Every year when winter gives out to spring, there’s that ever-nagging feeling: It’s time for a clean-out. With quarantine effecting so many, now, it is more important than ever to have organization and cleanliness in the home. With the added time we have at home it is a great opportunity to clean out your pantry.
And we don’t just mean taking a duster to the shelves—we mean a complete reboot.
We mean spring cleaning.
Spring cleaning has been a tradition for centuries in many cultures. Some trace it back to religious rituals and some blame it on the human desire for renewal each spring.
Either way, cleaning out your home helps you feel refreshed and ready to go. (And dare we say it’s a bit therapeutic?)
Nevertheless, spring cleaning can be a bit overwhelming.
Not all of us have minds perfectly geared towards organizing. To help you (and us) out, we talked to Staci Ferber, organizational master, and ReOrgit founder, to get tips on how to clean out your pantry thoroughly—and with the least amount of stress possible.
1. Assess the area and your desires.
First, you need to understand what you want from the space—in this case, your pantry. Staci says, “You really need to think through it—what’s the most important thing to you? Methodical organization? Quick access? Assess everything first.”
Make a decision about how you want that area to function for you. Once you know and understand this, the cleaning out will be much simpler.
2. Take everything out.
It might sound counterintuitive, but take it all out—and we mean all of it.
If you’re cleaning out your whole kitchen, eventually you’ll take everything out of your fridge, your cupboards, your pantry, your drawers, and underneath the sink.
Start with your pantry.
Once everything is removed, clean the shelves really well and line then. Liners keep the shelves from getting scratched and dirty.
Then, start putting items together in categories. Snack foods with snack foods, baking ingredients with other baking ingredients, canned goods with canned goods, etc.
When you start putting items back on shelves, these categories will ensure you have a space that is organized in a sensical way. Because if your pantry organization makes sense to you, your cooking life will be way less chaotic.
3. Check expiration dates.
“I don’t care who you are. You’re gonna find something that’s 3 or 4 years old,” Staci says.
We all accidentally let that can of beans sit for way too long in our pantry. (It was hidden behind 5 cans of corn and 8 cans of fruit—how were we supposed to know it expired?)
So, the next step is the easiest.
Just check the expiration dates.
If it’s expired, trash it.
If it’s close to expiration, try and place it towards the front when you put it on your shelf. This way, the items that are easiest to access are the older items, and you’ll use them first.
4. Purge and simplify.
If you’re categorizing and removing everything from the shelves anyways, you might as well be thorough about cleaning it out. Staci says, “Use this time to start afresh in your new space.”
In your pantry, you’ll probably find a waffle mix that you were gifted years ago and that you’ll never use.
At the very least, trash it. Best case, donate it!
Don’t forget to check out your spices and mixes. People tend to think these last forever, and they don’t.
In your pantry, this step will be shorter, because pantry items are generally consumable.
However, if we’re talking closet or attic spaces, this is an invaluable tip! If you haven’t worn it in a full year and it has no sentimental value, someone else will love it.
Less clutter = more happiness.
5. Consider placement.
Now, take everything you’ve removed, categorized, and purged, and put it back in the pantry. Where you place things is more important than you think!
Rank the categories you’ve created from most-used to least-used, and place accordingly. Categories you use daily should go on shelves you gravitate towards—generally eye level or down below. Conversely, categories you use more sporadically don’t need to be front-and-center.
PRO TIP: Remember, the weight of an item is important! You may not use your slow cooker often, but that doesn’t mean you should put it on a high shelf. Even things you rarely use, you want to be able to get to without hassle.
6. Use organizational tools.
Baskets, risers, airtight containers, liners…there are a million organizational products out there. Utilize them—and don’t be shy about it!
Staci recommends, “Use any organizational product that’s going to help you keep things together and find things.”
Two of Staci’s favorites are a lazy susan (perfect for oils—you spin it and you can see everything!) and chalk labels (erasable and you can place the expiration date on them).
The Container Store is the mecca for organizational tools, but Target, Michael’s, and Amazon all have affordable, quality options.
While you’re organizing, remember that you’re probably not the only person using the pantry! Help your family or roommates understand your method of organization, so they can easily enjoy the space too.
Spring cleaning may be daunting, but once you’ve finished, it’s worth the struggle.
Clean, organized spaces will leave you refreshed and ready to take on the year.
Let us know your spring cleaning questions and solutions, and tag us on social media with your newly organized results! @gardenuity