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Getting to the Heart of the Matter: 5 Tips to Declutter Your Kitchen

Getting to the Heart of the Matter: 5 Tips to Declutter Your Kitchen

Got Kitchen Clutter? Ask Yourself One Question

Just like the rest of the house, my kitchen sometimes gets “cluttered.” It may not always be visible clutter, but it’s there, nevertheless. Old, mismatched dishware taking up space in the cabinet, scratched pots and pans that really should be replaced, even old table linens that really aren’t my style anymore.

But what to do? I’ve had some of these items forever, and I hate to think of throwing them away. (I do admit to a sentimental nostalgia that binds me to my “stuff” sometimes, even if I no longer use it.) So when I read this article from kitchn.com, I knew I had to share.

I discovered that one simple question can help me overcome (almost all) my sentimental attachments:

“If I was shopping right now, would I buy this?”

So simple! If the answer is “yes,” then it’s a keeper. If it’s “no way,” then maybe it’s time to send it on its way. Think about the following to help you decide:

  • Does it still work? If not, then it may be time to toss that old toaster (assuming you don’t have a repair café in your town).
  • Do I have room for it? If storage space is a problem, then consider donating the item in question (if it’s still in good working order).
  • Is it outdated? If the answer is yes, you may want to consider donating this item too. (But my sentimental side will say that if it still has some life left in it, you may want to keep it—if you have room for it.)
  • Is it an extra? For example, if you bake a lot you might really need all four cookie sheets, but if not, donating that extra one (or two) could save you space and help someone else.

By answering the question of whether I would spend money on this item, I am starting to see my “stuff” through new eyes. I know my sentimental side will sometimes still win out (like when the object truly brings me joy), but if someone else can also receive joy from the things I donate, then I’ll consider that a win-win.

comment_2What decision-making processes do you use when decluttering your kitchen? Please share your wisdom with our readers, below!


For sentimental reasons I sometimes hang onto kitchen items I no longer use.

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Susan Kuhns
Susan Kuhns(@susank)
4 years ago

my issue is with lids, i have lids from pots that i do not have anymore, i really think my issue is that i am lazy and dont want to make the extra trip to goodwill or have a yard sale. I do the same thing with cans of food, instead of taking it somewhere that it might get used i leave it in my cupboard until it expires and then throw it in the trash. How wasteful, i am going to change these bad habits.

4 years ago
Reply to  Susan Kuhns

Thanks for sharing, Susan. We’re sure you’re not alone! In fact, I’ve been embarrassed to find out of date cans of food in my pantry at times too. I’ll join with you in committing to donate them before they expire!

Lynn Babcock
Lynn Babcock(@environan)
4 years ago

Though I tend to hang onto some items I never use for sentimental reasons I do a purge every spring or early summer of items I have not used within the past year and donate them to the church for their annual yard sale which helps funthier Fall Festival- a community reach out.

Angela Deak
Angela Deak
4 years ago

Great advice! Am I missing the 5 tips, though? I see one question to ask and 4 additions but what are the tips?

4 years ago
Reply to  Angela Deak

Thanks for your comment, Angela, and we apologize for any confusion. The “tips” were the one question plus the four other questions to ask yourself when going through the things in your kitchen.

Angela Deak
Angela Deak
4 years ago
Reply to  Moderator

Okay thank you.

Kim Metzger
Kim Metzger(@kimetzger)
4 years ago

I ask myself “Have I used this in the last year?” If not it goes into the church rummage sale. If the item has been in the family a couple of generations I’ll ask my cousins’ children if it is something they want.

Angie Scott
Angie Scott(@gracierie)
4 years ago

I have a friend who won’t purchase an appliance that only has one job. She prevents the “clutter” by not allowing it into her space. I recently moved from OH to NC, and I purged a lot “there” that I didn’t want to move. I’m still purging what I don’t want to put into the precious cabinet space (which always looks bigger when empty!). Sentimental items are a challenge – but I have an opportunity to donate to people in Africa, who are very poor. Knowing that they can use the item I’m hanging onto b/c of a memory allows me to either say goodbye or take a photo before parting…

Penny Robertson
Penny Robertson(@pennycandy)
4 years ago

I have too many perfectly good baking dishes…I can’t throw them away and yet I don’t use all of them. Maybe two at the most. What to do with them?
I hang onto to things too, in case there is a need (such as someone has a fire and/or starting a home and need these items, which does happen often.

SueEllen Arndt
SueEllen Arndt(@sueasarmyahoo-com)
4 years ago

I do love table linens and I will keep them even if I don’t have tables that they fit on. New changes. Don’t fit my tables, bring them to goodwill. Stains I can’t get out, use for rags.

Ryan Leigh Runyon
Ryan Leigh Runyon(@ryanleighgmail-com)
3 years ago

After doing a HUGE kitchen purge – with the help of a friend who was not sentimental about any of my stuff – and getting rid of a dozen boxes/bags of stuff, it was so nice to have space in my cabinets again. Things are starting to get tight again, mostly because of all of the free plastic water bottles that come from everywhere, but also because my baking pan collection is growing. I can tell you which of those additions I’ll actually use 🙂 The biggest change after that purge was that my husband now notices when the cabinets are getting messy and reminds me that it’s time to review things again.

Linda Kemp
Linda Kemp(@3146539)
3 years ago

Question I ask myself: If I didn’t have this item, what other item would I use to take its place? If I can see an easy work-around, maybe I don’t need both items.