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How to Declutter Your Kitchen

Are you wondering how to declutter your kitchen cabinets and countertops without getting overwhelmed by the process? Read on to learn six easy steps that will allow you to declutter your kitchen efficiently. These decluttering tips will help you get rid of unused items, clean out your space, and better organize what you need.


How do I start to declutter my kitchen?

It is so easy to get overwhelmed when trying to declutter your kitchen. Before starting, it’s essential to set reasonable expectations and choose just one section of your kitchen to work with at a time. It’s usually not feasible to tackle a whole kitchen at once. Realistically, it will depend on the size of your kitchen and the number of things you have to decide how to split it up. 

To start the decluttering process, you will need to pull all of the items out of each cabinet or shelf to see what you actually have. Doing so will also allow you to clean out the space and decide if you need a better organization system in each of your different storage areas. For example, some people like to use many Tupperware-style containers, whereas others like to have everything organized.

Related: Our free decluttering checklist will help you declutter every room faster. 

How to declutter a kitchen step by step


Step 1: Determine Your Strategy

declutter a kitchen step by step

Decluttering can be an overwhelming process. You might be asking yourself, where do I even start? How long is it going to take? Because of questions like this, your first step should be to determine your decluttering strategy. First, think about how long you have to work on the process and what you could realistically get done. Then, break it down into smaller chunks.

Instead of getting overwhelmed by tackling your entire kitchen at one time, consider instead starting with a more reasonable strategy such as one set of cabinets or shelves. This will allow you to make good progress without making a huge mess and running out of time.


Mental health and decluttering

In terms of mental health, it is much easier to tackle one section of your kitchen at a time so that you can feel accomplished with what you were able to get done.

To determine your broader strategy, think about what you hope to get out of the decluttering process. For example, are you overwhelmed by the number of cooking utensils you have? Do you need more space on your kitchen counter? Do you struggle to find what you are looking for while cooking?

Are you constantly having to throw out expired food that you forgot about because it got pushed to the back of the cabinet? Decluttering your kitchen can help establish a cleaner kitchen, but it requires you to think about what you can throw away and what’s meaningful to you. It will also prevent you from wasting money by throwing out unused, expired products before you could use them up.

Especially if you have a small kitchen, it can so quickly feel cluttered. Determining your strategy will help set you up for success with decluttering your kitchen realistically and reasonably given your time constraints without getting overwhelmed and wanting to quit the entire process.


Step 2: Gather the Supplies

Gather the Supplies to declutter your kitchen

As part of the decluttering process, you will need to gather the necessary supplies. Examples of items to collect:

  • Trash bags
  • Donation box
  • Garage sale box
  • Cleaning supplies – disinfecting spray, rags, cleaning spray or wipes, cleaning gloves, etc.

In your decluttering process, you will need to throw away a lot of stuff. For this reason, be sure to have plenty of trash bags handy to dispose of all the unwanted items you find quickly.

As you are decluttering, you will find things that you do not need or use anymore but are still in good condition. Then you have a choice. Do you want to donate the item, or do you plan to have a garage sale and want to try to sell the item? Either way, you will need a box or carton to store the items to get them out of the way as you are decluttering.


Remember cleaning supplies

You will also need to get some cleaning products before you embark upon your decluttering journey. As you remove items from your kitchen cabinets and shelves, you’ll almost certainly want to take the opportunity to clean those forgotten spaces as well. Write a list of all the supplies you might need and pick them up before you get started on decluttering.

Decluttering your cupboards will reveal new spaces to clean that are typically not routinely cleaned. You may need to gather cleaning sprays or wipes, rags, cleaning gloves, and other cleaning items so that you can efficiently declutter and clean your kitchen.

By gathering your supplies ahead of time, you will not waste time in the middle of decluttering, having to stop and get the necessary supplies. Instead, you will be ready and efficient in your decluttering process. Clean your counter space, small appliances, large appliances, kitchen drawers, and kitchen cabinets.


Step 3: Remove the Clutter

steps to declutter a kitchen

After determining your decluttering strategy and gathering the necessary supplies, you are ready to begin the decluttering process. The third step is to remove all the items from your targeted area. Once you are prepared to tackle that first area, start removing everything to a designated drop zone.

This will be where you place the items to sort through them later and decide what you want to keep, give away, sell, or throw away. Sometimes seeing all the items in one space can help you determine what you need. You may be overwhelmed by the number of things you see, including some items you never use or that are duplicated, but take a deep breath and continue working. Don’t let the overwhelming feelings discourage you. 


Cleaning Opportunity

This is also another reason not to try to tackle your entire kitchen at one time. Setting realistic plans will help you make progress without getting overwhelmed and just giving up.

Removing all the items from the cabinet or shelf will also allow you to deep clean the space without working around the items in the space. For example, if you want to add shelf liners, now is the time to do it. Likewise, if you need to deep clean your fridge, removing all of the food will allow you to clean your fridge shelves better.

If you have a lot of clutter in your kitchen, removing all the items may be difficult. Choose a section to start with and then work on moving the items to the drop zone. At this point, you are just moving the stuff. You do not have to decide what you will keep and what you will get rid of.


Step 4: Sort the Items

steps to declutter kitchen

Now that you’ve removed all of the items from the selected section, you are ready to sort the items. You can now see all of the stuff in one place, which helps make decisions in the decluttering process.

The first question to ask yourself as you are sorting the items is whether each item is something you need to keep. Is this an item that you regularly use? For example, is the food still fresh, or is it expired? You may find that you have duplicates of certain kitchen gadgets or too much stuff that you don’t actually use. For example, do you need two drawers full of dish towels? Duplicated items can significantly contribute to kitchen clutter.

If the item is not something you need to keep, your next decision is whether it still has some useful life left in it where you could give it away or try to sell it. If the item is still good, but you do not need it, you can put it in the donation box if you plan to donate it to someone else or a local thrift store.


Garage Sale Potential

Alternatively, you may decide that you have enough items to make a garage sale worth your time. If that is the case, you may want to place your unwanted items in a garage sale box.

It’s essential to be realistic about what you actually use versus what you can get rid of. Decluttering some items may be easy, but other decisions may be more difficult. The benefit of seeing the items all in one place is that you can easily see duplicated items or items you forgot you had in your house.

Some items quickly accumulate over time. For example, freebies such as water bottles or coffee mugs can quickly add up over time. Similarly, food storage containers can accumulate as well. If you have a junk drawer, that can quickly get out of hand, making it difficult to find what you are looking for and easy to forget what you have in the drawer.

Sorting the items will help you be able to find the remaining things easier. However, paper clutter can also quickly accumulate in a kitchen as well. As you are sorting through the papers, consider establishing a system to go through them regularly or picking another room in the house to keep the papers that need to be acted upon, instead of letting the junk mail pile up in the kitchen.


Step 5: Clean Out the Space

If you are working on decluttering kitchen cabinets and shelves, this is a great opportunity to clean them thoroughly. Once the items are all removed, now it is time to deep clean the space. You can easily wipe down the shelves and cabinets now that all of the items are out. In addition to cleaning the inside of the cabinets, be sure to wipe down the cabinet doors.

If you do not have shelf liners and want to install them, this is the perfect time to do so. You might be surprised how many crumbs can accumulate in drawers over time. If you are working to clean upper cabinets, use a step stool and a flashlight to ensure that you can see the entire wardrobe and clean all the crooks and crevices well.


Step 6: Put the Items You Will Keep Back in an Organized Manner

finish decluttering your kitchen

This step may take a big chunk of time, but it will be worth it. First, be sure to put the items back in a location that makes sense based on their usage and your kitchen layout. For example, do you store your small appliances on the kitchen counter or in a cabinet? Group like items together so that it is easier to grab them at the same time quickly.

You can organize your cookie sheets and cutting boards based on their size so that the same size items are stored together. This will make it easier to find the size item you need quickly. Also, consider keeping your baking items such as mixing bowls, measuring spoons, and muffin tins in the same area of the kitchen.

Dishes used regularly should be stored together for easy access. Less used serving dishes or baking ware should be stored separately. Some of the main things to consider are your daily habits and the kitchen items you regularly use. You want the decluttering process to serve you well and set your kitchen up for success.

The goal of decluttering is to help make your kitchen more functional and make it easier to find what you are looking for.


Kitchen Organization Ideas

Here are some kitchen organization ideas to help put the items you decided to keep back into your kitchen cabinets and shelves. First, consider what you use and where storing such items makes the most sense. Next, use your drawer space strategically. Finally, avoid dumping things into the drawer, making finding what you are looking for harder.

Instead, add dividers or a storage system so that you can quickly locate what you need to find. Next, stack your most commonly used dishes together for easy access. Consider stacking your coffee cups or buying a mug rag so that the mugs do not take up an abundance of space in your cabinets.

Finally, if you have multiples of a food item, put them in order by the expiration date to use the one that expires the soonest first. This will help eliminate food waste.


Tips for Decluttering a Kitchen

When it comes to decluttering your kitchen, it is easy to get overwhelmed. So here are some great ideas to help make the process go smoother and more efficient.


Tackle the Project in Stages

When you think of decluttering the whole house, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Instead, tackle the project in stages. Break it down beyond “I want to declutter my kitchen.” Get specific on the parts you want to tackle, and be sure to build in time for rest as well.


Enlist a Friend to Help

An overwhelming task can be hard to tackle on your own. Enlisting a friend to help you can make the project more fun. In addition, having a friend help you with the project can help you stay focused and tackle the clutter without losing steam. A friend can also help keep you on track without getting sidetracked by other projects in other rooms or trying to tackle decluttering the entire home at once.


Be Realistic

In addition to tackling the decluttering project in stages, it is also essential to be realistic. For example, if you have a large kitchen, it will likely take several days to declutter it completely. But, likewise, if you only have a little bit of time to work on it, that is okay. Just choose a realistic amount of space to tackle at a time.


Play Beat the Timer

If you struggle with decision fatigue, setting a timer can help you stay on track, focused, and make quick decisions. Just set a realistic timer, such as ten minutes to go through a certain cabinet, and aim to beat the timer. By making it a competition, you can help incentivize speed and stay on track with what could be seen as an overwhelming task.

Once you have finished that task, you can repeat the same thing with a new shelf or cabinet. By trying to beat the timer, you can get rid of overwhelm and keep making progress on your goal of decluttering your kitchen.


Decluttering Kitchen FAQ


What is the best way to declutter a kitchen?

The best way to declutter the kitchen is to be realistic and start with just one section. By focusing on a particular cabinet or shelf, you can systematically declutter your kitchen without getting overwhelmed in the process.


When decluttering a kitchen where do I start?

To start decluttering your kitchen, pull out all of the items in the cabinet or on the shelf so that you can see all that you have and assess whether you need to keep the item or not.


What is the best way to start decluttering?

The best way to start decluttering is to pull all of your stuff out in the kitchen so you can go through and decide what you actually use and should keep and what you need to get rid of.


What is the fastest way to clean and declutter?

The fastest way to clean and declutter is to start with just one section of your kitchen so that you are not overwhelmed by removing all of the items at one time.



Decluttering your kitchen is no easy feat. It is important to approach the task realistically. Waiting for perfect timing means it will never happen. Instead, make a realistic plan and jump into the process. Figure out what you can reasonably tackle at the time. Maybe you only have 30 minutes to work on the project each day or a few times per week.

That is okay. You can still make good progress on getting rid of excess stuff in your kitchen. However, before you start going through your kitchen items, you should gather the necessary supplies. This will prevent you from stopping work when you need to clean your cabinets or the fridge.

In addition, this will keep you from losing momentum as you are working on the decluttering project. Next, you should remove all the items from the area you are working on to decide what is staying and what is going more quickly. After you see all the items in the drop zone, you can more quickly go through them and decide what you plan to keep and what you need to get rid of.


Final Thoughts on Decluttering a Kitchen

After deciding what should go, you have to make the next decision of where the items should go. Is it broken or expired where it needs to be thrown away? Is there still life left in the item where someone else could use it and enjoy it? If so, do you want to sell the item or donate it or give it away to someone you know?

Once you have decided, it is time to replace the items that you intend to keep. You should replace them in an organized manner where it is easy to find the things you need with some kind of system you can maintain to help keep your space clean and organized.

Following these steps will help you efficiently declutter your kitchen. For more help on decluttering make sure to get our decluttering checklist


Next: How to declutter a garage

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