal), utensils, mixer attachments and other small items. Extra points if you bust out your label maker!

8. Go vertical

Maximize your cabinets by using all of the space. Add risers to cupboards to add an extra tier for storing bakeware, and attach hooks to the inside of the door to hang measuring spoons and potholders. Consider hanging pots and pans on the ceiling or wall near your stove for a functional yet stylish way to make space.

9. Master those drawers

Before putting utensils away, use clear desk organizers to divide the drawer. Or if you’re feeling up for a little DIY, head to the hardware store for lumber and wood glue to create custom dividers. And don’t fear the junk drawer; we all have them! Using clear containers with lids will help corral everything from rubber bands and batteries to flashlights and screwdrivers.

10. Use old things new ways

You don’t need to invest in fancy kitchen organizers. Hang an over-the-door shoe rack on your pantry door to hold cans, spices and other pantry essentials. Round up cans of soup in a magazine rack, or use a wire file rack to organize bakeware.

11. Maximize under-sink space

With a little planning, the space under the sink can be an ultra-functional area for your cleaning supplies. Install dowels to hold rolls of garbage bags, and use sliding bins to hold sprays and sponges for easy access.

12. Follow the one in, one out method

Keep clutter at bay by following this popular rule of thumb: As soon as you bring something new into the space, discard or donate something else. This helps keep your kitchen from getting overwhelmed by new items.

13. Stick to it!

Now that everything in your kitchen has a place, use it. As soon as you’re finished with the appliance or the utensil is clean, put it away. Cleaning as you go will help prevent a mountain of work later.

Putting these tips into practice can lead to a clutter-free kitchen for you and your family. Keep the momentum going by decluttering the rest of your kitchen!

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Alexa Hackfort
Alexa is a writer who believes there’s always room for ice cream. Based in Milwaukee, she enjoys exploring the city, tackling new recipes and planning her next trip.