10 Things You Shouldn’t Be Storing on Your Kitchen Countertop
You probably use your kitchen counter as a catch-all for various odds and ends. But there are some things you might not want to keep there.
Appliances you rarely use
In a 2018 survey from MasterBrand Cabinets, the majority of Americans (60 percent) cited cluttered counter space as their biggest cause of stress in the kitchen. Too often, kitchen counters become a prime spot to stash things you’re not sure where else to put, which clutters them up real quick! On top of that, there are also plenty of kitchen items that you’re actually better off not keeping on your counter.
For instance, your kitchen counter may seem like the obvious place to keep toasters, blenders, mixers and other appliances—they’re kitchen tools, after all. But if you only use them every once in a while, there is no sense in having them take up space on your countertops. Indeed, more than half of survey respondents said that appliances were the biggest culprits of their stress-inducing counter clutter. A good rule of thumb to give yourself is: If you don’t use it every day (or every time you cook), it shouldn’t be taking up space on your counter. And if you’re not sure where to put these things instead, these 12 kitchen storage hacks you’ll want to use immediately will help.
The second most common cause of counter clutter-related stress according to the survey is stacks of papers. This one’s easy to understand; it’s a lot easier to just toss day-to-day papers onto your counter than to read through and sort all of them. Whether it’s magazines, newspapers, junk mail or not-so-junky mail like bills, papers can accumulate fast. A messy look isn’t the only reason to keep papers out of your cooking space. If papers, especially magazines, get wet while sitting on your countertop, “the ink can easily get transferred onto your countertop’s surface,” cautions Stephanie Cooper of Energy Cleaning. “After that, it is a nightmare to clean.”
As with appliances, there’s no need for the fancy china and dinnerware that you only use on holidays to sit on your counter. “From a cleaner’s point of view, it is a nightmare to properly wipe each thing every week,” Cooper says. “From a health perspective, it is not advisable to keep dusty objects near the place you prepare your food or eat.” Instead, consider storing it in a glass-front cabinet, or, if you’re feeling particularly decorative, hanging it on a wall. The same goes for decorative trinkets and other non-functional items; especially if they’re small, there are probably plenty of places you can store them that doesn’t take away from your cooking space. Before you put them away, make sure you know how to polish them first.
We won’t fault you for wanting to keep the often quite decorative canisters containing your sugar, flour and other such ingredients in plain view on your counter. But you can’t deny that they can sometimes be bulky and take up a good deal of room. This one’s really a matter of personal preference, but it’s still pretty convenient to keep them in an upper cabinet or in your pantry. Just make sure you’re not joining these 16 foods that shouldn’t be stored in the pantry.
It may come as a surprise, but your counter probably isn’t the best place to keep your spice collection. In particular, make sure you’re not storing spices near your oven or stove top, where accumulated heat can weaken their flavors over time. Stephanie Bostic, PhD, a registered dietician and food safety expert explains that “light and heat from sunlight or cooking surfaces, can degrade the flavors faster than if you store them in a cool, dark place.”
Fancy knife blocks do look nice, and as such, you may want to keep them in a prominent spot. Just be aware that it’s not the safest place to store your knives, especially if you have young children in the house. Bostic recommends keeping your sharp knives in a drawer with a lock to keep them out of sight (and reach) of little ones.
Safety aside, you may just rather not have a large knife block taking up lots of room on your counter, especially if you don’t regularly use most of those knives. By the way, here are 8 ways you’re abusing your knives without even knowing it.
Here’s another food that you’ve probably been storing on your counter and inadvertently lessening its quality. Just like spices, olive oil can go bad more quickly if it’s stored in direct light and heat. The same is true for other types of oil as well; they will keep better in a cool, dark place. “Inside a cabinet or pantry works well for most oils,” Bostic suggests.
The more visible and accessible your guilty-pleasure snacks are, the more likely you are to grab them. Keeping desserts and snacks in less convenient, less accessible places will allow you to be less tempted by them. The same goes for anyone else in your household, too (looking at you, kiddos). On top of that, baked goods and candy can leave stickiness and crumbs on your counter, which, well, isn’t the best, most sanitary kitchen aesthetic. Check out these secret cleaning tips from professional cleaning people.
Put simply, food and chemical-packed cleaning products don’t mix. You don’t want to risk spilling any of these inedible substances onto your food or the areas where you prep it. Even more kitchen-friendly products, like dish soap and disinfectant, should be stored in a closet or a cabinet, especially once they’re open. This way, they’ll have a much lower chance of spilling into your kitchen prep space.
With the increasing popularity of home devices that can be very helpful while cooking, such as the Amazon Alexa, it’s tempting to keep them handy on your kitchen counter. But considering the amount of water-pouring, dishwashing and accidental spillage that happens during meal preparation, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep your phones, laptops, virtual assistants and speakers off your counter and out of range of any potential water damage. Now that you know what not to keep on your counter, find out how to fix more of the common kitchen mistakes almost everyone makes.