6 Tips to Declutter Your Kitchen Counters and Reclaim Your Cook Space

in Small Space Ideas on by
A pristine example of an organized kitchen counter.

Remember when you moved into your place and noticed how much counter space there was in the kitchen? Now, six months later, you struggle to find enough room on the counter to even set down a bag of groceries — and despite all your claims that a night prowler stole the extra space while you were sleeping, you’re still the culprit.

Follow these tips for decluttering your kitchen counters and start enjoying the freedom of reclaimed space. Just remember, maintenance is the key to making sure you keep it!

Come Clean

Start by removing absolutely everything from your kitchen counters. Place the items on the kitchen or dining room table, the floor, or any other place you can view everything clearly. Then wipe down the counters with your preferred all-purpose cleaner, including the edges and the surrounding wall space.

Make Hard Choices

Next, you’ll want to decide which items are most practical to keep on the counter 24/7. This usually includes appliances and accessories you use almost every day, like the microwave, toaster, coffeemaker, fruit basket/bowl, dish rack, and an open container of large kitchen tools such as serving spoons, whisks, pasta strainers, and spatulas. If you don’t frequently use some or any of these items, choose another place to stash them to leave room on the counters for food preparation, cooking, and unpacking groceries.

Strategic Placement

Life’s easier when like things are close in proximity to one another. For instance, place your coffeemaker under the cabinet where the mugs are stored, the microwave under the plates and bowls cabinet, and the serving tools next to the stove. Before long, you’ll see that this strategy saves you time every day.

The Less Crucial Decisions

Now that you’ve got the essentials chosen and in place, it’s time to deal with the rest of the clutter. These items fall into four categories.


Brightening up the kitchen with décor makes cooking and hanging out in there with friends all the more pleasant. Just remember to stick to the walls, ceiling, and kitchen table when it comes to this category. After all, knick-knacks, decorative bowls, and cute salt and pepper shakers on kitchen countertops tend to collect dust and grease, and they take up precious space. Shallow shelves are easy to install on kitchen walls and nicely display your bric-a-brac.

Seldom-Used Household Items

Cake stands, punch bowls, turkey platters, and gelatin molds all have their place in a kitchen, but it’s not on the countertop. Use those absurdly high cabinets above the refrigerator and stove to store these gadgets until needed. They’ll also stay cleaner behind closed doors.

Seldom-Used Appliances

Everyone has a few beloved appliances they simply can’t part with but rarely use. Waffle irons, food processors, and sandwich presses are typically high on this list. Again, store them in high cabinets where they’re accessible when needed but not cluttering your countertops on a regular basis.

Never-Used Appliances And Gadgets

Weird things that you never use are found in all kitchens. Whether they’re gifts from family or the result of late-night-TV infomercial purchasing, the truth is that they have to go. Air fryers, pocket sandwich makers, magic food choppers, and other gadgets can pile up quickly. So donate them to Goodwill, give them away, or trash them altogether. You’ll be surprised by how much you don’t miss them when they’re gone.

Reorganizing for More Space

Cooking utensils, pots, pans, and spices all hang from a hanging pot rack in the kitchen.

Now that you’ve cleared out or found new homes for all your big counter clutterers, the next step is to implement new organization tactics to keep them free and open all year long.

Let It All Hang Out

Metal mesh baskets suspended from the ceiling are ideal for storing fruits and vegetables. Potatoes, onions, and garlic stay healthy longer in cool, open-air environments, and tiered baskets are perfect for the job. Bananas, apples, and oranges store well in these as well. However, you should never store vegetables and fruits together. This is because the enzymes they emit don’t play well together and promote spoilage. Baskets also let you take inventory of many types of fresh produce without rummaging around in drawers and bags.

Drawers and Pull-Out Shelves

Instead of keeping boxed cereal and snacks on the counter, use a big drawer that easily accommodates the boxes stored on their sides. Smaller drawers keep spices organized, which is perfect because they tend to retain their flavor longer in cool, dark places anyways. Finally, pull-out shelves in large cabinets are ideal places to stow stand mixers, blenders, and food processors.

Shelves On Cabinet Facings

If you have upper cabinets on either side of the kitchen sink, consider installing a few shelves on each side to store dish soap, sponges, pot scrubbers, etc. This keeps the area behind the faucets clean and uncluttered.


Once you reorganize, it’s easy to slowly slip back into bad habits. Develop a few easy habits to avoid that, and your kitchen counters are sure to stay clean and clear. Try these on for size:

  • Make sure all dirty dishes are placed into the sink or dishwasher after every meal. Nothing gets set on the counter.
  • Take two minutes to wipe off the counters every evening before bedtime. Waking up to a tidy kitchen is a great way to start the day.
  • Every month or so, go through your silverware and gadget drawer and discard anything you haven’t used in the last 30 days. Duplicates are a big enemy in kitchens, and no one really needs three sets of measuring cups and spoons or six corkscrews.
  • Choose a new destination for incoming mail. Place it outside the kitchen on an end table or in a hanging basket instead.

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