A Step-by-Step Guide to Organizing Your Kitchen Cabinets & Drawers
Words Robyn Correll
Strategically setting up your kitchen storage space makes nightly dinners and daily meal prep a breeze. Discover the best way to get your cabinets organized with these easy steps for creating clutter-free cabinets for food, dishes and more.
As one of the most-used rooms in your home, the state of your kitchen can mean the difference between a hectic morning and a sunny start to your day. Forget digging through crowded cupboards and overstuffed drawers. Rethink what you put in your cabinets—and where—and you can save a ton of time and frustration. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Take everything out of your cabinets. Like, everything. Pull out every last sippy cup, shelf liner and ketchup packet, and pile it on a table or counter. This will help you see what you have and, perhaps more importantly, what you don’t need.
Step 2: Wipe down cupboards and drawers. Use a damp cloth to get the dirt and crumbs out of all the nooks and crannies and tackle any splatters by adding a little dish soap to the mix. For gunk stuck on shelf surfaces, gently scrub with warm water and an all-purpose brush, moving bristles in small circles. When you’re done, go back over all the surfaces with a clean, dry cloth to prevent any residual water damage.
Step 3: Toss anything broken or expired. Free up cupboard space by getting rid of any long-expired spices or defective appliances. Consider gifting any gadgets you haven’t used in the last two years to charity.
Step 4: Keep consumables together. Reserve one cabinet or section of shelves just for food, then organize this space by daily consumables (crackers, nuts, dried fruit) versus cooking needs (flour, sugar, baking soda). For small items like spices, a turntable can make hard-to-reach jars more accessible.
Step 5: Relocate items you don’t use often. Your gravy boat, that holiday cookie press you love and anything else you only use a couple times a year should be separated out from the daily bowls and mixers and stored on a high shelf in the pantry or hall closet. Reserve your kitchen cabinet space for things you use regularly.
Step 6: Label everything. Opaque containers and half-used boxes are a major source of cabinet confusion. Shed a little light on things by removing dry foods like grains and nuts from their boxes or canisters and storing them in clear POP containers. Before replacing them on shelves, label each container with what’s in it and the date. Then return items to your cabinets, placing those you use only occasionally near the back and items you rely on daily or weekly near the front.
Step 7: Sort by task—not type. Go through your kitchen cabinet contents and think about what you really use them for. Do your cookie sheets see more roasted veggies than baked goods? Then they should go with the frying pans, not the cake pans. When you organize kitchen items by what they do (not what they are), you’ll have everything you need for a given task in the same place. Some common groupings include:
- Cooking: frying pans, spatulas, tongs, pot holders
- Food prep: cutting boards, compost bin, knives, graters and slicers
- Cleaning: drying rack, soap dispenser, sponges, brushes
- Baking: bakeware, mixing bowls, measuring cups
- Coffee: coffee maker, filters, coffee beans, coffee grinder, coffee cups
Step 8: Map out where your most-used items will go. A zoned kitchen is an efficient kitchen. Put things where they’ll be in easy reach when you need them. Cooking supplies should be near the stove, mugs go above your coffee machine, and food prep items should be stored near a clear stretch of counter space.
Step 9: Use organizers to keep things tidy. A utensil holder is a great way to store spatulas and stirring spoons by the stove. A drawer organizer can hold cutlery, sure, but it can also help you get a handle on the pens and stamps in your junk drawer.
Step 10: Maximize your vertical space. Place the tools and ingredients you use less frequently in the spaces that take a little effort to get to: the back of deep cabinets or up on tall shelves. Often, there is even room on top of your cabinets for decorative items like vases and pitchers.