Kitchen Declutter Challenge: Let's Declutter the Heart of the Home

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Are you avoiding certain cabinets in your kitchen? Do you dread looking in your pantry at the expired foods? If so, we’re going to change that with this Kitchen Declutter Challenge!

The kitchen is the heart of the home. When it is organized, life is easier.

I don’t want you to avoid any area of your kitchen, and by the time you finish this challenge, you won’t have to any longer.

What is a Kitchen Declutter Challenge?

This is a challenge that allows you to declutter and clean your entire kitchen in one week.

The instructions are simple and task oriented, so that if you have to break them up into multiple days, you won’t have any trouble picking up where you left off.

This challenge will help you transform your kitchen into one you love, but only if you follow the instructions.

Halfhearted efforts won’t get you the results you need, so if you aren’t willing to give it your best, this Kitchen Declutter Challenge isn’t for you.

Why is decluttering the kitchen important?

As I’ve already mentioned, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is what brings families together for great conversation and connection.

When you declutter the things you don’t need, you create space to neatly organize your things. Pots and pans are easily organized, and you don’t have to worry about expired foods in your pantry.

Navigating your kitchen comes with great ease and that reduces negative reactions, which means that you’ll enjoy your kitchen even more!

Lastly, a decluttered kitchen means that you can focus completely on the task at hand without resistance. Working in your kitchen will be an entirely new experience that you will want to maintain.

How do you declutter the kitchen?

This Kitchen Declutter Challenge is broken up into three steps:

  • Step One: Envisioning your dream kitchen
  • Step Two: Clearing off Countertops
  • Step Three: Decluttering

Each of these steps is vitally important to achieving a decluttered kitchen that you’ll want to maintain.

Don’t skip any steps, or again, this won’t work out the way I intended or as you hoped.

Kitchen Declutter Challenge – Step One //

This first step is the most important for achieving a decluttered kitchen. Don’t shortcut it or you’ll have to go back through everything again to get the end result you desire.

Envision your dream kitchen

Close your eyes and ask the following questions. Bring your answers vividly to life, and don’t stop until you have a clear vision of your dream kitchen.

  • What does your dream kitchen look like?
  • How do you feel in your dream kitchen?
  • What isn’t in your dream kitchen?
  • What do you like most about your dream kitchen?

Once you have a very clear picture of your dream kitchen, write down all of the answers to these questions. Be as specific as you can.

Then ask yourself the question:

What do I need to change about your current kitchen to get closer to your dream kitchen?

It may be as simple as decluttering a few things from the countertops to as complex as redesigning your kitchen.

There are no right or wrong responses for what you need to change to achieve your dream kitchen. After all, this is what you dream of having.

What if you can’t bring your dream kitchen to life with your current kitchen?

If a redesign isn’t an option for you now, ask yourself what you can do to get as close as possible to your dream kitchen working with what you already have.

Imagine yourself moving into this kitchen for the first time again, except for the fact that you know what works and what doesn’t for you.

If you could move things around to work better for you, what would that look like?

Be completely honest with yourself. Don’t hold back how you feel or what you think during this step.

Once you have a list of the things you can change to get you closer to your dream kitchen, it is time to get to work!

Kitchen Declutter Challenge – Step Two //

Before you pull anything out of the cabinets, clear off and clean your countertops and dining table.

This will make pulling things out to declutter much easier.

When you finish clearing off the countertops, take a photo of your kitchen and observe how much bigger your space is with nothing on the countertops.

Go through your home grabbing any cups, plates, bowls, etc. that didn’t get brought back into the kitchen and wash them.

Be sure all of your dishes are clean and out of the sink and dishwasher.

You may think you need those things because you use them all of the time, but I’m going to ask you to challenge that line of thinking.

Kitchen Declutter Challenge – Step Three //

It’s finally time to start the decluttering process! Are you ready?

We are going to start with your pantry, because that is the easiest place to declutter.

From there, we will move onto fridge and freezer, then onto everything else in your kitchen.

Remember, I am breaking all of these things down into categories for you, so if you have to break this up into multiple days, you can!

Pantry Decluttering Instructions //

  • Start by pulling everything out of the pantry and placing it onto the countertops.
  • Clean your pantry thoroughly and sweep/mop the floor.
  • Declutter any expired or stale foods.
  • If you have something that may expire before you can make it, place it to the side to donate to your local homeless shelter.
  • Organize food by category and put back into your pantry
    • canned foods
    • baked goods
    • sauces
    • breakfast food
    • snacks
    • etc.

That’s it for decluttering your pantry! Pretty easy huh?

Refrigerator and Freezer Decluttering Instructions //

This is going to look similar to the pantry decluttering instructions and it should be just as simple to declutter.

  • Pull everything out of the refrigerator and freezer and place it on the countertops.
  • Clean the refrigerator and freezer thoroughly.
  • Toss any old leftovers and expired foods.
  • Set aside any foods you want to donate into an ice chest or a designated spot in your refrigerator and freezer until you take donate the foods.
  • Combine any sauces or condiments if two or more of the same are open to save space.
  • Organize food by category and put it back into the refrigerator and freezer.

Schedule a time to take your donated foods to your local homeless shelter or food pantry so that you don’t forget about them.

Decluttering Everything Else //

There are two ways to tackle everything else in your kitchen, but it depends on the changes you want to make to get closer or achieve your dream kitchen.

Option 1:

Pull everything out all at one time so that you can rearrange your cabinets to work better for you.

Option 2:

If you love where things are, work through each category separately.

Either way works depending on the changes you want to make. My instructions work for both.

Regardless of which option you use, you want to pull out anything that fits into the category you’re decluttering so that you can see everything you have outside of its normal place.

  • If you use option 1, be sure you’re keeping things categorized so that going through everything is simple.
  • If you use option 2, be sure you pull everything out of your cabinets that fit within that category.

Once you pull everything you need out of the cabinet, be sure to clean the shelf.

Deep cleaning while decluttering renews the space and overall makes things cleaner once you’re done.

Decluttering cups, plates, bowls, and silverware //

I’ve grouped all of these together, because they all have the same instructions.

Consider how many you truly need of each thing.

There are two questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. How many people live in your home?
  2. How often do you entertain guests?

Be sure to keep just enough of each, so that everyone has one of each with a couple extras.

One thing that helps is to have only one kind of plate, bowl, cup, etc. This makes your cabinets look uniform and keeps things simple.

If you have fancy china, consider using it as your everyday plates, bowls, and cups. There’s no reason to keep it on display and never use it.

If you’re unsure of what you really need, box up what you believe to be extra and put them in a place away from your kitchen. After two weeks, you should know whether or not you need to keep the things you’ve boxed up and stored out of sight.

Decluttering food storage containers //

Isn’t it funny how lids always disappear? It’s like losing socks in the dryer.

Before I get into the instructions, I highly encourage you to declutter anything that is plastic, as these containers leach chemicals into your foods.

If you want to know what and who I trust, it is Wean Green’s Glass Storage Containers. I’ve used them for 3+ years and LOVE them!

Use the COUPON CODE ‘thetannehillhomestead’ for 15% off your purchase!

Now that I have shared my concern about plastic food storage containers and solution with you, let’s move into the decluttering instructions!

  1. Gather all food storage containers
  2. Match lids with containers
  3. Declutter anything old and peeling, without a match, or that isn’t used.
  4. Consider how many food storage containers you actually need and declutter accordingly.

Decluttering pots and pans //

Pots and pans tend to take up a lot of space and don’t stack together well. However, there is a solution that can make a HUGE difference!

Considering the fact that you can only use four burners at one time [unless you have a fancy stovetop with six or eight burners], limit what you keep according to that fact and the meals you cook.

For example, I used to have three large pots, but I could only use two at the same time efficiently. There are several meals I cook that actually use two, so keeping two of the three works better and I gain space in my cabinets.

You want to declutter any pots and pans that have a non-stick coating and are showing signs of being worn. Once they start doing this, they are no longer safe to cook with due to leaching chemicals into your foods.

Declutter any duplicate pans, if you don’t use both of them to prepare your meals.

For lids, see if one lid works for multiple pots and pans. I have one in particular that works with my stir fry pan and a pot. Since I don’t use them at the same time, I only need one lid that fits them.

Decluttering small appliances and kitchen gadgets //

I’m putting these two categories together, because like the plates, cups, and bowls, they use the same instructions.

  1. Declutter any small appliances or kitchen gadgets that you don’t use frequently.
  2. If you have a multipurpose tool [like a knife], that can do a job just as well as the small appliance or kitchen gadget, declutter them.
  3. Declutter any that are broken.
  4. Only keep the small appliances and kitchen gadgets that you LOVE using, are efficient at their job, and that you have space for INSIDE of your cabinets.

The thing about small appliances and kitchen gadgets is that most don’t get used. For example a waffle maker or apple slicer are fun to have, but how often do they get used?

When you only keep what fits well in a cabinet or drawer, it is easier to distinguish what you use versus what you’d like to use.

Small appliances don’t belong on the countertop unless used every single day and are a PAIN to put back in the cabinet. An example would be a microwave.

Everything else needs to be put away in a cabinet. If you don’t have room for it in a cabinet, ask yourself again if you really need and use it.

Decluttering linens //

It’s time to gather all of your linens, including placemats, washcloths, kitchen towels, cloth napkins, etc.

Sort through what you do use, don’t use, what’s worn out, and what you don’t want anymore.

Think about the last time you used your placemats. Do you use them all of the time or do you just enjoy the idea of using them?

If you only enjoy the idea of them, but never use them, it is time to declutter them. Create space in your kitchen for things you actually do use.

For things that are worn out, you can declutter them to local shelters or the Salvation Army. They can do so many things with worn-out linens, so don’t toss them.

Decluttering Baking Dishes and Pans //

Ask yourself how often you bake and use each dish and pan. Declutter what you don’t need or enjoy using.

Try not to have duplicates unless you double recipes when cooking and use all that you have at that time.

Baking dishes, plans, and sheets can take up a lot of space, so be honest as you declutter them.

Decluttering Kitchen Utensils //

Whether you have a lot of spatulas, measuring cups, or stirring spoons, it is time to get decluttering!

Kitchen utensils tend to take up a lot of space and duplicate themselves with no one noticing.

The last time I decluttered my kitchen utensils, I realized I had FOUR spatulas! I only use one at a time, so I couldn’t understand how I accumulated four of them.

When you finish decluttering your kitchen utensils, you should have no more than two spatulas, one set of measuring cups and spoons, and one of everything else you normally use.

Of course, the exception to this, again, is if you bake a lot of things at one time and need them at that time. But if you don’t, minimize here as much as possible! Trust me; you’ll thank me!

Decluttering the Junk Drawer //

In my humble opinion, there shouldn’t be a junk drawer in a kitchen. Take this time to completely declutter it and utilize it for actual kitchen goods, such as separating out kitchen utensils into two categories: cooking utensils and baking utensils.

Decluttering Furniture //

Do you have extra furniture in your kitchen that you don’t need as a result of your decluttering efforts? If so, declutter this furniture and gain some space to move around in your kitchen!

Since the kitchen is the heart of the home and a place for gathering, the extra space is definitely needed!

Final Thoughts

This Kitchen Declutter Challenge is here to help you love your kitchen and increase the space you have within it.

When you go through my steps and follow them exactly as I have instructed, you can go from dreaming of the kitchen you love to having it!

Remember the steps:

  1. Envision your dream kitchen
  2. Clearing off countertops
  3. Decluttering your kitchen

Well there is one final thing I want you to do before patting yourself on the back.

I want you to keep your countertops as clear as possible. Give everything a home within your cabinets and drawers, and limit your home decor, as this clutters your countertops.

Experience your kitchen for what it serves – a place to store the tools you need to cook and bake, the opportunity to fill your belly, and a place to connect with family.

After two weeks, if you fill the need to adjust things, please do. But give your kitchen the chance to show you what it is like when things are simple and put away.

Alright, that is it for this Kitchen Declutter Challenge! I cannot wait to hear all about your success via email or by leaving a comment.

Check out all of my decluttering posts for more decluttering motivation!

Are you avoiding certain cabinets in your kitchen or checking expiration dates on food? Let's change that with this Kitchen Declutter Challenge!

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48 thoughts on “Kitchen Declutter Challenge: Let's Declutter the Heart of the Home”

  1. Thank you so much for the challenge, Erin!

    I simply can’t wait to get started…I’ve been on a decluttering binge ever since reading KonMari’s book, but it just seems like there’s always more and more stuff I need to throw out or organize. It’s as if clutter multiplies like dust bunnies…

    I will be following your challenge closely this year and hope it will bring me a much more airy, clutter-free house!

    Sending good thoughts your way,

  2. We’re starting late on week one of our challenge. We started yesterday. The tasks really do give us a good place to start with this mess (Hoarder house left to me by parents). We’re going to probably do this numerous times over the next year so that we can be sure to minimalize as much of the clutter as possible.

  3. I purged 2 cabinets during fall break with the help of my Mom. I love opening those cabinets and everything is in perfect order. I struggle with not knowing what to keep and what to pitch. If I can’t catch up with your posts by next week, I’ll invite my mom back to help. She’s ruthless when it comes tho purging.

    1. Candy, the best way to decide is to ask yourself if the item is useful in your life. If you use all the time, keep it! If you use it often, keep it! If you cannot remember the last time you used that item, you no longer need it. From there, simply ask yourself if you want to keep it any longer. Having a declutter buddy, such as your mom, is always a plus! Good luck! I cannot wait to hear of your progress when Week Two’s post comes Wednesday! You can do it!

  4. This should be an interesting task-I currently work in 3 kitchens, the church, my house and my sisters- all right next door to each other. So I have duplicate tools, but I have to be sure that each house has one before purging, and that they are in their prop e r places šŸ™‚

    1. Bobbie, that is great! I completely get that each kitchen needs to have all of the right tools, but not necessarily duplicates within each kitchen. I am excited to see how this goes for you!

  5. Just tripped over your blog on decluttering. Perfect timing! I have been taking a weekly class on this subject. My problem is moving from a large house to a much smaller one. Stuff is everywhere!!! I am in process of redoing the kitchen myself. (My son said he’d help when necessary.). Hope to start painting this week. Will get rid of a lot of stuff as I go (I hope!). Looking forward to your next challenge. Thanks so much.

    1. I am so glad you found me, Christy! I did the same thing last year [1,400+ square foot home to 600 square foot studio style apartment]! The number one advice I can give you is to take your time unpacking and declutter as you unpack. If there is something you are on the fence with, put it in a box, out of sight. If you have not went to get it out of the box within a certain time period, you can donate/toss/sell that item. Looking forward to hearing of your progress!

  6. Great post. I just decluttered my kitchen. Which is a place that’s easy to get lost in the “I might need this one day” mindset. I took everything out I hadn’t used in over 6 months and boxed it up. I didn’t throw it out. But if this time next year, I haven’t opened the boxes, yard sale time!!!

    1. That is a great plan, Ashley! I did this with my wardrobe when I first started simplifying my life, and did not open the boxes once! It is nice to get rid of excess things you really do not need. I hope you participate in the rest of this challenge with me!

  7. I just found your challenge and I’m so ready to give it ago – well now that christmas/new years & my sons birthday is over – Its actually perfect timing since i start University in Feb! Thank you.

  8. Great tips! I’ve been in declutter mode since we starting our moving process back in April. I’m trying to be more honest with myself about whether or not I actually use certain items versus just telling myself I’ll use them someday.

    1. Thank you, Erin! That was a big thing for me when I started, and still can be today with certain things. For instance, I finally purged silver wear I have held onto, but not once used in 6 years! Yikes!

  9. What a great way to start the year off!! I’m tempted to join:). Starting off in the kitchen is overwhelming but I imagine it really gets you motivated once it’s done!

    1. Angie, I promise that if you do join in, you will not regret it! Yes it is work to get your home decluttered and organized, but think about how great it is going to flow afterwards! You can do it!

  10. Christina @ Hugs and Lattes

    Yes! I need to do this. I just got married, so our kitchen looks like we just moved in with all the new stuff we have in boxes! Out with the old & in with the new!

  11. I feel like I’m in a constant state of decluttering because it drives me nuts! Even this morning I started thinking about more ways to declutter!

    1. I understand completely, Katie! I am not sure of your exact circumstance, but mine was putting things away after I am finished using it. I have set as a goal/rule for my home of a one touch rule. If I get something out, I try to put it away as soon as I am finished with it. If not, anything could be left anywhere, and I am surrounded by clutter! Maybe this will help you, too!

      1. Oh for sure, this is definitely what I do! I don’t like clutter; it makes me anxious. I mean more from a place of things that are maybe packed away and out of sight or hardly used (like various books/movies/CDs) or decorations, etc. Or just feeling in general like I have “too much stuff,” if that makes sense.

  12. Oh my gosh, yes! My kitchen is one of the messiest places in my house and it drives me bonkers. My countertops seem to always be littered, despite my best efforts. I’m going to try and do these tasks with you, wish me luck!

  13. I started de-cluttering this year without even realizing it!
    But I am loving and needing to use these tips! So helpful!
    Goals this year: De clutter and Eat better using the Fit & Fabulous challenge

    1. I bet it feels great, Cassie! I cannot wait to have my kitchen in tip top shape! It is pretty organized now, but my plan is to move a few things around to improve it a bit. Thank you for sharing your minimalism win!

  14. I love this!!!!!!!!!!!! I plan on decluttering my entire house through out year. These are all great tips on where to start and what to keep in mind. I will def be using this!!!

  15. I’m so excited for this challenge! You would be proud Erin, I managed to tackle my monstrosity of a basement over christmas break using all your tips and I feel so accomplished! Now to focus on the day-to-day routines and minimize daily clutter. Great tips! šŸ™‚

    1. I am very proud of you, Cara! Tackling a basement over Christmas break is not an easy task, and I know you rocked it! I am so excited that you will be joining me in this challenge! It is going to be amazing for our homes and lives! Clutter does not stand a chance in 2017!

  16. I’m participating along with Apartment Therapy’s: The January Cure to help with my organization process. I’ve already changed so much in just three days!

  17. This goes perfectly with my Wednesday post – my diary confessing how ready I am to de-clutter my studio apartment. I have acquired so many things over the years, and run out of ways to reorganize and repurpose. Time to purge!

  18. I’ve been working on my kitchen more and more and I’ve found it to really decrease my stress when cooking and meal prepping. I’ll definitely be using this list along the way as I finish off this space!

    1. I know what you mean, Kiara, and that is exactly why I wanted to start with the kitchen. When the heart of the home is in order, everything seems to fall into place. I cannot wait to hear about the progress you make!

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