9 ways to avoid feeling overwhelmed with small kitchen clutter

If you're feeling overwhelmed with small kitchen clutter, here are 9 expert-approved steps to clear the decks

A bright white kitchen with island counter that isn't overwhelmed with small kitchen clutter
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Save yourself the hassle of feeling overwhelmed with small kitchen clutter by banking these straightforward ways to restore order in your space.

If there’s clutter in every nook and cranny of your small kitchen, things will quickly start to feel chaotic. If things are starting to pile up and you're finding it hard to use your small kitchen for its intended purpose, check out these nine tips from our professional organizers.

We dug out some new small kitchen ideas and spoke to our design experts for their take on how to get the job done and clear your kitchen clutter without being overwhelmed with stress.

How to avoid feeling overwhelmed with small kitchen clutter

If you're fretting about your past small kitchen organization mistakes, put a pin in it and give yourself some mental space to think things through. There are plenty of ways to combat these, and declutter a small kitchen so we'll help you get your space back into tip-top shape. 

1. Store food in containers

15 clear plastic food storage containers stacked vertically on three cream metal shelves

(Image credit: Amazon)

Food can be the easiest items to find overwhelming, especially in a smaller space. Those with a long shelf-life are often piled on shelves, making it harder to find what you need, when you need it.

Try some plastic containers from Amazon to organize all the packets, snacks, and cans in your cabinets, and slot them back neatly onto your shelves. They're a great way to organize small kitchen cabinets in a pinch.

“I find decanting food can take up a lot of space, so if you categorize and keep them in containers instead, it will help you quickly access everything you need!” says professional organizer, Charlotte Sitton.

Charlotte Sitton
Charlotte Sitton

Charlotte Sitton is a professional organizer who loves helping people declutter, style and organize their spaces. She's worked with clients in various-sized spaces, from small apartments to large houses, sorting kitchens to lofts, and knows there's always a way to get organized. 

2. Stack up your items

Tiered black metal rack with dark wooden shelves stacked with pots pans food containers microwave and utensils

(Image credit: Amazon)

Often it's harder to find items you're looking for if cans and spices of the same height are piled onto a single shelf. To keep on top of what you have, without permanently altering your space could be tricky, but that's where renter-friendly shelving will come to the rescue.

“I recommend buying a tiered shelf stacker so you can see more items in one go," says Charlotte. "They're useful for tins, spices as well as spreads and syrups, and it also adjusts to the shelf width."

A perfect tiered shelf stacker such as this Giantex kitchen baker's rack from Amazon will do the trick.

3. Unpack your entire kitchen shelf

Kitchen shelf with food items on rotating trays

(Image credit: Amazon)

"Not only do oils and condiments make a lot of mess on the shelf, but they drip after being used. You might often need to unpack the entire kitchen shelf to find the one you need, especially in a smaller space, and risk spreading the mess," explains Charlotte.

Why not get a large Lazy Susan from Amazon so you can easily take the oils and condiments you need without having to unpack everything? It also keeps the shelf clean with the rotating tray only needing a quick wipe-down when you're deep cleaning a small kitchen.

4. Put utensils away

Gray utensil holder next to gas stove top with matching utensils

(Image credit: Amazon)

Having an excess amount of kitchen utensils tends to become overwhelming, especially when there is limited space. Not only are they quite big and bulky, but they don't always fit into a drawer. 

Charlotte advises placing utensils in a holder (we rate this super functional rotating utensil holder from Amazon) on a kitchen surface. You can even put your knives on a magnetic wall holder (like this knife holder from Amazon) to further save on drawer space, giving you room to file away other things cluttering up your countertops.

5. Put all things plastic away

Kitchen drawer with colorful utensils organized with adjustable spacers

(Image credit: Amazon)

Making use of some trusty kitchen drawer organizers may just be the solution you're looking for.

“Water bottles, plastic containers, and kids' dinnerware can take up a lot of space and if you have less room than usual, I would consider placing them in a drawer altogether,” says Charlotte.

Stacking and categorizing these things by their shapes, and avoiding holding on to too many different variations will mean you can fit a lot more in one space. Charlotte's number one tip would be to get some drawer dividers from Amazon to help you categorize items. 

“They can also be used to keep taller bottles from falling over in the drawer, or to keep container lids in place,” she says.

6. Utilize wall and cabinet doors

Clear plastic storage bin on the inside of a white cabinet door

(Image credit: Amazon)

Install hooks or magnetic strips on walls to hang frequently used utensils, pans, or potholders, saving drawer and cabinet space. The insides of cabinet doors can be great for hanging small items like measuring cups, lids, or even spice racks. 

You can use these adhesive heavy-duty hooks from Amazon on the back of cabinet doors to store pot holders, dish towels, or cleaning supplies. This not only saves space but also keeps these items within easy reach. 

Make the most of adhesive bins like these mDesign storage bins available on Amazon, on doors to store soup or spice packets or dishwasher pods.

“Be creative with your wall space; even a small area can be maximized with vertical storage,” said professional organizer, Heather Ariello. “This approach not only declutters but can also add a unique style element to your kitchen.”

Professional Organizer
Heather Aiello

Heather Aiello is the Founder and COO (Chief Organizing Officer) of The Organized You. Her goal is to develop a customized solution for you to maintain now and in the future. 

7. Vertical storage solutions

Full height door pantry organizer filled with food and jars

(Image credit: Amazon)

Heather advises going vertical when it comes to kitchen storage. Try investing in a back-of-the-door rack (like this pantry organizer from Amazon) or shelf risers (like these sleek shelf racks from Amazon) in a cabinet.

You can utilize shelf risers in your cabinets to make full use of the vertical space, which is especially useful for organizing plates, bowls, and cups in an easily accessible way.

For taller cabinets, consider tiered organizers so you can see and reach everything easily. Vertical storage is also great for water bottles. You can use stackable water bottle holders from Amazon to help keep them organized. Remember to tweak the height of your shelves, if they're adjustable, to fit your items perfectly.

8. Use cabinet tops

Kitchen baskets in kitchen cabinet

(Image credit: Amazon)

"The space above cabinets, especially the one above the refrigerator, is often underutilized and can be great for storing seldom-used items," Heather explains. "Use it for large pots, small kitchen appliances, or extra supplies like paper towels."

To keep it looking tidy, use baskets or bins (like these storage bins from Amazon) to contain these items. Just be mindful of the height and weight of items stored up high for safety. 

This area can also be used to display decorative items or plants, adding a touch of style to your kitchen.

9. Use the inside of the oven

Steel fitted oven with an open door and neutral dish towel

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you are tight on space, this is a great place to keep large flat items like baking sheets, broiler pans, or a pizza stone, when not in use. This frees up cabinet space and keeps these items out of sight. Just remember to remove them before preheating the oven. This is a great temporary storage solution, especially when you need extra space quickly. 

“However, for safety and convenience, make sure to have an alternate storage spot for these items when the oven is in use,” says Heather.


How can I keep track of what I declutter in a small kitchen to avoid repurchasing?

Create a list of items you discard, especially gadgets or utensils, to prevent repurchasing. This list can also guide your future purchases by highlighting what you don’t often use.

What criteria should I use to decide what stays or goes during decluttering?

Evaluate items based on their frequency of use, condition, and whether they have a specific, necessary function. If something hasn’t been used in months or is in poor condition, consider removing it.

A small kitchen is a place that should bring joy to your life and be a hub for making memories with your loved ones. Making sure you're not overwhelmed with small kitchen clutter will mean you'll be cooking up meals with ease in no time and enjoying the space.

Keep clutter at bay while designing your small kitchen so you can utilize the space as much as possible.

With just the right mindset, strategy, and a few smart buys, you’ll be able to enjoy your small kitchen even more, and most importantly, keep it clutter-free.

Aida M. Toro
Freelance Writer

About Me:

Hello! My name is Aida M. Toro and I am a freelance writer that loves cultivating stories about amazing people, fashion, interiors, art, and food. I currently write for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, The House Magazine, Hobnob Magazine, The C-Word, and Real Homes. I live in West New York, New Jersey, which is literally a 10-minute ferry ride or 20-minute bus ride away from New York City. Although I was born and raised in West New York, I consider NYC my home, as I believe it to be the place where all dreams come to fruition, and of course, spend most of my time in. When I’m not writing, I love perusing the city streets and taking snaps with my iPhone of street art along with random things, scoping out new restaurants as well as their spaces, shopping at some of my favorite stores, spending time with family and friends, walking my cockapoodle Benji, and working out at Lifetime or DOGPOUND, which are some of the top fitness spaces in Manhattan and overall the U.S.