How to Declutter and Freshen Up Your Kitchen—Right Now!

The high-traffic kitchen is the heart of the home—and it's often a mess. Here's how to declutter your kitchen and keep it feeling cheerful and fresh.

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Detail of a fancy kitchen
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With all the time we spend in the kitchen, it’s no wonder that it can quickly become a dumping ground. From purses and backpacks to piles of mail and cluttered kitchen tools, the space has seen it all. But there’s good news. With a few simple tricks, you can give your kitchen a face-lift—quick! Banish the clutter and refresh those neglected nooks and crannies with the following tips. Inspired by Marie Kondo? Get her most genius organizational tips here.

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Modern white kitchen clean interior design; Shutterstock ID 119843548
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Clear the Counters

The quickest way to give your kitchen a makeover is to clear the counters. Keep the essentials, like the coffee maker, the toaster, and maybe a cute tray for the olive oil and salt and pepper. The rest can go. Put away the bread bags, sort through the stack of junk mail and find a new spot for that stack of cookbooks. No matter how small your kitchen, with the counters clear it’ll feel airy and spacious. Looking for even more room? Try these space-saving tricks to gain more counter space.

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Organize the Spice Cabinet

It’s no surprise that one of the most cluttered kitchen areas is the spice cabinet. Are you constantly doing the old “lift and look” maneuver, trying to read spice labels in the back of the cabinet to find (maybe) the particular seasonings you need? Pick up a spice jar organizer the next time you’re out shopping. There are stair-type models or stackable shelves-both are affordable and easy to install. Your cabinet will look orderly and clean, and you’ll always know where the garlic powder is. Plus, you can make more room for these spices you never knew you needed.

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Add a Bright Bowl of Fruit

What could be more cheerful than a happy bowl of bright yellow lemons? Setup is easy; grab a cute bowl and insert fruit. (If you go with lemons, they’ll always be on hand if you decide to whip up some lemon bars.) Then place the bowl on the kitchen table or counter, and stand back and admire. Congratulations-you’re a kitchen stylist! Do check the contents daily, replacing fruit and washing the bowl as needed.

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Refresh the Garbage Disposal

Nothing will kill your kitchen vibe more than a funky smell coming out of the sink. Clean the disposal by pouring in 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda. Let it sit up to a few hours, follow up with water and run the disposal. Think that’s clever? Check out our favorite ways to clean with baking soda.

Next, make the sink smell fresh with the power of citrus oils. Take whatever citrus fruit you have on hand-lemon, grapefruit or orange-and cut one or two into chunks, peel included. Put the fruit in the drain, run the water and turn on the garbage disposal. The citrus oils will help clean the blades and deodorize the chamber.

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Tackle the Storage Containers

If you opened your storage container cabinet right now, how likely is it that an avalanche of mismatched lids would fall out? Pretty likely, we’re guessing. Empty the cabinet, pair up containers to their matching lids and discard the extras. Now breathe a sigh of satisfaction that the next time you need to put away leftovers, you won’t be rifling through a chaotic pile of plastic containers for 15 minutes.

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Clean Grimy Grout

Tile grout is something that tends to be neglected no matter how impressive your housekeeping skills are. Whether you hire a professional or go at it with your own elbow grease, clean grout will give your kitchen a noticeable upgrade. To DIY this cleaning project, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the grout lines and scrub with a toothbrush. Get more grout cleaning tips here.

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Add a Houseplant or Herbs

Recent studies have shown that the presence of plants can lighten our moods and lower anxiety—not to mention that a few leafy friends can improve how guests perceive your space. So cheer up your kitchen with a plant. If you feel even more ambitious, plant some fresh herbs in a window to use when cooking at home. Yum.

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Home kitchen interior. Cooking utensils on a railing system and shelf with dishes above a window.; Shutterstock ID 698380921
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Hang New Dish Towels

A dingy dish towel hanging around can really suck the life out of the space. New towels are a quick and affordable way to add color and maybe a bit of on-trend style to your kitchen. Display a couple of brightly patterned towels on the oven door and you’ll see instant results.

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Get Fancy with Hand Soap

Take a look at a designer kitchen styled by a professional. You know what you won’t see? A bottle of plain old dollar-store hand soap by the sink. Refresh the sink area, first of all, by getting rid of the dirty dishes and giving the sink a good cleaning. Then add a beautiful bottle of soap, maybe even one that comes with matching hand lotion.

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Clear Off the Fridge

The front of the fridge can become a clutter trap. Old fliers, last month’s invitations and kids’ schoolwork take over, and before you know it you don’t remember what the door of your fridge looks like. Toss anything you no longer need, store the schoolwork somewhere else and give the door a good Windex treatment. Doesn’t that feel better? Add some pretty new magnets for extra points.

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Clean Out the Pantry

Is your pantry hiding a can of soup that’s older than some of your children? If so, it’s time to clean out the pantry. Don’t become overwhelmed with this project. Simply take it shelf by shelf and throw out anything that’s expired. (Use this guide to see what you can keep indefinitely.) Add a few baskets and bins to corral smaller items, and put baking supplies like flour and sugar in big glass jars. Just a few simple steps will make all the difference.

Even if you don’t have your dream kitchen, a little creativity can improve its look. Help your kitchen meet its true potential. Declutter, add a few simple luxuries and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. When it’s all finished, grab a cookie from the newly organized pantry. You deserve a cookie.

Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.