Whether or not you like cleaning, spring is a natural time to clear things out and start fresh. The promise of a new season and better weather ahead has us itching to clean and organize. Spring cleaning your kitchen and pantry doesn’t have to be overwhelming or difficult. You can work on it slowly over a week or two. When you’re finished, you and your family will love having a clean kitchen and pantry. The following tips will help you get started.
Start out clean
It might seem silly, but get ready for your spring cleaning by cleaning your kitchen. Keep in mind, this doesn’t have to be a thorough cleaning. But you’ll want to have your countertops cleaned off and your sink empty. It’s hard to organize a space when it’s dirty to begin with.
Plan your time
Unless you have a small kitchen, you’ll want to break up your kitchen and pantry cleaning into zones. Common zones might be your fridge, pantry (or half the pantry if it’s large), under the sink, pots and pans, Tupperware, baking supplies or bakeware, etc. Plan to clean your kitchen and pantry in small increments of time over about a week or two. Aim for cleaning sessions of 30 minutes to one hour. Based on those time constraints, zone your kitchen into areas, then simply work on one area at a time until you’ve completed the job. After all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Off the shelf
First things first, dig into cleaning each zone by taking everything in that zone off the shelf. Relocate everything to the floor or one of your clean countertops.
Clean it up
Start at the top of your area, usually the top shelf, then work your way down to the bottom as you clean. Wash each shelf with hot soapy water, then rinse with clean water. Sanitize if necessary with Clorox wipes or a bleach mixture (1 teaspoon bleach to one quart of clean water). Let it air dry as you sort and organize the items in your cabinet or pantry.
Sorting is perhaps the most difficult but most important part of spring cleaning your kitchen or pantry. If you’re working in your kitchen cabinets, go through the things in the cabinets in your designated zones. Are there broken dishes? Things that don’t function well or match? Get rid of broken or unused items. Wash dishes or kitchen items that are dusty before putting them back in the cabinets. When you’re working in your pantry, you’ll have to sort out your food items. Do you have food your family won’t eat? Donate it. Throw away any food items that are past their “Use by” or “Best if used by” dates. You should also throw away cans that are bulged, rusty, or dented. Toss packages that are damaged or torn. Wipe the outside of your cans and glass jars to remove dust and dirt.
Everything is clean. You’ve gotten rid of products or items that don’t work well for your family. Now it’s time to organize your space. Although it’s not always necessary, this is a fun time to put contact paper on damaged shelves, label things, and find baskets and organizers that will make your life easier. Whether you just reuse a cracker box or purchase something, try to think about how you’ll use your space and what will help you stay organized.
Categorize your items. In your pantry, common categories include cereals, snacks, soups, pasta, and baking items. Label shelves in your pantry by category. When you’re working in your kitchen, you might categorize by baking tools, Tupperware lids, entertaining platters, etc.
For food items in your pantry, a good way to organize is to have a first-in, first-out (FIFO) system. Every time you bring home new pantry items, use a permanent marker to put the date on the can or box. Then when you use your items, choose the oldest items first.
Your pantry is looking clean and organized. But now it just looks….empty. Time to restock! Replace old and outdated food items. Spring cleaning your kitchen is also the perfect time to take stock of your dishes, knives, and kitchen appliances and replace as needed.
Deep clean it
You’ve gone through your cupboards, pantry, and fridge. The insides are looking clean and organized. Now it’s time to deep-clean exterior surfaces. Dust off the tops of your kitchen cabinets. Wipe down the front of your dishwasher, stove, and fridge. Clean your oven. Dust light fixtures.
Taking some extra time this spring to clean your kitchen and pantry will help your summer, and maybe the rest of your year, go more smoothly.