These are the 7 things to get rid of first in your kitchen cabinets, according to cleaning pros

Cleaners spill on what things to get rid of first in your kitchen cabinets

A tidy kitchen with dark green cabinets, dark wooden beams around the ceiling, white walls and cream tiles, and plants decorated around it
(Image credit: Smile Kitchens)

Knowing what things to get rid of first in your kitchen cabinets is key for getting this area of your home scrubbed up properly.

We've quizzed cleaning pros on what you should wave goodbye to first to ensure a smooth process when revamping this space. From larger items like broken cookware to smaller pieces like expired pantry goods, you'll be surprised at how much can go.

By being ruthless, you’ll end up with even more storage space for your food and cookware. This is why knowing the things to get rid of first in your kitchen cabinets is so crucial when decluttering your kitchen.

The most important things to get rid of first in your kitchen cabinets

Gather up your best cleaning supplies, as it's time to wave goodbye to these things you should get rid of first in your kitchen cabinets.

Our pros have recommended buys throughout to help you do this, which we have shopped throughout.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article.

1. Damaged cookware

Three dark green pans, one on a wooden cutting board and two leaning against a white wall, with a cooking book open to the right of them and a black hob in front of them

(Image credit: ProCook)

Yes, you might be attached to your favorite pan — but if it’s not working as it should, it should be a thing you get rid of first in your kitchen cabinets.

“To declutter, start with any cookware that's damaged, such as non-stick pans that are peeling or pots with missing handles,” says Eliana Coca, cleaning expert and founder of E.C. House Cleaning.

“Donating or recycling these items responsibly can significantly free up space, making your kitchen more functional and aesthetically pleasing,” she adds.

We recommend investing in a good-quality pan, such as Our Place’s Perfect Pot that’s ideal for families and meal-prepping.

2. Mismatched containers

An open light wooden kitchen drawer with white peg organizers in it with clear rectangular containers and brown tub lids neatly stacked within it

(Image credit: Umbra)

Isn't it so annoying when the lids and containers don't match up? If you’ve found yourself frustrated with this cabinet conundrum one too many times, it could be time to go through your collection.

“Start by going through your stash to identify any that don't match up, then check to see if any of them are recyclable,” says Rhonda Wilson, quality lead cleaner at FreshSpace Cleaning.

“Most plastic containers and lids can be recycled, but it's always best to check your area's recycling guidelines just to make sure,” she adds.

If you’ve got rid of these and found you don’t have any left, get a set of the best kitchen storage containers instead, such as the bestselling Ailtec Glass Food Storage Containers from Amazon.

3. Half-empty cleaning supplies

A wooden box with three beige and white bottles of cleaning supplies, two scrubbing brushes on either side, and two beige woven cleaning pads hanging off the front edge, with a light wooden door behind it

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When cleaning your kitchen, you might have fallen in love with a particular product and kept buying it over and over again, while forgetting you still have some left to use. We aren’t judging — we’ve been there too.

“When it comes to cleaning products, I've seen many cabinets cluttered with an array of half-used supplies that take up valuable space,” Elena explains. “Combining the contents of nearly empty bottles and properly disposing of any that are outdated or no longer needed can help declutter the space under your sink.”

You can also make sure to buy multi-purpose or concentrated cleaners that can handle a variety of tasks to reduce the number of bottles cluttering your cabinets.

“I like to use Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner on Amazon, which is highly efficient for day-to-day wipe downs,” adds Kelly Salas, cleaning expert and founder of Sierra Vista Maintenance.

4. Duplicate appliances and utensils

A cream coffee maker with a white curved cup underneath it, on a white counter with a white wall behind it

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Trust us, you don’t need that many small kitchen appliances and utensils cluttering up your cabinets.

Kelly explains, “It's common to find duplicates or rarely used gadgets taking up precious cabinet space, which is why they're things to get rid of first in your kitchen cabinets. I advise going through these items and keeping only those that serve multiple purposes or are used regularly."

If you end up with items you don’t need but still work, such as one of the best coffee makers (the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker on Amazon is one our favorite all-rounders, FYI), gift to friends or donate them to secondhand stores like Goodwill.

5. Worn out kitchen towels

A kitchen towel with colorful tea tin illustrations with green borders hanging from a wooden counter with a blue vase of flowers and a tea cosy on it, and white drawers underneath it

(Image credit: Home Landing Ltd)

One of the things to get rid of in your kitchen cabinets which may be taking up unnecessary space are surplus kitchen towels.

“They can get a little worn out after a while. It's totally normal, but it's important to keep an eye on them and replace them when necessary,” Rhonda explains. "Old and frayed towels are less effective in protecting you from small burns."

Be sure to replace any old kitchen textiles with high-quality options that are durable, heat-resistant, and easy to clean, such as the Homaxy Kitchen Dish Cloths with over 19,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.

6. Spices

A stack of frosted glass spice jars with colorful spices in them, brown cork lids, and wooden spoons on the handles, on top of a dark brown countertop against a white wall

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might not get through spices too quickly, but hanging onto old ones for years is a big no-no, according to cleaning experts. 

Eliana explains, “Spices lose their flavor over time and can make your dishes taste bland if they're too old. Go through your collection, discard anything that’s expired or hasn’t been used in over a year, and organize what remains in a clear, accessible manner."

For this, Elena suggests going for uniform spice jars with labels (we like Amazon's Choice Netany Spice Jar set), as these will not only keep your spices fresh and organized, but having them to hand in clear jars will make cooking easier.

7. Chipped glasses or mugs

A close-up shot of a white mug with orange fruit illustrations on it, stood on a wooden counter with colorful floral mugs surrounding it and a wooden board with pastries on it behind it

(Image credit: Gisela Graham)

If you see any cracks or chips in your glasses or mugs, they’re officially things to get rid of first in your kitchen cabinets. 

Rhonda says, “Wrap them up carefully in newspaper or paper towels  to prevent any sharp edges from causing injury, and to keep any broken shards contained. Once you've wrapped them up, put them in a sturdy trash bag and tie it up securely to prevent any spillages or accidents.”

Don’t want to throw away your favorite mug, even if it’s a little broken? You could always repurpose it as a planter or stationery holder. Alternatively, treat yourself to a new one (we have the Peeking Animal Mug from Urban Outfitters in our carts).


“Kitchens can become more streamlined, efficient, and enjoyable spaces for cooking and gathering when your cabinets are organized,” Kelly finishes by saying.

If you’re looking to modernize your cabinets, you might also want to know the outdated kitchen cabinet trends to avoid. 

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.

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