Cleaning and Organizing your Kitchen Cabinets

Having clean and organized cabinets will not only make you feel better when you look at how beautiful it looks, but it will also make your life easier.

Just imagine being able to open the cabinet and see exactly what you have and what you need in just a glance.

Cleaning and organizing your kitchen cabinets and pantry

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Cleaning and organizing the pantry

  • Step one – Remove everything from the pantry

Step one is always going to be to remove everything from the area.  You can’t clean and organize clutter!!!!  So remove everything.

As you are removing items check the expiration dates on the containers.  If it’s expired throw it out.  If it’s something you won’t use throw it out or put it in a box to donate it.

For everything else you’re removing put like items together.  For example, all spices, all boxed goods, all canned goods, etc.  Just organize these items on your counters, floor, or wherever you have space to spread out.

cleaning and organizing your kitchen cabinets
  • Step 2 – Wash down the shelves

Before you bring anything back into the space you are going to want to clean all surfaces.  Start by vacuuming up all dust and debris on the shelves and floor.  Then use either a disinfecting spray or wipes and clean all the shelves, walls and the floor of your pantry.

Step 3 – Develop a plan for storage

We cleaned your pantry now it’s time to organize it.  Look at what you have left that you need to store in the pantry.  Hopefully, you purged a lot of unnecessary items as you where removing them.  😉 

Because you organized everything on the way out, it should be easy for you to see what types of items you have to store.  These could be canned goods, baking items, snacks, oils, potatoes, etc. 

Decide what items you want to store together on a shelf or how many shelves you need for a particular category and make a plan.

cleaning and organizing your kitchen cabinets

Make a list of anything you need to shop for to help organize your items.  For example, do you need bins for your root veggies, a riser for your spices, or shelf dividers to break up items? 

Now is also a good time to add food items you need to replace to your list.  If you have these items on hand then go grab them.  If not you can either shop now or just make a mental note of where you will put them when you do get them.

Cleaning and organizing kitchen cabinets and pantry
  • Step 4 – Start loading the shelves

Before you add anything back into the pantry, use your wipes or a damp cloth and clean off all the box tops, cans, and anything else you’re putting back in.

Start adding items back into the pantry using the plan you developed in the previous step.  As you add items check the dates and put the oldest items in front of newer items.  This way when you grab that can of green beans you will use up the oldest can first.  Likewise, when you shop for new items always store them behind what you already have.

Make any adjustments needed as you fill up the shelves and add items to your list as you see fit.

Step 5 – Decide if something doesn’t belong

Just because you took something out of the pantry doesn’t mean it belongs there.  Maybe you stored paper goods in the pantry but you don’t really have room for them.  Would they make more sense in the hall closet?  Or maybe your baking pans that are stuffed in a kitchen cabinet would fit nicely in the pantry?  Take a quick inventory and make any changes as necessary.

Cleaning and organizing kitchen cabinets

clean and organize your kitchen cabinets
  • Step 1 – Empty and purge the cabinets

This task is going to feel like things are getting worse before they get better because I want you to clean out all the cabinets at once. 

I say this because if you’re not at all organized, then you are going to have items in different cabinets that should be stored together in one.  You wouldn’t notice this if you where cleaning one cabinet at a time.  So hang in there.  It will be worth the mess, I promise.

Just as before the first step is going to be to remove everything from the cabinets and purge outdated items as you go.  Throw away or donate items you don’t use.  If you have items that you only use occasionally such as holiday items consider an alternate location if space is limited.

Step 2 – Wash down the shelves

Even though I wanted you to clear all the cabinets at once I want you to start with one cabinet at a time to put them back together.  Pick a cabinet and wash down all the surfaces.  If you clean and organize one cabinet at a time it will be much easier than trying to organize them all at once.

Step 3 – Develop a plan for storage

Start with this one cabinet and decide what is going in it.  Think about how you use your kitchen.  For example, you will want to store items you use for cooking near the stove. 

Store items for cleaning under the sink. 

Put all your prepping bowls near your prep area. 

Only you can decide what works best for you.

Make a list of items you will need to organize the cabinet such as containers and risers.

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Step 4 – Start loading the shelves

Gather all the items that make sense in this space.  Organize and clean the items as you load the shelves.  All bowls together, glasses, utensils, ingredients for your morning coffee, etc.  Whatever works for how you use your kitchen.

Repeat these steps for the rest of your cabinets.

cleaning and organizing your kitchen cabinets
  • Step 5 – Decide if something doesn’t belong

Because you are doing one cabinet at a time you may notice that you are left with items that don’t make sense in any of the spaces.  This is a good indication that they don’t belong in this room anyway.  Find another area of the house where they would fit better.

Congratulations!  You did it.  Now sit back and admire the great job you did cleaning and organizing your cabinets and pantry.


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For some great tips to clear out all the areas of your home, check out my post “How to declutter

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