How To Declutter Dishes

Today's mission is to declutter dishes. We'll focus during this task on everyday items, like plates, bowls, and saucers.


Kitchen Cabinet & Drawer Organization Challenge
This task is designed to be done while working on the Kitchen Cabinet & Drawer Organization Challenge, which is part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge here on the site.

To make sure you understand what this task does, and does not encompass, don't worry about glasses, cups and coffee mugs today. Those will be done tomorrow.

We've already worked on silverware in an earlier mission, and in a later mission we'll focus on fine china, so again, don't focus on those today.

But we will be doing both adult dishes and kids dishes in today's mission, so make sure you look in both types of cabinets or drawers in your home when working through today's task.

In addition, to the extent you've got special occasion dishes, like for specific holidays or similar things, these are also included in today's task, although if you have that many dishes you may need to focus on one set at a time instead of trying to tackle it all at once.

How Many Sets Of Dishes Should I Keep?

How to declutter dishes from your kitchen, with things to consider and items not to forget when doing this mission {part of the #Declutter365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
One of the first questions I hear when we do this mission is, how many sets of dishes should I keep, and how many place settings?

I get really uncomfortable answering questions like this because the answer is, "it depends." It depends on so many different factors, in fact, that stating a rule of thumb is really not very easy to do.

So instead of giving a hard and fast rule, with lots of exceptions and caveats, I'm going to instead lay out the things you should consider when deciding how many dishes your household needs. Hopefully this will help you find the balance between too many and too few.
  • How many sets do you currently have? How many place settings do you have for each of those sets?

  • How much room do you have for storage of these dishes, both inside your kitchen and outside the kitchen, such as in your dining room?

  • How many people regularly eat meals in your home, and how many meals per day do you serve?

  • How often do have guests that you entertain and serve food?

  • How often do you want to wash dishes? (Remember to keep your kitchen clean you realistically need to wash dishes every night, or at least load your dishwasher every night, so how many dishes can you fit in your dishwasher may be a better question to ask instead of how often do you want to wash dishes.)

  • Do you want all your dishes to match, or do you like or at least not mind mismatched sets?

  • Do you need microwave safe and dishwasher safe dishes? Do you avoid using your dishes that don't have these features in everyday use?
Using all of these criteria you can make a determination about how many dishes you believe you'll really use regularly, and how many are excess and therefore clutter in your kitchen.

Once you've decided how many to keep, winnow it down to that amount. Keep only the best of the best, your favorites, and the ones you use regularly. Then, get rid of the others so you can have more space in your kitchen cabinets and drawers.

A Few Additional Tips To Make You Feel More Comfortable With Your Decisions

If you are uncomfortable or waffling back and forth with the decisions you've made you can always try it out without it being permanent. You can give yourself a trial period with the smaller number of dishes, with the ones you're pretty sure you want to get rid of packed up and away safely somewhere else for a time, such as six months.

If you find out you've winnowed it down too much, no harm done. Get in your box and bring some of them back out. If, on the other hand, you don't miss them, and instead continue to enjoy the emptier cabinets, then you can with more confidence get rid of that box of excess dishes after the time period has ended.

In addition I understand wanting to keep dish sets together. It makes sense if you have 8 place settings of everything to not split it up, in case you want to pass it on later, or sell it. Full sets are much more appreciated than partial sets. BUT remember that you don't have to keep all 8 place settings in your kitchen cabinets. Instead, if you've determined that 6 place settings of one set makes more sense for you then pack up the other two place settings and store them somewhere for later. You can have the daily benefit of less cluttered cabinets without actually splitting up the set permanently.

Special Note About Kids & Holiday Dishes

When you've got young kids you probably will acquire some kid-friendly dishes that they can use so they don't break your better stuff, or because they like them.

There's no problem with that, but as they get older and you transition them to the adult dishes make sure you get rid of the kid stuff once it is no longer needed.

Similarly, if you have holiday dishes and you have room for them, use them each year, and enjoy them, go ahead and keep them. If they meet all these criteria they aren't clutter. But seriously consider whether they actually meet all these criteria or if it is time to let them go. When it feels more like drudgery to get them out and use them than the beginning of the festive season it is most likely going to make you feel better to get them out of your home.

Finally, dishes are often associated with strong memories and emotions. If you feel like emotions are holding you back from decluttering some of them make sure to read my article about 6 emotions chaining you to clutter, and how to break free. Hopefully that can help you make decisions based not on these emotions, but instead what is best for you and your home.

Below I've got some photos from readers who've already done this mission to get you inspired and ready to tackle your own dishes!

Top photo courtesy of gifrancis, and photo of cabinet courtesy of a reader, Maggie

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to kitchen clutter.

Results When Readers Did This Mission

Here are some of the dishes that readers who've already done this mission have decided to get out of their homes.

The photo above is from Angela, who explained, "Donation pile and some things for when the 18 year old leaves me."

That's a good point if you're trying to figure out what to do with dishes once you get rid of them. You can sell them, donate them, or give them to a friend or family member that is setting up their own household, as just a few ideas.

Here's another photo, this one from Fiona, who struggled with getting rid of certain dishes because she'd received them as a gift. She explained, "I did the plates and bowls yesterday without knowing it was the daily challenge! Have pulled out all the Poole china that my lovely late mother in law bought us during the first years of our marriage. Never had the heart to tell her we weren't that in to it! The plain white China I bought when I first left home is still going strong 25 years later. Like others I am now very bored with the Poole and really only use the dinner plates as back ups when the White stuff is all dirty. Gonna sell it and buy just 4 more really nice plates which will bring us to 10 which is plenty."

Dishes that Fiona decided to get rid of as part of the Declutter Dishes mission on Home Storage Solutions 101


Finally, here's a photo from Jennifer, who said she was sending all of these to Oxfam.

Dishes decluttered as part of the #Declutter365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to kitchen clutter.

Removing Dish Clutter From Your Kitchen Makes A Huge Difference

Dishes take up a lot of room, so getting rid of excess that aren't needed or loved, but instead of clutter, can make a big difference in your kitchen.

You can see that from these before and after photos submitted by a reader, Jennifer, when she decluttered her dishes cabinet.

Before and after when decluttered dishes cabinet as part of the #Declutter365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Are You Ready To Declutter Your Home?

declutter 365
I hope seeing these pictures, and reading these instructions, has inspired you to get rid of your dishes clutter.

When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.

I've got a whole series of 15 minute decluttering missions (eventually 365 of them!) that you can do.

Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Kitchen Clutter Hall Of Fame

Go From How To Declutter Dishes To Home Page

Comments for Removing Dish Clutter From Your Kitchen Makes A Huge Difference

Click here to add your own comments

donate to bake sales
by: margatet

I take unwanted plates and recycle them when I donate to bake sales. Quicker sale on a nice plate.

I am inspired now to declutter!
by: Granny Carolyn

There are 4 of us and the youngest is 7 years old and he is getting interested in using the "fancy" dishes. We often use paper plates, so I am ready to just keep 4 plates (in case we run out of paper plates. I will keep 4 cereal bowls (not matched because everyone has a favorite bowl.) And 4 small plates. Don't need saucers and cups sets. Do need 4 coffee mugs. Need 4 glasses. If yours is dirty, wash it. I am inspired by the less cluttered pictures of the cabinets AND the dining table. Thank you.

Selling dishes
by: SusieQ

I have several sets of dishes boxed, but don't know how to sell them. Replacements Ltd. gave me great quotes, but to box them safely to ship? Probably not. Our local antique mall won't give me the names of any dealers, because they can't play favorites with their vendors.

Question
by: Lynne

What is Oxfam? You said some dishes were boxed and ready to send to Oxfam. I have boxed sets of China that I would like to sell but found that Replacements will only buy individual pieces, not sets. Consignment shops don't want them. No luck on Craigslist either.

Selling dishes
by: Donna DeGan

We've sold things on eBay for a number of years and I've sold a lot of dishes, including several nice sets. I packed them very carefully using packing paper and bubble wrap, and they all made it just fine when shipped. Shipping is expensive though and you have to make sure you get enough money from the buyer for shipping, or it will really eat into your profits.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to kitchen clutter.


Get Email Updates & Newsletter

home puzzle

Let me help you put the pieces of your home puzzle together. Join over 200,000 others and get tips, articles and organizing challenges sent directly to your inbox to help you get your house in order. Plus, you'll get a free 12 month declutter calendar for 2016!


Let's Stay Connected!

follow Home Storage Solutions 101 with RSS be a fan of Home Storage Solutions 101 on Facebook follow Home Storage Solutions 101 on Twitter

follow Home Storage Solutions 101 on G+ Follow Taylor on Pinterest follow Taylor on Instagram

Join Over 200,000 Others And Get Organized Starting Today With Tips From My Newsletter

Join The Declutter 365 Facebook Group (100,000+ Members)