The kitchen is the center and the heart of most homes. Unfortunately, that means the kitchen can be a collecting place for clutter from all over the house, and a final resting place for expired items that get shoved into corners and take up valuable space. Here are the 12 things that you can toss to clear the clutter in your kitchen:
1. Expired medicines and vitamins – Check expiration dates and get rid of anything that isn’t current. Many medications and supplements lose potency after their expiration date. Proper disposal information can be found at: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/ensuringsafeuseofmedicine/safedisposalofmedicines/ucm186187.htm
2. Expired food in the pantry – Anything in your pantry that has been hanging around past its expiration date can be tossed – especially dry packaged goods that can grow mold the longer they sit around.
3. Take-out items – Utensil packets, piles of fast food napkins and drawers full of ketchup and duck sauce can all be tossed. If you were going to use them up, they wouldn’t be collecting and creating clutter.
4. Chipped or cracked dishes – Chipped and cracked dishes can potentially harbor bacteria and other gunk you don’t want your dinner exposed to.
5. Plastic without partners – Plastic containers with missing lids and solo lids with no corresponding container can be tossed in the recycling. Chances are good that their missing partners are MIA permanently.
6. Coupons and take-out menus – For grocery coupons, if you truly use them then it’s best to organize them and keep them in a handy coupon sorter in your purse or vehicle. Pizza coupons, take-out menus and other paper debris can go in the recycling. Most restaurants that offer take-out and pizza joints have their menus online along with any current coupons.
7. Plastic grocery bags – Remove receipts and bundle up plastic grocery sacks to return to the store. Many stores have receptacles for plastic grocery bag return or they can be returned at customer service desks. Turn over your volumes of plastic bags for recycling to the store and switch to reusable grocery sacks. Keep them in your truck so they’re handy when you stop to shop.
8. Receipts – If you need to keep the original, create a designated folder in your filing cabinet to store these. For the rest, you can toss them or if you might need to refer to them (at tax time, for example), take a picture and upload to an online storage site like Google Drive. With a digital copy set aside, you can toss the paper copy.
9. Rancid nuts – Nuts, flours and baking mixes can go rancid over time. Rancid items are no longer safe to eat and should be thrown away.
10. Fridge decorations and papers – Pack away meaningful items such as photos and your kids’ paintings in a safe place like a folder in your filing cabinet. Move bills and notices to your bill sorter. Discard anything unnecessary or old. This is also a good time to review your magnets and remove any that are not meaningful or functional for a cleaner clutter-free fridge door.
11. Non-kitchen items – Because the kitchen is the heart of the home for most families, items from other rooms tend to migrate to the kitchen and create clutter. Grab a box or basket and collect everything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen, then go through the house and put items back in their original homes.
12. Cleaning supplies or items you no longer use – Old rags, cleaners that didn’t work so well and supplies you simply just don’t use can all be discarded. For cleaning products, the packaging should have instructions for safe disposal.
When you get through this list of 12 things in your kitchen that just have to go, you might be surprised by how much clutter you’ve removed. The key is to keep up this process on an on-going basis over time so you’re removing these items right away before they can build up into piles of clutter.