7 kitchen decluttering mistakes to avoid according to experts

All the kitchen decluttering mistakes the pros urge you not to make

Neutral kitchen with light sage green cabinets, tiled wall, marble countertop
(Image credit: @jennasuedesign)

When tackling an overflowing space, there are some kitchen decluttering mistakes it’s best to avoid. It may seem like an obvious job but you may actually be making the task harder on yourself without knowing it.

To give you a helping hand, our panel of professional organizers reveal all of the most common mistakes to avoid when decluttering your cooking space. So you can make sure you're doing it right the first time, and not have clutter stack back up.

Save yourself the effort and learn how to declutter a kitchen the right way — your kitchen will never look better. 

The kitchen decluttering mistakes to avoid making 

To make the process of organizing a kitchen easier, cleaning expert, Laura Smith says, “Break decluttering into smaller tasks and set realistic goals to avoid overwhelm.”

The good news is you don't have to take on the whole task by yourself. She adds, “Include family members in the process to meet everyone's needs. Not only is this important to lighten your workload, but if the family is involved in the decluttering process, they will be less likely to contribute to clutter in the future.”

Laura Smith
Laura Smith

Laura Smith is a cleaning expert and the founder of All Star Cleaning Services.

1. Failing to do an initial evaluation

Once you start decluttering your kitchen, it’s natural to want to speed ahead. But one mistake you don’t want to make is cracking on before evaluating the depth of the task at hand. 

Laura says it’s important to properly evaluate the space. She says, “Begin by assessing your kitchen space, identifying cluttered areas, and prioritizing based on frequency of use.”

It may help to write out a list of tasks to action, like this kitchen cleaning checklist which helps break down a huge chore into manageable steps.

2. Forgetting to create zones

An image of a neutral colored kitchen with natural marble countertops and marble floors

(Image credit: Canva)

It's much easier to navigate your kitchen if everything has a place. Laura says, “Divide your kitchen into zones like cooking, baking, and storage to tailor your decluttering efforts. This can be tricky, as people love using their whole kitchen for every task, but the result will always lead to clutter if areas aren't prioritized properly.”

You can divide the space up based on where you store appliances. For example, the section of your countertop with a stand mixer may become the baking station, while your air fryer may be where you cook dinner.

3. Not emptying cabinets, drawers or the pantry

Check every drawer and cabinet to look for things to get rid of. For decluttering success, Laura says, “Empty cabinets, discarding or donating items not in use. Consider shelf organizers (we like these clear plastic kitchen bins from Amazon) for optimal vertical space utilization.” 

“Check food expiration dates (including the dates on spices), group items, and use storage boxes (such as these clear food containers from Target) for visibility. Consider pull-out shelves (we like these sliding drawers from Amazon) for convenience.” 

It can help to organize what you do and don't need. “Empty utensil drawers, sort items, and use dividers (such as these wooden bamboo drawer organizers from Target available in multiple sizes) for orderly placement. Have a designated drawer for silverware, utensils, and miscellaneous items."

Interior designer and home organizing expert, Robin Aebischer, adds “Assess each item's utility and bid farewell to those that no longer serve a purpose.”

Robin Aebischer
Robin Aebischer

Robin Aebischer is a interior designer and home organizing expert. 

4. Failing to clear countertops

An image of a kitchen with white countertops with wooden cabinets

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Leaving countertops full of every small kitchen appliance you own could make it more difficult to clear up. 

Laura says, “Clear countertops by retaining only essential items. If you have multiple duplicates of utensils, it's time to store them long-term, or donate them.”

Throw your air fryer or small blender into a cabinet to make space on the countertop. You may feel inclined to cook more if you have an open space you can easily utilize. 

Robin adds, “Strip counters of non-essential appliances and decorative trinkets. Embrace a minimalist aesthetic to accentuate the functionality of your kitchen workspace.”

5. Neglecting your fridge and freezer

It’s easy to forget that your fridge and freezer may need decluttering too, as they’re hidden away. Remember to give it a glance and ditch that old frozen casserole or those freezer-burnt popsicles.

Laura says, “Discard expired items, organize shelves by category, and utilize clear bins for grouping. Use a sharpie to mark dates on perishables.”

Luckily it's not too hard to declutter a freezer if you break it down to a few simple steps.

6. Stockpiling under the sink

Under the sink storage using a Lazy Susan style spin board

(Image credit: @thetidystandard)

It may not be the most essential area but don't forget to organize under the kitchen sink to improve function. No one wants to be rummaging through cleaning products, only to be met with an avalanche of items you don't want, or can't use.

Laura says, “Dispose of outdated cleaning products and use bins or trays to organize supplies.”

If you're unsure what to get rid of, ask yourself when was the last time you used each product? If it was over six months ago, it's time to toss. If any of these items are within reach of pets or little ones, double-check their toxicity and keep them locked away. We like these quick and easy 3M adhesive cabinet drawer door latches from SKYLA HOMES, at Amazon.

7. Using the wrong organizing products

You can declutter all you like but if your kitchen has too much stuff, or you don’t have the right products in place to actually organize what’s left, you’re going to struggle to keep your kitchen looking neat and clutter-free. That’s where the right storage solutions come in handy. 

Laura says, “Utilize pull-out shelves to maximize cabinet space and provide easier access. Drawer dividers can also be used to keep utensils and tools organized, while airtight, clear containers work well in the pantry for freshness and visibility.” 

Use doors for extra storage (we like this damage-free mesh wall cabinet door organizer from Wayfair), and group similar items together with baskets or bins for a cohesive visual look.

Robin says, “Elevate your kitchen's organizational prowess with elegant storage solutions. Consider pull-out shelves, rotating trays, and stackable containers to optimize space and ease accessibility.”

Cutting down on the products you're storing in your kitchen not only make it look better, but increases functionality by freeing up surface space. Robin says, “A clutter-free kitchen not only enhances aesthetics but also fosters efficiency and a sense of tranquility.”

So even if you work through your kitchen one area at a time, as long as you manage to effectively declutter the space, the end result will be worth the wait. 

If you’re feeling motivated after learning all about the kitchen decluttering mistakes to avoid, decluttering your home from top to bottom might just hit the spot.

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former 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.