When it’s time to cook or get a snack, you want a kitchen where all of your ingredients and cooking ware are easy to find and easy to reach.
Having a well-organized and clean kitchen is also a way for you to keep your food safe from harmful pathogens from reaching you, your family, or the friends who you are cooking for. Depending on your kitchen’s size, organizing and cleaning can be a large project, but the benefits will be worth the effort.
World-class chefs say that working in a clean kitchen is essential because food that isn’t clean is hazardous to both the chef and the people eating. If chefs and cooks don’t work while keeping their kitchens clean and organized, people can get sick.
While you don’t need to achieve the same standards as a world-class chef, you must adopt the mindset of keeping your kitchen in good order. The structure you create will help you cook more efficiently and cook food that is safe to eat.
If you need to organize your kitchen, you will likely need to do some cleaning and purging of the materials that you have in it. Some items in your kitchen might need relocating, or you might need to throw some things away. The first step to a clean kitchen is identifying which items need to go.
This step requires you to let go of kitchenware, utensils, glasses, mugs, and plates that you no longer use. Take inventory of what’s in your kitchen and begin identifying the old materials. Pots, pans, and utensils that you no longer use are just taking up storage space.
Also, you should throw away any damaged items like scratched pots and pans or cracked kitchenware. These materials are possible health hazards and also do not cook food with optimal results.
Benefits Of The Purge or Declutter Approach First
Cleaning and purging your kitchen of cooking tools will help your organization process and make your kitchen a safer, sanitized area to cook and eat.
Scratched or damaged pots and pans are more susceptible to bacteria. Moldy and expired food could spread bacteria to other food stored around them. Clearing your kitchen of these unwanted items prevents diseases from getting into your cooking or spreading from your kitchen.
The other benefit of clearing out these spaces is that simplicity guides organization. When you have fewer items in your inventory, it’s much easier to store what remains. Fewer things mean more storage space, less mess, and more functionality in your cooking space. You’ll be able to cook faster with the confidence of all of your materials being sanitary to use.
Ultimately, the simplification helps you get what you need from your kitchen quickly, without you having to continually search for what you need hiding in the drawers around you. You’ll save time, energy, and effort after optimizing your kitchen.
Take Everything Off the Counter
Now that you have all the kitchen tools that you plan to use and have thrown out all of the excesses and damaged kitchenware–you are ready to begin reorganizing your kitchen for success. Begin by decluttering what’s on your counters.
Clearing off the counters allows you more room for preparation when you cook. Since your counter is clear of the non-essentials, you won’t have to cook around objects that serve no purpose to what you’re doing.
To declutter, identify the cooking tools that you use most often and also the area in your kitchen where you usually cook. These are cooking sprays, oils, spatulas, spices, or cutting boards that you will likely use a lot.
You want these materials to be within reach, so you don’t have to look for them. Keep them within arms reach. Even if you have them stored in a designated area, you won’t have to go searching for them.
Plan designated areas in your kitchen to store different cooking ware like pots and pans, utensils, and spatulas. Then, take all of the other things you only use on specific dishes or occasions and store them in your designated areas.
Now, your counters should be clear of excess material. You should be able to find the tools you need for dishes faster, and you can now access the cooking ware that you need the most with greater ease.
While decluttering, you may find cooking ware that you’ve only used once or a few times since you’ve owned it. These might be items that you think you might use later but have not touched for a while–you can select a special place for these items.
Choose an Infrequent Use Cabinet
You can select a cabinet or drawer for cooking ware that you don’t plan to use soon, but you still want to hold onto. This can be a more miscellaneous storage space, and it will prevent your less-needed items from taking space in the drawers of the things you use more often.
When you clean your kitchen in the future, this infrequent use cabinet can help you identify tools that you want to get rid of–further organizing your kitchen. You may find that some of the cooking ware that you thought you might need at some point serves no purpose for you, and you want to get rid of it entirely.
All of these methods will help the overall organization and optimize your cooking because you have stripped away excesses and have kept only the essential kitchen materials that help you cook and are safe for you to cook with.
Cleaning the Fridge
When it comes to health and food safety, your fridge is a crucial part of your kitchen that you want to keep clean.
You clean your fridge in two ways: purging and storage. The Center for Disease Control recommends keeping your fridge at 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit to protect the food inside of it. Make sure your fridge is at the right temperature, then you can take inventory of what’s inside.
Purging The Refrigerator
The first step to cleaning your fridge is selecting which items you want to keep and which items need to go. It’s easy to forget about what items are in your fridge after weeks of groceries and cooking new meals. Products and old food get pushed around to make room for fresh food and then spoil after staying for too long.
Look at each of the items in your fridge and take note of their condition. Take out any refrigerated items that appear old, smell, or that have passed their expiration date. Disposing of this food will prohibit the spread of harmful bacteria and reduce the possibility of food poisoning.
Eliminating these items will create room in your fridge for the products you can still use and newer, fresher food coming in. You might also decide to empty your fridge while you purge it to disinfect the different shelves, containers, drawers, and covers of bacteria.
If you find your fridge cluttered with food that isn’t stored correctly–it can be a significant breeding ground for bacteria and illness.
In general, you should refrigerate all fruits, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, and meats within two hours of their exposure to room temperature. When you store your food, separate your meats and your produce. Keep your raw meat on the lowest shelf and away from vegetables. If you have leftover food from a meal, store it in shallow Tupperware so it cools faster.
It’s best to routinely check and clean your fridge of old food and reorganize it for storage space. Keeping track of what’s inside regularly will prevent more extensive cleaning work later on.
Cleaning the Pantry
Like your refrigerator, the pantry is another potential clutter zone in your kitchen. You want the food and ingredients here to be only what you plan to eat or cook with in the future. After several grocery trips, there is likely expired food here or food that you don’t want.
Begin cleaning your pantry by clearing off all of the shelves or cabinets. Start taking inventory of what you have. You are on the lookout for expired and moldy products that you need to throw out. Once you have those foods tossed and only have food you are sure you will use, you can sanitize the shelves by sweeping up crumbs, dusting them, and wiping them down.
By clearing these shelves off first, you can clean the actual shelves that hold your food and protect those from bacteria. Since you’ve purged this area, too, you have also made room for newer and fresher food that you will eat.
Handle Pots, Plates, and Appliances
To clean and store pots and plates, use hot water and soap to kill all the bacteria. Especially for dishes, make good use of your dishwasher to sanitize your plates and prepare them for storage.
Cleaning pots thoroughly is also essential. Since you will likely store pots and pans together, cleaning them thoroughly will prohibit bacteria from spreading to other cooking ware. Make sure these are dry before you keep them to prevent water damage to your shelves and drawers.
You will also want to disinfect toasters, microwaves, stoves, ovens, and other appliances. It’s easy to forget about the grease, crumbs, and food excess that can stain these appliances’ surfaces, but keeping these clean is essential to maintaining an organized kitchen. Food waste and particles build up over time and become harder to clean.
Wipe off appliances after you use them. Clean off food waste right away to prevent them from building up. It’s also essential never to cook with damaged appliances as they may not cook food entirely and are also fire hazards.
Organizing The Kitchen
At this point, you have eliminated all of the excess food and cooking ware in your kitchen. What remains now are only the essentials that you need. You have minimized the number of things in your kitchen, so now it is much easier to organize.
While personal preference and the size of your kitchen might influence much of your organizing, there are a few helpful hints that can help you along the way. The goal is to optimize your kitchen for your cooking and safety.
How to Organize Your Pots and Pans
Pots and pans tend to be challenging to store in drawers and cabinets because of their size.
While you can stack them by size, it is best to purchase pan and lid organizers. These are dividers that store and separate your pans instead of stacking them. They also make identifying the right size lid for your pot or pan convenient.
Store pots and pans in a place that is easy to reach because these can be heavy, and you don’t want them to fall from a high place. A drawer or cabinet with ample room under the countertop is usually best as they are easy to access.
How to Organize Your Plates, Glasses, and Mugs
Designate one cabinet in your kitchen for all plates and bowls that you will use when you eat. Make separate stacks for each plate by size. The storage space for these materials should be in a suitable place where you don’t have to struggle to get to it.
You can keep your glasses in mugs in separate places or store them in the same place if size allows. In general, you want to avoid stacking these, but if you must, ensure that this area is also within a reasonable reach.
How to Organize Your Silverware
Keep all silverware in the same drawer on the same level as the countertop. You don’t want to reach for these because you will likely have knives in this drawer. You can get several kinds of organizers that contain separate places for forks, knives, and spoons of different sizes.
It will also help you if you can organize the silverware by size and type. For example, the organizer you get might allow you to store dessert spoons or butter knives and steak knives separately.
How to Organize Your Tupperware and Plastic Containers
Stack Tupperware according to size and keep the lids to the corresponding Tupperware close by. Some organizers can help you keep Tupperware separate in a drawer and make storage easier.
Keeping these organized will prevent you from searching for the right size you need for leftover food and searching for the corresponding lid. Keep the Tupperware you’re likely to use more often where you can easily find it.
How to Organize Under Your Sink
People usually keep the cleaning supplies they need for their kitchen and house under their sink. There are cleaning supplies you’ll need for more routine cleaning, and others you’ll need less often for more specific messes and maintenance.
You can organize the areas under your sink by getting rid of empty cans, bottles, or boxes. From there, put the supplies you need less often and for more specific cases towards the back, near the sink’s pipes. Then, put the cleaning supplies you’ll need daily or weekly near the front.
You will also want to store all of your cleaning supplies with their labels facing the front, so they are easy to read and identify. Keeping the supplies you need closest to the front and having the labels face the front makes it convenient for you to find what you’re looking for during routine clean-up.
How to Organize Your Pantry
Earlier, you cleaned out the expired and excess food from your pantry, and you also cleaned out the shelves or cabinets.
Many people like to put snacks from their pantries into plastic locking containers for storage. These containers are great for keeping food fresh, but they take up space in your pantry. Only purchase containers if you are diligent about refilling the contents. If not, empty containers will only take up space on your shelves.
Group the foods in your pantry by use. For example, put all of the baking materials close together, or put all of your snacks in one space. When you open your pantry, you should know where to find what you’re looking for without having to check label after label.
Another great tool to get for your pantry is a label maker if you do use plastic containers. With a label maker, you can create a sign for what is inside the container. If you have many of these containers, some contents can look similar, so a label maker will help identify what is inside.
You can also include the expiration date of the product inside so you can check if it is still good to eat. When kept organized and refilled, containers can help you make a systematic pantry where finding food is easy.
Keeping an organized kitchen is a matter of efficiency and safety. While being one of the warmest places in your home to have families and friends together, it can become a health concern if you don’t look after it. Routine cleaning and organizing will keep your kitchen simple, efficient, and organized so you can use your kitchen with confidence.