How to Declutter Kitchen Drawers, Dishes, Cabinets, & Counters (Podcast or Post #19)

How do you declutter kitchen counters, cabinets, drawers, & dishes? Here is a step-by-step guide for decluttering each of these categories.


If you don’t know where to start when decluttering your house, I always recommend decluttering your kitchen first.

In our previous Podcast or Post, we discussed 7 tips for getting your kitchen decluttered this year, but today we’ll focus specifically on how to declutter dishes, kitchen drawers, cabinets, & counters.

So you’ll learn how to declutter your kitchen when it comes to these specific spaces.

(Below you can read the post or play the podcast version- about 15 mins.)

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Download our free Kitchen Declutter List. Get a printable copy of the 30+ items that you can start decluttering in your kitchen right now.

Download our free Daily Cleaning Roadmap. This includes a kitchen cleaning checklist.

This is a countertop dishwasher from Amazon like the one we have. (It takes up less space and costs a lot less than a regular dishwasher.)

These are the Brillo Estracell sponges (on Amazon) that I like using to wipe down my kitchen surfaces as well as our dining room table. (They are no scratch but scrub/clean really well.)

This is the natural dish detergent that I bought in bulk on Amazon. I like using it with the sponges mentioned above.

This is a 2-tier fruit basket like the one I found on Amazon. (It looks pretty and maximizes my counter space.)

Play the audio for this podcast (above) or download it by clicking on the 3 dots to the right of the volume control. (Otherwise, you can read the post below.)

How to Declutter Your Kitchen Counters

Out of the different kitchen spaces we’re discussing in this Podcast or Post, I recommend starting with kitchen surfaces.

In general, when you’re decluttering different categories of items at once, starting with the visible areas & spaces first will make the biggest impact on your home. 

As you go through these steps, you’ll find it helpful to have a copy of our free Kitchen Declutter List. It lists over 30 types of items you can declutter from your kitchen.

Step #1: Pick one kitchen counter or surface to declutter.

kitchen counter with minimal clutter

If you have multiple surfaces, you don’t want to multitask by trying to declutter everything at once. It will take you longer and make you feel overwhelmed.

You’ll also see your progress quicker when you focus on one space at a time. 

Step #2: Set a countdown timer. 

This is optional, but in my opinion it’s very helpful in motivating you to declutter for a set time without feeling overwhelmed or like you are decluttering endlessly. 

Using a timer can also make you more productive. I have found personally that using a timer helps me with better time management at home.

Decide how much time you want to commit to decluttering in each decluttering session, set a timer for that long, and then get as far as you can following the rest of the steps we’re about to discuss, before it goes off.

Once the timer ends, you have permission to stop.

Of course, if you’re feeling motivated to continue, and have the time to do so, you can. Just reset the timer for however long you want to continue for. 

Otherwise, once the timer ends, I recommend marking another time/date in your planner or phone to work on decluttering again so you can pick up where you left off.

Step #3: Take care of any dirty dishes on the kitchen surface you’re currently decluttering.

dirty dishes on counter that needs to be decluttered

You can either put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher or hand wash your dishes if you don’t have a dishwasher.

If they need to be hand washed but soaked first, then let them soak in hot water with dish detergent while you continue to work on decluttering your counter.

After you’re done decluttering that area or after about 10-15 minutes pass, they should be ready to be washed.

I used to do dishes by hand, but we now have a countertop dishwasher (which you can get here on Amazon,) that was more affordable and takes up less space than a regular dishwasher.

It saves a lot of time for me to use this instead of washing dishes by hand for 6 people and it works really well with the Cascasde Platinum dishwasher tablets that we use.

There are only a few items I ever need to wash by hand now, and usually they’re things that aren’t dishwasher safe.

Step #4: Take care of any food clutter on the kitchen counter. 

If there is expired food, questionable food items, or opened food items you won’t finish, toss these.

Or if there are food items out that need to be put away, then put them where they go.

Step #5: Next, take care of any remaining miscellaneous clutter on the kitchen surface.

miscellaneous clutter on a kitchen surface

If there’s trash, throw it out. 

For papers on your counter, file them or toss/recycle/shred them if you don’t need to keep them. 

If you have a lot of papers that will be time-consuming to sort through and file, you can put them in a pile, drawer, or magazine holder near your paper files to sort through and file later. 

I have a magazine holder next to my files that I’ll put mail/papers in that need to be sorted or filed.

Part of my daily cleaning routine is to file papers/mail for a few minutes. So I’ll take care of these at the time I have designated to do this. 

I also have a second magazine holder that I put papers in to be shredded with our paper shredder. Then I’ll shred them all at once (usually once a week.)

This way other things in my schedule are not interrupted and I can focus on one thing at a time. 

If you come across items belonging to others in your household, you can ask the owner to put them away. (For example, I’ll call my kids to grab their toys and put them where they go.)

Or you can put them away yourself if the person is busy or not home. For my husband’s belongings, I’ll put them where they go or ask where he wants them if I don’t know.

I’ve found when dealing with other adults, its best not to demand they stop what they’re doing and put their stuff away. I wouldn’t like it if I was in the middle of doing something and someone interrupted me to tell me to do something else. 

Both my husband and kids do better with keeping the house clean when I take the initiative to declutter, clean, and organize things to begin with. It’s easier for them to keep shared spaces clean when I’ve set the tone for a clean and decluttered home.

For any other miscellaneous kitchen clutter you come across, you’ll want to put the items where they go.

Or make a home for them if you don’t currently have a place to put them.

Step #6: Once the kitchen counter is decluttered to the degree you want to be, clean it.

a woman wipes down a kitchen counter after she decluttered it

Chances are if you’ve had a surface covered with a pile of clutter, it will need to be cleaned.

You can use disinfectant wipes, cleaning/disinfectant spray and a cloth, or a sponge with dish soap and hot water.

For my kitchen counters, I use Brillo Estracell sponges with a drop of natural dish detergent and hot water.

Not all stores sell the Brillo estracell sponges and sometimes the ones that do will be out of stock. But you can get them on Amazon.

I like that they’re no-scratch, but they also clean really well, both for counters and dishes that I hand wash. 

Step #7: Repeat all the previous steps with your next kitchen surface until all of your kitchen counters are clutter-free. 

In the meantime, make sure you are not re-cluttering the spaces you’ve decluttered, especially if you need to take multiple days and decluttering sessions to work through your kitchen.

Step #8: After your kitchen surfaces are fully decluttered, decide if you need any countertop organizers to organize items you want to keep on your counters. 

storage containers are used to keep food organized on a decluttered kitchen surface

For example, I personally like to have fruit out in my kitchen (instead of keeping all of it in the fridge.)

So recently we got a 2-tier countertop fruit basket. It looks a lot nicer than having everything sprawled out all over the counter.

I like it so much that we actually got another one to keep snacks in, such as granola bars. This way everyone can access them easily, but without them looking cluttered. 

There are also other countertop organizers or pantry organizers you can find to purchase if that’s something you need.

But whenever you purchase any organizer, rack, or storage container, check that the size/measurements will work well before purchasing them.

Step #9: Keep your kitchen counters clean and decluttered.

This can be done by implementing a daily kitchen cleaning routine, such as the one in our Daily Cleaning Roadmap.

How to Declutter Kitchen Cabinets, Drawers, & Shelves

decluttered kitchen counters and cabinets

One obstacle people face when decluttering their kitchen counters, is not having enough space in their cabinets & drawers to put things away. 

So if you’re struggling with overcrowded cupboards and drawers, you’ll want to follow these steps. 

Note: If you need to declutter some of the dishes you have, we’ll share some specific tips for dishes later.

Step #1: Make a list of each cabinet space, shelf, and drawer you have that you need to declutter and sort through.

This way you’ll remember every area you need to do, but when you actually work through it, you’ll be able to break up the decluttering into different sections.

Step #2: Pick one space to declutter at a time, (one kitchen cabinet space, shelf, or drawer.)

Working on one space at a time will help you to be more productive and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

Step #3: Start a countdown timer for the length of time you’re able to devote to decluttering. 

Again, as we mentioned earlier when discussing decluttering kitchen counters, this is an optional step.

But I do recommend it, as it will make it easier to follow through on decluttering without feeling overwhelmed. 

Once the timer goes off, you can stop.

Schedule your next decluttering session & jot it down in your planner or put it in your phone.

Or if you have the time and want to keep going, you can do that too.

Step #4: Remove any items from that space that are trash, broken or otherwise unusable, or that you have no reasonable use for in the future. 

a woman throws out old items in cabinet after decluttering

This can also include items that you have too many of.

For example, if you have 10 Tupperware/storage containers but you’re only using 1-2 a week, get rid of the extra. 

Depending on what the item is, you may want to toss or recycle it.

Or if it’s something that’s usable and in good condition, but you personally don’t need, give it away, sell it, or donate it. 

Don’t get stuck on the part where you get rid of items, though. Choose to get rid of the items in a way you’ll actually implement so you get them out of your house. 

Step #5: Remove any items that don’t belong in your kitchen space & put them where they do belong.

If you don’t have a place for an item you want to keep, decide where it would be logical to store it and make a home for it. 

Step #6: Pack away or store elsewhere any items that you want to keep but are not regularly used.

a woman is packing away extra cookware items that she isn't using as she declutters her cabinets

For example, if you have serving platters that you only use once a year, it may make sense to store them elsewhere, if you need space in your kitchen for items you’re regularly using. 

Step #7: Once the space is decluttered, give it a quick wipe-down while you have the chance.

This step is completely optional. But it’s a great time to clean the space since you’re taking items out of it. And there is probably dust or other debris that has settled on it, if you haven’t cleaned it recently.

I usually use wipes or an old sponge, but a rag and spray (that won’t harm the surface) works too. 

Step #8: Repeat these steps with the next kitchen cabinet space, shelf, or drawer you need to declutter until you’ve completed all the areas that need to be done.

If you can’t declutter everything in one day, that’s totally fine and understandable.

The last time I decluttered my own kitchen, it took me several days. I’m a busy mom, so I didn’t have a whole day or half day to devote to decluttering.

Just get as far as you can. Then schedule your next kitchen decluttering session in your phone or planner so you can finish what you started.

Now, chances are, if you’re like most people, some of your cabinets, drawers, and shelves are used to store dishes. So we’ll talk about decluttering dishes next.

5 Steps for Decluttering Dishes

dishes in a kitchen cabinet that need to be decluttered

Step #1: Figure out how many dishes you actually need.

I personally keep the maximum amount of dishes I’d need for a day and a half. I wash dishes daily so I don’t need more than that for our family.

It’s also important to have enough to entertain company- for the amount of guests you’d need real dishes for. 

If we had a family of 6 over, we’ll likely use real dishes. 

But if we were to host a shower or other gathering of 15 or more people, I know at that point we’ll be using paper plates so I don’t need real dishes for that many guests.

Step #2: Compare how many dishes you need to what you actually have. 

Basically, all you have to do is count what you have. If you have more than what you regularly need, you can pack these away or get rid of them.

I personally don’t mind keeping some extra dishes packed away, because sometimes they do break. 

But try not to keep an unrealistic amount beyond what you may need, especially if you have limited space for items you pack away.

Step #3: Get rid of any dishes you don’t need or don’t want to keep. 

a woman packs away extra dishes she decluttered from her cabinet

If they’re still in good condition, you may want to sell them, donate them, or give them away. 

Otherwise, if they’re broken, chipped, or faded, you can toss them.

Step #4: Store what you want to keep efficiently.

Part of the reason someone will declutter dishes to begin with is to save space.

To maximize your kitchen space with the dishes you’re keeping, you can stack whatever dishes are stackable.

You may also want to use storage racks designed for dishes.

This will make them easier to store while also separating them by size or type.

Step #5: Don’t bring into your home any more dishes or cookware that you don’t need.

Unless you plan on replacing items you have or need more dishes, don’t bring more dishes into your house.

Personally, I won’t get mugs/cups as souvenirs from places if I don’t have space for them in my kitchen.

And if someone offers me items I don’t need, I politely decline them.

Decluttering any area of your home or category of items only lasts if you maintain the progress you’ve made. Therefore, say ‘no’ to new clutter.

So those are the steps for decluttering kitchen counters, cabinets, drawers, and dishes. 

If you take it step by step, you’ll have a clutter-free kitchen in no time. And if you need motivation, this Podcast or Post shares 10 tips for motivating yourself to declutter.

Don’t forget to download our free Kitchen Declutter Checklist. It lists over 30 items you can get rid of that are currently in your kitchen wasting space.


In our next Podcast or Post, we’re going to discuss some tips for spring cleaning.

If you’ve signed up for either our Daily Cleaning Roadmap or our Kitchen Declutter List and you stay subscribed to our emails, I’ll let you know when the next Podcast or Post is published.

Thanks for listening and have a great day!


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