10 Ways to Tidy Your Kitchen, According to Marie Kondo
Decluttering is HOT, thanks to bestselling author and TV personality Marie Kondo. Here are our favorite KonMari-approved tips for creating a space that lets you love to cook.
Keep What You Love
Marie Kondo is famous for her mantra: Keep only what sparks joy. Period. Let go of other justifications for keeping things you don’t like or need. Don’t hold onto the juicer you never use because “it was expensive.” And don’t keep that wedding gift soup tureen if you hate the pattern, or the pasta machine you might try someday (maybe). Keep only what sparks joy, and you’ll find that you feel more pleasure when you cook and eat.
…and What You Use Every Day
The kitchen is definitely a hub of utilitarian items. If you don’t feel a spark of joy at the sight of your can opener, that’s OK—Keep items you regularly use, too. Kondo suggests that, if you don’t feel the spark for things like your everyday dishes or pans, hold onto them (of course), but consider upgrading to ones that do bring joy when you can afford it. I kept my hand-me-down aluminum pot for years until I could afford a cast-iron Dutch oven, which now sparks joy every time I use it.
Organize by Category, Not by Location
Instead of organizing the kitchen in one go, first sort kitchen tools and equipment, then food. When going through cookware and equipment, gather everything you own in that category—whether you keep it in your kitchen cabinets, out in the laundry room or in the garage.
Take everything in the category and pile it on the table or the floor. This step can feel extreme, but it’s important. Visually confronting the sheer quantity of what you own makes it easier to take stock and to let things go.
This is tough work: Keep your energy up with a healthy snack.
Get Rid of Anything That Doesn’t Spark Joy
Decluttering is a process of paring down, often dramatically. As Kondo says, “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”
Hold each item for a moment. If it sparks joy (or is useful and necessary), then keep it. If not, thank the item for its service, and let it go. It’s helpful to consider like items together. If you have several bread pans, keep the one or two you really use. If you have eight hot sauces, keep your favorites (and ditch anything that is expired!).
Do a Quick Clean-Up
With your cabinets, drawers and fridge emptied, you have a perfect opportunity to clean them up. Use a wet cloth to wipe down surfaces and catch crumbs. Consider adding liners to keep shelves clean. While you’re at it, wipe down oil and vinegar bottles, dust spice jars and wash refrigerator drawers.
Pro tip: Once your kitchen is clean, you can keep it that way—in one minute a day! Here’s how.
Let Your Lifestyle Determine Your Organization
To keep your kitchen clean and organized, set it up right. Put all items of the same type together in one place. Kondo likes to think vertically, shelf by shelf. For example, cereal and snacks on the bottom shelf, canned food and jars of grains and beans on the next, flour and baking goods on top, etc. But you do you. Keep items you use most in easily accessible areas.
It’s also helpful to store everything you’ll need for a specific task together. For example, if you brew coffee every morning, store the beans, grinder, cups and measuring scoop together, ideally close to the machine.
Organizers Are Your Friends
Subdividing drawers and shelves into smaller sections helps keep items separate and uncluttered. Kondo likes to use shelf stackers to maximize space in tall shelves. In drawers, plastic or cardboard boxes corral silverware, knives, clips and cooking tools. Caddies keep cleaners tidy under the sink. Shoeboxes make it easy to find spices. Fixing a rack to the inside of a cabinet makes pot lids easy to grab, and makes the most of a cramped space. Good organization makes your kitchen easier and more efficient to use (which makes you a happier cook).
Banish Anything That Doesn’t Belong in the Kitchen
Do you come in the door and throw your mail on the counter? Toss your purse on the table? Is the island a dumping ground for every random item your family goes through in a day, from stray Legos to cell phones? Go ahead and make the kitchen a cooking-only zone (hanging out while someone is cooking counts). Your work space will feel larger without unneeded items in it.
Pare Down the Paper
Marie Kondo is pretty ruthless about paper. She recommends throwing most papers away, even books! But if you’re an avid cook, you likely have a big collection of recipes—from cards to magazines to cookbooks. If you haven’t made the pasta recipe you flagged in a magazine five years ago, then you’re probably not going to. Ditch it! If you cook a few recipes from a particular book, snap a photo of the pages you need, and let the bulky book go.
Visualize the Lifestyle You Want
When decluttering, keep your eye on the prize, which isn’t just a tidy house. Kondo believes that tidying can actually improve your lifestyle. Kondo wrote, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”
Focus on your vision for how you want your kitchen to work. Do you want to cook more healthy meals? For the family to linger around the table on weeknights? Or do you want to create a zen atmosphere for your solo cooking time? It’s totally up to you.
Hooked on the KonMari method? Find tips for the rest of your house right here.