Tuesday, May 18, 2010

7 Areas for Easy Kitchen Spring Cleaning and Clutter Busting

Today’s spring cleaning topic is clutter. Who doesn’t have some of that? Hands up? Anyone?

Good to know I’m not alone.

Once upon a time I had a roommate who though my decorating style was sparse. I thought her style was cluttered. Who’s right? I don’t know. How do you know when you have too much clutter, not enough, or if everything’s just right?

For me it came down to one thing – kitchen towels.

One day I grabbed a fresh kitchen towel out of the drawer and lamented how worn and faded it was. The rest of the towels in the drawer looked just as pathetic. I decided right then and there to purge the worn kitchen towels as an incentive to replace them with new ones.

Guess what? I found that I had more than enough newer kitchen towels I deemed them “too pretty to use” (Help me - I’m turning into my mother!) and in the bottom of the kitchen drawer. I also found that I had enough to keep the towel rotation short so they wouldn't be so faded and worn in the long term.
After my kitchen towel clean out, it felt like I had more items not less, because I could find the nice towels easily and use the pretty ones every day.

Of course me being me, I cut the old towels in half and stashed them under the sink to use instead of paper towels. Save a tree, save some money, creative reuse, and all that stuff - high fives all the way around.

But finding new stuff in my old stuff gave me the incentive to purge each area in my kitchen. Fly Lady suggests setting a timer and doing this in 15 minutes increments so you won’t get overwhelmed. That works too. Although I find that when I’m in a mood, cleaning and organizing snaps me out of it. I like the metaphor of cleaning and organizing my outside surroundings to help me clean and organize what’s going on inside my head. As always, your mileage may vary.

I purged the excess and kept only the best of the following:

1. Reusable travel coffee mugs. We had several freebies that leaked and went into the recycling bin. By keeping 2 travel mugs per person we no longer have dribble drinking problems. It also keeps the kitchen sink from being cluttered up with dirty travel coffee mugs waiting for a hand wash.

2. Reusable water bottles. Same deal with the coffee mugs. The stainless steel bottles stayed. The plastic bottles that didn’t have a recycling number 2, 4, or 5 (the BPA free plastics) went into the recycling bin. I realize that those bottles are still usable but I feel like a hypocrite giving someone else a BPA plastic water bottle just because I don’t want my family using it.

3. Pens and pencils. Most of the pens and pencils were again, freebies from events and many were out of ink. I threw away the empty single use disposable pens. I replaced the empty ink cartridge on the refillable pens instead of chucking the pen back into the drawer and using another one (I’m sure you never do that – right?) I put the rest into a bag and sold the lot at a yard sale.

4. Storage containers. To keep Husband the Head Cook happy, we have some small plastic storage containers. Well, here’s a clutter busting tip: if you try to pull one container or lid from the cupboard and the rest of them routinely fall out of the cupboard and on to your head it’s time to purge! This purge was actually the easiest but most time consuming because apparently I never throw anything usable away. :)

  • First I matched the lids to the containers. The orphans went into the recycling bin.
  • Next, any container that wasn’t glass or didn’t have a recycling number 2, 4, or 5 (the BPA free plastics) went into the recycling bin. 
  • Finally any nicked, stained, or containers with cracked lids went into the recycling bin. I don’t microwave in plastic but red sauce and turmeric still stains my plastic containers.
5. Potholders. I purged the burn ones and washed the rest. Then I felt stupid for not realizing until that moment that my potholders are made of cloth and I could have washed them before they were so stained and burnt that I didn’t care what happened to them – idiot.


Amelia Sprout made and gave me this potholder at BlogHer last year. I should use it more often even though it's (say it with me), "too pretty to use!"

6. Chipped coffee mugs and orphan silverware – Most of these were around since our college days. I sold them at a yard sale two crafters took them. One makes wind chimes from old silverware the other makes mosaics from smashed mugs. Of course I could have repurposed my items doing the same crafts but I know me. I didn’t have a need for wind chimes or coffee mug mosaics. That stuff would have cluttered up my craft room instead of my kitchen because I’d never get around to doing those projects. It’s best to give them to someone who will use them right away. If I ever get the hankering to do these crafts, I can easily get the materials for cheap at a thrift store or Freecycle.

To keep everything in check, I started being a bit more selective about what useful freebie items I take when I’m offered them at street fairs, the mall, etc. because that’s where the majority of the not so great coffee mugs, water bottles, and pens and pencils came from. I’m also selective about product packaging when it comes to buying food items. I try to find something reusable/compostable/recyclable as much as possible.

What are your kitchen spring cleaning and purging tips? Have you found that you have a very large number of  items you only thought you had one or two of, like chip clips?

This post is part of the Get the Junk Out! Carnival where the topic is clutter hosted by Mandi at Organizing Your Way.

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