Kitchen counter organization used to make me squirm and dread the task ahead of me. My kitchen counters used to be so covered in the clutter that I barely had room to put a cutting board on the countertop to prep dinner. I would have to shuffle paper piles from one spot to another, move small appliances out of the way, and goodness help me if the dishes were not done! They were often overflowing onto the counters because the sink was so full.
You guys, I’ve always liked a clean home, but I had a problem. I had absolutely no idea how to maintain a clean kitchen. Over the years, I always knew how to clean. My problem was I didn’t know how to clear the clutter. How could I have uncluttered kitchen countertops if they were filled up with stuff that I thought was “essential”? I was fighting a losing battle, and cleaning my kitchen was a never-ending task.
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Clutter creates a mess that never goes away!
Where do you start when your kitchen counter looks like a frat party happened while you were sleeping?
The dirty dishes are piled up and they’ve taken over the counters. Every small appliance you own is also on the counters. Don’t forget your impromptu desk with your computer, mail, and bills that need to be processed. There is homework, and yesterday’s artwork taking over every clear space on your kitchen counters. It can make you avoid starting because you are afraid it is going to take you hours to find your kitchen counters!
I don’t know about you, but when my kitchen is a mess the whole rest of the house goes to crap with it. I start becoming unmotivated to do dishes because the tasks seem insurmountable, and I quit going through the mail because I feel like it’s going to take me hours. Cooking then becomes a chore because I have to first clean-up to get to the countertops to prep for dinner. It’s a vicious cycle of inefficiencies and a complete lack of productivity because my kitchen countertops are a disaster.
How to achieve clean, kitchen counter organization
Here are some simple steps you can take to clear your kitchen countertops once and for all and keep them that way instead of just right before company shows up:
Make room in your cabinets for stuff currently on top of the counters
In order to clear clutter from your kitchen countertops, you are going to first need to create some space in your kitchen cabinets. Now, when I first started this project, I thought there was absolutely no way I was going to get rid of much of anything. I mean, we USED all of our plates, cups, and kitchen gadgets. Therefore, we must NEED them, right? Wrong. What about if you entertain all the time? Do you really need ten sets of plastic wear for kids? Maybe, maybe not.
Go through your cabinets. Clear out the dishes, cups, and mugs that you don’t use, and the same for pots and pans. Go through all the areas in your kitchen that are already hidden behind closed cabinet doors and hidden on pantry shelves and get rid of the excess that you haven’t used in a long time or that is truly that, excess.
If you need some help, feel free to check out my free Declutter Your Kitchen Checklist in my Declutter Your Kitchen post. It will give you a checklist of items so you know you have not missed a thing!
Now that you have made room inside of your cabinets, you should have the extra space to hide some clutter that normally sits on your kitchen countertops. Talk about easy, kitchen counter organization. You are hiding the stuff you want to keep and getting rid of the stuff you no longer really need!
Small appliance clutter
How many of your small appliances can double as more than one useful item? For instance, the Instant Pot that is all the craze can replace a rice cooker, yogurt maker, and even a crockpot.
Think about the small appliances that you have and the ones you actually use on a regular basis.
If you haven’t used a small kitchen appliance the past year, it is time to find it a new home. Consider giving it to a friend who is just starting out or donating it to a local charitable organization. You could even sell it. There are a lot of options when trying to decide what to do with stuff after decluttering.
We even got rid of our coffee maker. It sends our house guests into a slight panic on their first morning and realizing there is no coffee maker. We like to mess with them and tell them we don’t have a coffee maker. (You guys, we live 20 minutes from the closest coffee shop. It is hilarious to see the panic in their eyes.) Instead of using a coffee maker we purchased a French press. It makes better coffee, and there is no waste since we make coffee in smaller batches. We then store the French press in a cabinet when not in use.
Decide on something that’s right for you as to what you keep and what you get rid of when you declutter your kitchen. The point is to make room in your cabinets and on your counter-tops by getting rid of unnecessary or duplicate items and moving stuff that you want to keep out of sight.
Create a mail sorting system
I used to pile my mail up on the kitchen counter every day and think we were going to magically handle it at the end of every week. That never happened because we had no system. Our only system was to walk in with the mail, casually flip through it pulling out only what was exciting and then setting the rest down onto a pile that was unsightly and slightly embarrassing. There was no immediate handling of junk mail, magazines, or even grocery flyers. Don’t even get me started on the important stuff that was lost between the pages of junk.
I never even thought about recycling junk mail until I sat down to go through this monstrous pile (or piles). If you want to handle the mail clutter, you need a system. Believe it or not, that system does not have to be complicated. In fact, mail organization can be super simple. First, stop the inflow. Then, recycle anything that is junk mail immediately upon walking in the door. Do not skip this step! This alone will make your piles smaller.
If you can handle the mail in under one or two minutes, I highly recommend going ahead and doing it immediately as well. You will be so happy that you adopted this habit. For any mail that needs more time, put it in a folder and place the folder in an extra drawer or wherever your desk is located. This keeps the unhandled mail off your countertops. Finally, set aside time once per week to handle the mail that was not handled immediately on the day you received it. Don’t forget to do this step! Otherwise, you may have some bills that go unpaid!
Just remember it usually takes anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks to form a habit, so be diligent in your efforts.
You can also check out these family command centers for inspiration if you want a more visual mail organization system.
Don’t use the kitchen counter as your desk
I’m not gonna lie, I’m still guilty of doing this more often than not. I like to work in the kitchen so that’s where I store my computer and all the notebooks and other items I use on a daily basis. However, when my desk items make it to my actual desk, the kitchen looks a whole lot cleaner.
If you work from home, you deserve a workspace. Go ahead and treat yourself to one if you have the luxury of space. Otherwise, create a system that is appealing to look at, even if an unexpected guest arrives.
Store other kitchen items out of sight
Now that you have removed the small appliances from your kitchen countertops, it is time to evaluate other kitchen items that could possibly move out of sight as well. Things you might consider moving out of sight could be:
- cooking utensils
- cutlery, and
- cutting boards
Allow yourself one junk drawer
Allow yourself to have one junk drawer to keep all of those weird little knickknacks that you need on a regular basis. I don’t recommend throwing things in the drawer willy-nilly. Get yourself an organizer. It can be something as simple as an extra utensil organizer, or it can be an organizer this meant for, you guessed it, your junk drawer. Keep your pens, checkbook, tape, scissors, and any other odds and ends hiding out of sight here.
Create a morning and evening kitchen routine
I’m a big believer in the concept of divide and conquer. I hated wasting all of my Saturdays doing my cleaning and chores for hours and hours on end. Once I adopted a divide and conquer mentality, chores became so much easier.
Every morning, make sure that all of the dishes get into the dishwasher. If it is full, go ahead and start it. Sometimes I’ll start it even if it’s not full so that I have a dishwasher ready to go when I’m done making a mess from dinner. Don’t judge. You saw my picture above, right?!
As your night wraps up, make sure the dishwasher is loaded up again and started, if it is full. If it’s only partially full, wait until morning and put your morning dishes in there before starting it. Wipe down the countertops too. This makes going to bed so much less stressful, and you get to wake up to a really clean kitchen, which is amazing!
Kitchen counter organization is possible!
It is possible to achieve clutter-free kitchen counters, and your kitchen counter organization doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, getting rid of stuff is the easiest form of organization, and it makes cleaning up easy too!