If January was all about tidying up by purging your belongings, folding your sweaters and “sparking joy” in every room, then March is about freshening up— deep-cleaning your fridge, revitalizing your countertops and re-invigorating your junk drawers.
But don’t just spin your wheels spring cleaning—a smart strategy for exactly what to tackle and how can help you create organizational systems that stick, says Ashley Murphy, co-founder of The Neat Method.
Here, the five most common mistakes people make when spring cleaning their kitchens — and exactly how to fix them.
1. Taking Shortcuts
If it doesn’t look worse before it looks better, than you’re probably not doing it right. “The biggest mistake in kitchen organizing is neglecting to completely empty out your cupboards and drawers,” says Murphy. Getting everything out of drawers before you start re-organizing does two things. First, it lets you sort items into groups to start the foundation of your organizational strategy. Second, it lets you determine whether you have any unnecessary doubles or triples that are taking up vital space.
2. Allowing a Junk Drawer to be . . . Junky
Clutter that starts in a simple junk drawer seems to somehow be able to take over the entire kitchen in a matter of days. Keep it in control by making the drawer space more purposeful. “The simplest way to organize drawers is by creating boundaries,” says Murphy. Divide drawer storage into groups – measuring cups, frequently used tools, pens and notebooks, storage essentials like twist ties or rubber bands, etc. “Then, implement drawer organizers so each category has its own space.”
3. Embracing a Shelving Strategy
Open shelving is such a trend now, but making it look neat and cohesive is the real trick to a Pinterest-worthy kitchen. “First, you’ll want to determine a color scheme or theme then “collect” items from around your kitchen and home that work,” says Murphy. Then, organize shelves by frequency of use. Higher shelves can hold stand-out items that are occasionally used, such as oversized pieces of Le Creuset or vases. Lower shelves should hold multiples of matching everyday items. Think stacks of cereal bowls or wine glasses.” And remember: Not everything has to be displayed on open shelves. A few closed-door cabinets are the secret to success. “Keep your beloved, mismatched coffee mugs behind the cabinet doors,” advises Murphy.
The biggest mistake in kitchen organizing is neglecting to completely empty out your cupboards and drawers,” says Murphy.
4. Keeping Too Many Appliances Out on the Counter
Of course you love your Instant Pot to pieces and couldn’t live without your food processor, but appliances can pile up on the countertop and leave your kitchen feeling smaller than it actually is. Instead, store countertop machines together in a cabinet, putting frequently used appliances front and center so they’re easy to get out (and put away). Then, and this is the real trick, implement small labeled bins for appliance parts, suggest Murphy. So, your Instant Pot steamer insert can live alongside the instruction booklet and the extra sealing rings!
5. Forgetting the Fridge Factor
It may exist behind closed doors, but organizing your refrigerator can offer a huge return on organizational investment. The sight of a super-organized fridge can soothe your soul on the most frantic of mornings and food won’t spoil inside just because you can’t see it. When it comes to keeping your refrigerator organized, visibility is key. “Use transparent, stackable containers to store leftovers and implement clear, labeled bins to corral items like cheese or lunchmeat,” says Murphy. Since you access the fridge every day, it’s an ongoing project, not a one-and-done moment. “Don’t forget to do a quick reorg before you put away your weekly grocery haul.”