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How To Declutter Your Kitchen Cabinets

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Today's mission is to declutter kitchen cabinets, but really that is a mission that we've been working on for quite a few days.

It is also not the kind of mission I think you could get done in 15 minutes total (at least not for all the cabinets in your whole kitchen), but instead, 15 minutes at a time. Hence, the reason we've been working on it for several days already, and will continue into the future as well.

Kitchen Drawer & Cabinet Organization Challenge
Before I tell you more though, please note that this Declutter 365 mission is designed to be done while working on the Kitchen Cabinet and Drawer Organization Challenge here on the site.

I've designed this day's mission to be somewhat of a catchall, because although I can say what "typically" people keep in their kitchen cabinets, I cannot say what you keep in your cabinets. So today is a day to catch up or tackle something else we haven't addressed.

Declutter 365 Missions Related To Kitchen Cabinets To Break This Task Down Further

So you don't get overwhelmed though remember that according to the Declutter 365 calendar we have already, or will in the future (soon) tackle the following areas which may address some of your cabinet clutter.
We're also focused in these kitchen cabinet declutter missions on non-food types of items.

I understand that some people use their kitchen cabinets as a pantry, but we'll address food types of cupboards as well as more traditional pantries in the Pantry Organization Challenge later, and you can get more ideas for decluttering food from your pantry or cabinet shelves here.

Why You Must Break Down Decluttering Kitchen Cabinets Into Smaller Steps

So why have I broken down the task of decluttering kitchen cabinets into much smaller tasks? Simple, if you try to tackle all of your kitchen cabinets at once you'll get overwhelmed quickly, burn out, and potentially leave a huger mess in your wake than if you'd just left it all the way it was.

For example, a reader, Kelly sent in this photo, saying, "Seriously? All of that was crammed into one cabinet? Feeling overwhelmed!"

All of this stuff came out of one kitchen cabinet. That's why you should NEVER tackle more than one cabinet at a time when decluttering or you'll get overwhelmed.

Now imagine if she'd pulled out all of the stuff from all of the kitchen cabinets at once, only had a couple of hours to work on the task, and then was supposed to cook dinner. Woah, that would have been a huge mess.

That's why I advocate 15 minutes at a time, and just one cabinet, or even one shelf of one cabinet, at a time.

Below I will tell you the step by step instructions for how to declutter your cabinets in a way that works, yet will not make a huger mess and will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

Top photos courtesy of a reader, Jennifer

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Step By Step Instructions For Removing Kitchen Cabinet Clutter

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So you're ready to declutter your cabinets? Great! You can click the links above to get more ideas and instructions for decluttering or organizing the various specific things found in cabinets, but the instructions below will work for organizing any type of kitchen cabinets, generally.

So grab your timer, set it for 15 minutes, and let's get started!

Step 1: Choose One Cabinet, Or One Shelf Only

I'm repeating this, because it is such a big deal -- do not try to tackle all of your kitchen cabinets or shelves at once. You will regret it.

Instead, choose only one smaller area to work on. Yes, it may seem like you'll backtrack this way, when you come across yet another pot when you thought you'd already done the pots, and I suppose you will. But that will be minor compared to the total upheaval trying to do it all at the same time will cause.

Step 2: Take Everything Out In That One Little Area

Once you've chosen a manageable area to declutter take everything out of that one space, and only the items in that one space.

Step 3: Quickly Clean Up Crumbs & Dust While Cabinet Empty

How often do you actually empty your cabinets? Not very often typically. So use this rare opportunity while it is emptied to do a very quick clean up of dust, crumbs, and other debris in there.

You can also add shelf liners if you wish, but it is definitely not necessary, and if that is going to slow you down too much don't do it now.

Step 4: Evaluate The Items You Removed From The Cabinet And Make Each One "Earn" Its Way Back

You don't have to evaluate each item too long, and ideally you won't, but when evaluating you are asking yourself questions like, how often do you use this? Is it broken or significantly damaged? Do you like it? Do you have duplicates? Do you have space for this?, etc.

The most important things to keep in your kitchen are items you actually use daily or at least quite frequently. The less often you use something the more of an indication that it needs to "earn" its spot to stay in your kitchen.

Make sure to have a trash bag ready for trash, another box or container for donations or for selling, and yet another container to place items you want to keep but do not belong in your kitchen cabinets. (You can read the article on how to declutter for more instructions on this.)

Step 5: Replace All Items You've Decided To Keep Into The Cabinet

What, you ask? Aren't I supposed to add fancy organizational products now, and get everything I've kept organized?

The answer is, no, not quite yet, but eventually.

It is true that the first step in every organizational project around your home is to declutter.

But it is better to fully declutter first, or at least fully declutter a specific type of item, before you begin to organize too much.

For example, if you have pots and pans in 3 different cabinets, and have only tackled one of the cabinets so far, even if it is the main pots and pans cabinet, it is not time to organize them yet.

Instead, wait until you've dealt with all the pots and pans in the various cabinets, and then perhaps evaluate them quickly one more time once you've gathered them all up into one place, to make sure you still are happy with your decisions when seeing everything all together, before you begin to organize them.

But it is important not to leave things in chaos when you're in the decluttering process, which is why you need to at the least return everything you didn't declutter back into the cabinet once you're done with that one section, before you work on the next section.

As you work on this project in small steps and chunks you will slowly see the project come together and in the mean time, as you need to use your kitchen for regular everyday functions, like cooking and eating, you won't have made so much of a mess that it makes it more difficult to use the room effectively.

Step 6: Repeat All The Steps Again

I think I've already given away the punch line about why you need to repeat the decluttering steps again, based on our discussion of step 5. But basically, when you tackle a big decluttering project like your kitchen cabinets you've got to work in layers.

You've got to get rid of the majority of the clutter in each individual small areas first. Then you'll have more room to group like things together and see everything you've got left as a whole. This often results in another smaller round or two of decluttering as you winnow it down further and further as you work on the project.

Then, once everything is grouped together and decluttered, it will be time to organize what you've got left.

This may sound a bit overwhelming, but trust me, 15 minutes at a time, and doing it in these small chunks, really works, and keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and discouraged!

To get you inspired to tackle your own kitchen cabinet clutter check out some images sent in by participants of the Declutter 365 missions and 52 Week Organized Home Challenge showing their results, and what they achieved in their homes in just 15 minutes at a time.

Photos courtesy of a reader, Kelly

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20 Minutes To Remove All This Clutter From Just Two Cabinets!

by Geneviève
(Gatineau, Québec, Canada)

cooking tools and small appliances

cooking tools and small appliances

Today I spent 20 minutes to declutter two of my kitchen cabinets, one that contains small kitchen appliances and the other one is full of baby stuff such as baby bottle, pacifiers and drinking goblets.

We no longer need the baby bottles and the pacifiers, my younger son is no longer using them and my brother will soon have his first child, so he will be very pleased to receive all that stuff.

The small appliances and kitchen tools I don't use will go to charity.

So, here are 2 pictures of what I got rid of. All that in 2 cabinets.

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Now Nothing Is In Danger Of Falling Out When I Open The Cabinet!

by Sandra

Before and after of decluttered kitchen cabinets, from a participant in the #Declutter365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

A reader, Sandra, sent in her before and after photos when she tackled one of her kitchen cabinets. She said, "I tossed some things, moved others to a more useful shelf, and put the rest in the giveaway pile.

Here's the after, where I can actually reach all my pots & pans, I can close the doors, and nothing is threatening to slide out all over my kitchen floor."

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I Now Have Two Totally Empty Cabinets!

by Suki

Once you do several 15 minute decluttering sessions you may just be surprised how much space you clear from your kitchen cabinets.

In fact, one reader, Suki, sent in this photo saying, "I have two EMPTY cabinets now!"

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Straightened Up Cabinets: Bry Rocked It!

by Bry

Bry from Team Collard shared before and after pictures after accepting this week's challenge.

She says: "I feel like I got loads accomplished this week, and it feels really good to open my drawers and cupboards and find what I'm looking for rather than digging around."

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Lots Of Clutter Gone & Realizations About What It Means To Be Organized

by Reecea



Reecea from Fresh Juniper showed off the transformation of her cabinets.

She removed a lot of clutter and junk from them which really made a huge difference for her.

She explained: "One thing I noticed about getting stuff organized is this: You realize what you have and don't have.

For example, I had three full boxes of disposable forks, knives, and spoons. Why? I don't really know the answer.

I have learned that I have double and triple of some things for no apparent reason. On the other hand, there were things needed that weren't purchased.

Conclusion? Getting organized and staying that way will save me money. What we need will be purchased and we won't waste as much money, time, and space buying and storing stuff we don't need.

Plus, she got to give a lot of what she considered clutter to someone who would use it. She explained that her daughter had recently moved out on her own. "Her timing was perfect, and she is the happy recipient of many of the items that have been 'decluttered' from this house."

She really needed the extra dishes, hot pads, dish towels, laundry detergent, assorted groceries, silverware, pots and pans, George Foreman Grill, and an extremely cool transparent pink, blue, and green acrylic set of salt and pepper shakers."

Great job Reecea!

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Are You Ready To Get Rid Of The Clutter In Your Kitchen Cabinets Now?

Want To Do More Decluttering Missions? Get Started With Declutter 365 Today!

Declutter 365 missions: 15 minute missions for your entire home

Once you declutter one type of item in your home I bet you'll want to declutter some more. After all, decluttering gives you a great reward for even a small investment of time and energy.

The Declutter 365 system is designed to help you declutter, over the course of a year, your entire house, with just 15 minutes of decluttering each day!

Hundreds of thousands of people use this proven system to get rid of their clutter, and bring peace and calm back to their homes.

Declutter 365 works to guide you to clear the clutter without overwhelm, focusing on just one small area at a time, and without making a huge mess in the process, so you see consistent forward progress without all that "messy middle" that makes it even harder to function in your home than before you started.

In addition to building a daily decluttering habit, the Declutter 365 program, along with the accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, teaches you the skills, habits, routines, and mindsets necessary to maintain the clutter free and organized state of your home from now on, so it'll never be as messy and cluttered as it is right now, ever again.

If you haven't already, make sure to get your copy of this year's Declutter 365 annual calendar here (it's FREE!), find today's date, and do 15 minutes of decluttering on the day's mission. Then, repeat again tomorrow, and again and again. Over the course of the next year, if you do this 15 minutes per day, you'll declutter your whole house!

Click here to take me to this year's Declutter 365 calendar

Get This Kitchen Decluttering Checklist + 32 Other Decluttering Checklists For Your Home

Right now you're decluttering your kitchen, and there's a lot of stuff to declutter in this space.

Get your 2 page kitchen decluttering checklist, plus 32 other decluttering checklists, to help you declutter your entire home here.

Get this kitchen decluttering checklist and 32 other decluttering checklists for your home {on Home Storage Solutions 101}

I've done the hard work of breaking down these tasks into smaller more manageable steps for you, so you don't get overwhelmed or worry you're forgetting a task, and you can go at the pace you want, whether that's fast or slow.

In addition, you can tackle these decluttering tasks in whatever order you want when you use these checklists!

Click here to learn more about 33 Decluttering Checklists Pack

Photo courtesy of a reader, Kelly

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Kitchen Clutter Hall Of Fame

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Comments for Are You Ready To Get Rid Of The Clutter In Your Kitchen Cabinets Now?

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"earn it"
by: Bev

I think the most important and the most valuable lesson I learned today was that when de-cluttering your kitchen, an item has to 'earn' space in your cabinet. If you don't use it on a weekly or daily basis, then it needs to go to a place outside of the kitchen (like a shelf in the basement, garage, pantry...etc.) For bread machine was in one of my cabinets, but I only use it once a month, so I put it on a shelf in the basement...and then I can get it when I need it and I know exactly where it is!

donating angel food cake pan
by: Anonymous

My husband asked about the angel food cake pan in the donate box. I told him that I hadn't used it in 20 years. He asked, "What if I want an angel food cake for my birthday?" I told him that I would BUY him an angel food cake! He said, "You sound like my mom. When did that happen?"

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When you work through the Declutter 365 missions, and accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenges, you'll be able to declutter your home one mission at a time, organize what's left, and learn the skills, habits and routines to maintain your space from now on.

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