Maybe you were one of the people who binge-watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, a show that followed Japanese cleaning guru Kondo as she helped people clear their homes of clutter. Or maybe you were obsessed with her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which detailed her process of getting rid of unnecessary things. Or perhaps you’re interested in reading her follow-up book Spark Joy, which goes into even further detail, going room by room and giving tips for decluttering your kitchen and bath and everything in between.
Kondo’s show and books are such a hit because so many people feel they have too much stuff. But the process of paring down can be daunting. True, it will definitely take time but the benefits should be enough to convince you to go through the process.
The Benefits of a Clutter-Free Space
As anyone who’s ever gotten rid of the unnecessary in their life will tell you, decluttering has some pretty amazing effects aside from clearing up space; Kondo even says that this act can pave the way for you to get rid of the non-physical clutter in your life—excess weight, toxic relationships, and the like. While much of the “proof” in Kondo’s book are anecdotal, science seems to back it up: A study at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that a cluttered environment restricted focus and could bring about feelings of annoyance and frustration. So, clearing your space of physical clutter can also help you clear some headspace.
Other benefits of decluttering include saving you time (you don’t have to waste precious minutes going through mountains of folders for a specific file) and saving money (you avoid buying doubles of items you didn’t remember you had).
In the case of your kitchen, decluttering can save you money by preventing wastage—you can see leftovers and ingredients that are nearing expiration more easily, so you can consume them instead of throwing them out. Plus, it can make for a safer, more hygienic cooking environment. After all, sinks constantly piled high with dirty dishes or countertops crowded with stuff don’t make an ideal place for food prep!
Decluttering Your Kitchen Guide
Ready to say goodbye to your kitchen clutter? Try following these tips:
1 Keep cleanliness in mind. You know how grease from when you cook gets on everything? Before long, all the stuff surrounding your stove will be covered in a sticky film. Kondo got a eureka moment after observing chefs at work in professional kitchens: The space should emphasize ease of cleaning, not ease of use. That means keeping most, if not all, things in cabinets and drawers. (Those with large countertops can afford to keep a few things out in the open.) So keep unnecessary or infrequently used items tucked away and your kitchen will look like it has significantly less clutter—and you won’t have to spend so much time wiping down and around objects!
2 Consider your lifestyle. Think about what you and your family do on a daily basis, and how this is tied to kitchen use: How many meals do you have at home? How often do you cook? How many people have a cup of coffee or tea in the morning? How often do you entertain? Do you typically have a lot of leftovers? From there, you can decide how many sets of plates and cutlery you really need, how many mugs and teacups should be within easy reach, and how many food storage containers is a reasonable number to have.
Get rid of things you don’t, and will likely never, use—toss out plastic tubs with missing covers, for one. And do make use of the things that you do have. Got fancy plates that you only save for the rare special occasion? Use them more often! The real waste is when you just allow your stuff to gather dust.
3 Group things together properly. Put all your cookware together, all your tableware together, and all your food together. From there, you can work out subcategories, such as dry goods, spices, snacks and store accordingly.
4 Be smart about storage. Once you have an idea of the amount of stuff you have, you can determine the best way to store them. As a general rule, store your frequently used items within easy reach, while items you rarely use (that panini press, for example) can be stored in less accessible spots like higher cabinets.
Maximize cabinets and take advantage of vertical space by using racks and risers. Like the look of clear glass jars for your dry goods? Go for squarish containers instead of round ones as the latter tend to waste a lot of space. Also make sure the containers are big enough to hold your pantry essentials; otherwise, you’ll be needing even more space to store the remnants in their packaging.
Other possible storage solutions: Hang pots and pans from S-hooks from the ceiling. Use the inside of cabinet doors to hang rolls of paper towels and foil. If you have a narrow bit of wall in your kitchen, consider having a pullout pantry custom-made to give life to a dead space.
Decluttering your kitchen and house can seem like a monumental task but the pay-off is worth it. Cooking and cleaning will be faster and easier, and you’ll be able to save some pesos. And as Kondo says, clearing the clutter from your home makes room for better things to come in!