Guest Post: How to Organize Your Kitchen

I love connecting with other people who love organized spaces as much as I do. Marcio Benedetti is a co-owner of I.Q. cleaning, a maid and home cleaning service that organizes and cleans homes all across Washington D.C.. We may have almost an entire country between us, but we totally see eye-to-eye when it comes to organizing a kitchen! Marcio's been gracious enough to volunteer his expertise to help you organize your kitchen. You can also check out pantry organization tips here. kitchen

How to Organize a Kitchen: Simple Steps & Tips

There is nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of preparing a meal and not being able to find something you need. An unorganized kitchen can be stressful, frustrating, and cause time-consuming setbacks. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to whip your kitchen into shape. With a little patience, time and creativity you can quickly be on your way to a smooth operating kitchen. Here are a few simple and actionable tips to help you get started:

Clear it Out

The easiest way to an organized kitchen is to start fresh. Begin by taking everything out of the cupboards and drawers, and off of the counters, top of the refrigerator, and microwave. As you are removing items from their current places, try to group similar items together. For example, put the electric skillet in the small electric appliances group and the stove-top skillets with the pots and pans. Once everything is removed thoroughly clean the cabinets, drawers and shelves, both inside and out. Consider installing shelf liners to help hold the items in place once you return them back to their prospective area.

Toss It

If there’s anything that you do not use or have not used in the past year, toss it. If the item is in good condition, give it to someone, donate it to charity or sell it. This is the time to be honest about what you need and what you don’t. For example, think about the last time you used that grapefruit scoop or if you ever found the bowls that go with that stack of lids. Anything that you don’t know what it is, how to use it or haven’t used in a year or more should be gotten rid of. The fewer things you have, the easier it will be to find what you need and keep it that way.

Replace or Repair It

If your favorite pan has a broken handle or food always sticks to the skillet while you’re cooking, replace it. If it is something that can be repaired, such as a screw has come loose from the handle, now is the time to repair it. If you can’t afford to replace items at this time, add them to your birthday or holiday wish list.

Put Stuff Back Where It Belongs

Take note of what items you frequently use and store them where they are easily accessible. For example, the roasting pan that you only use on holidays should be stored in the back of the cabinet or on a high shelf where it is not taking up valuable space. Better yet, consider storing these items in an area other than the kitchen, such as the basement, attic, garage or even in a closet. Make sure the only items that are put back in the cabinets and drawers are items that you use; it will help keep the kitchen organized and make it easier to find what you need…when you need it. When putting items away, creating areas of activity will help to keep things organized. Here are a few of the most common areas of activity:
  • Pantry and deep freezer - Regardless of where you store your food items, it is important to go through them on regular basis to remove items that are outdated or never used. Keep in mind that if there are items, such as Christmas cookies from last year still in the pantry, they are certainly not going to be eaten now, so toss them.
  • Preparation area - This the area where you should store items such as measuring spoons and measuring cups, cutting boards, knives and mixing bowls.
  • Cooking area - This includes the oven, the stove and the most frequently used utensils, such as pots, skillets and pot-holders. This is also where the spatulas and cooking spoons should go (consider using a jar to put cooking tools in).
  • Baking area - If you bake a lot, it will be easier and more convenient to store all of your baking items in the same place, including the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and also the mixing bowls, spoons and measuring cups that you use the most when baking.
  • Serving area - Store all of the dinnerware, serving dishes and napkins in the same area. It will make setting the table a smoother, more efficient task. This area is also where you should store items such as the seasonings you use at the table, including the salt and pepper. Silverware should be kept near the dinner plates, such as in the drawer directly below the cabinet where you keep the plates.
  • Cleaning supplies - Keep dishwashing soap, gloves, drying rack and cleansers under the sink and designate an area to store your other useful cleaning tools like dishwashing cloths, rags and paper towels.
  • The counters - Countertops are often a dumping ground for mail, assorted knickknacks and everything else you can’t find a home for. Routinely clean the counter and only use this valuable space for tasks related to meal preparation.
As you are clearing out and replacing items in the kitchen, make a list of the items you need, such as new dishcloths or a bottle of hand-soap. Also be sure to include projects that need to be done, such as tightening the screws in the chair legs. Writing things down as you discover the need will help to avoid forgetting to address them and being stuck without items at an inconvenient time. Create an area for the mail, newspapers and homework assignments and tackle the project as it happens. For example, go through the mail, toss the advertisements you don’t need and place the mail you will be going back to, such as the bills, in a designated spot. Most of all, clean as you go. This means not letting the dishes sit out overnight, wiping up spills when they happen, and taking out the trash before the can overflows. About the Author Marcio Benedetti is a certifiable cleanfreak and superdad who has turned his passion for cleaning and organization into a lifestyle and full-time business. As co-owner of I.Q. cleaning, he takes pride in putting his skills into action and helping clients all over the Washington D.C. area tackle tough messes and get organized. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, enjoying the great outdoors, and blogging about everything from cooking to cleaning to raising kids while running a business and everything in between.