How to declutter kitchen cabinets — 6 expert tidying tips

Our professional organizers share how to declutter kitchen cabinets fast

An image of a white kitchen cabinet with glass doors and a selection of crockery inside, with a wooden table in the foreground and soft focus foliage on left
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When tackling how to declutter kitchen cabinets, doing it quickly will ease the strain of this mammoth task. The good news is, once it's done, your space will be blissfully organized.

We have plenty of expert tricks to get yours sorted sharpish, with our panel of professional organizers revealing their industry tips, including utilizing label makers, grabbing great storage and being ruthless in your trashing of dud items.

With our experienced pros it's easier than ever to declutter a kitchen. Grab a trash bag and a box for donations, and let's get cracking.

How to declutter kitchen cabinets

Organizing a small kitchen and getting your cabinets spick and span shoots to the top of the priority list when you're staring down a tsunami of tupperware everytime you open a door. Instead, bask in organized bliss with our six expert-approved steps to declutter your cabinets.

1. Tackle one cabinet at a time

An image of a kitchen with wooden cabinet doors, wooden countertops and a white oven with off white subway tiling

(Image credit: Canva)

The first step for decluttering kitchen cabinets is to swerve the mistake of attempting to sort everything all at once.

Kelleigh Beckett, organization expert, says, “Tackle one cabinet at a time to keep you from feeling swamped. Empty one, clean it well, and decide what goes back.”

For any items stored in the wrong place for a while, set them aside neatly (we like using the woven storage baskets available in five colors from Amazon)) until you’re working on the right home for it.

Kelleigh Beckett
Kelleigh Beckett

Kelleigh Beckett, a lifestyle blogger and mom of 6, runs Imperfect Homemaking where, using 15 years of experience, she spills the beans on cleaning, organizing, the art of homemaking, and the beauty of simple living.

2. Decide what to get rid of

Figuring out what to get rid of may not come easy to all, especially if you're concerned about needing it in the not-too-distant future, or feel guilty throwing away the money you spent on the item creep in.

Certified professional organizer Jean Prominski says, “If people don’t use something for over a year, it doesn’t automatically mean it should go. It may just mean you need a better organizational system so it’s easier to access. 

"Or it might be a needed nudge to invite some friends over for a dinner party and use that beautiful serving ware. Tap into your intuition to see what you really need to keep, and what can be decluttered.”

Kalleigh advises checking for duplicates, and ask yourself if you really need those three whisks and five ladles. "Be brave," she adds, "and say goodbye to things that unnecessarily take up space."

Jean Prominski
Jean Prominski

An artist, productivity coach, and professional organizer, Jean Prominski is the founder of Seattle Sparkle, LLC, a company that helps its clients reorganize their homes into clean, organized, manageable, relaxing, and inspiring spaces. 

3. Invest in the right storage solutions

An image of a very tidy kitchen with white cabinet doors, black handles and a tiled backsplash. The doors are closed and the counter bare.

(Image credit: Canva)

The right kitchen storage solutions are vital when decluttering your kitchen cabinets and keeping them organized.

Kelleigh advises, “Use organizers (we like handy clear bins from Target) or pull-out racks (such as these two-tier trays from Amazon) to double your space."

Drawer dividers are great for keeping small items where they should be, whilst see-through baskets (such as these clear all-purpose storage bins from Target) are a functional and budget-friendly investment . 

Don't forget to make use of vertical space in your cabinets with matching and truly stackable storage containers from retailers like Amazon. Not only do they look great, but are perfect for getting dry foods such as and pasta, cereals, and other dried goods, neat and ordered, without losing any vital inches to mismatched containers.

4. Use labels

If you’re going to keep your newly decluttered kitchen cabinets organized, using a label maker (such as this portable Bluetooth label maker from Amazon) to mark what's in your different storage containers is worthwhile.

Jean says, “Use labels to help you remember where things go." They will also hopefully prevents others in the household putting things back in the wrong places, causing clutter to creep back in.

If you find tasks like this overwhelming or tedious, Kalleigh says, “Set a timer and pend just 30-45 minutes at a time decluttering. This keeps you focused and prevents burnout.” 

5. Clean your cabinets

It wouldn't really be a fresh start when decluttering kitchen cabinets, if you didn't give the empty shelves a good clean. 

With elbow-grease at the ready, ese a multipurpose cleaning wipe (such the Amazon Basics cleaning wipes) or a microfiber cloth and antibacterial cleaning spray (we like the Method multi-purpose cleaning spray from Amazon) to wipe each cabinet out. Don't forget the backs, tops and both sides of the door itself. 

Once clean, you can pop some contact paper down inside each space, helping brighten up the interior with a smart kitchen cabinet color idea, and injecting your space with a pleasing pop of color. This might also just about scratch that color itch if you are unable to paint, wrap, or change your cabinets.

6. Create a routine

An image of an open kitchen cabinet with plates and bowls neatly stacked inside it

(Image credit: Canva)

To prevent clutter from building up again, implement a cabinet organizing regime you can stick to.

Jean says, “Create a routine to maintain your new tidiness. It’s normal for shelves to get a little disorganized over time, especially if you use them a lot, are busy or decluttering doesn’t come naturally to you. 

“Try not to be too hard on yourself. Make a little time each week to straighten up the shelves and get rid of things you no longer need.” 

Regular maintenance of these spaces will also help avoid a big build-up of cabinet clutter, and therefore, a huge job later.

FAQ

How can you stay motivated when decluttering kitchen cabinets?

Jean says it’s important to “keep your 'why' in mind [why you’re decluttering]. Have patience with yourself, take breaks and ask for help when needed.”


Tidy and functional spaces bring joy, so even if you just tackle one cabinet at a time, the impact altogether will definitely be a positive one. If you've now got the tidying bug buzzing way, our expert organizers have revealed the things to get rid of in your kitchen cabinets, and the tricks they swear by when decluttering kitchen countertops.

Beth Mahoney
Staff Writer

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a Staff Writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.


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