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I'm a professional declutterer. Here are the 5 things you need to throw away right now from your kitchen.

Julia Williamson   

I'm a professional declutterer. Here are the 5 things you need to throw away right now from your kitchen.
  • I help my clients get rid of things they don't need or use anymore.
  • Kitchens can be a big source of stress and clutter.

As a professional declutterer, I work with clients, helping them get rid of things they don't want, need, or have too many of.

Kitchens are generally the heart of the home and are thus liable to collect clutter at a supersonic rate. These five tips will give you back a little space and increase your serenity with a modicum of effort.

Start with the spice cabinet

Take a survey of your spice cabinet. In 10 minutes or less, you'll discover that a significant proportion of your spices have turned to unappealing, flavorless dust. It turns out that most spices have a shorter shelf life than you'd imagine: Ground spices are good for about a year once opened, while whole spices (unground nutmeg, cardamom, etc.) are only good for one to three years.

Open up those jars and dump whatever doesn't have a rich, inviting odor. As a future tip, if you're buying a spice for a particular recipe, buy a tiny amount in the bulk section. No need to keep a whole jar on hand when you may never use it again. (This is how I came to own a whole lot of star anise for a ridiculously long time.)

Mugs are so easy to collect

Let's get real with the coffee mugs. Chances are you'd have to host a royal wedding in order to use them all at once. Where do they come from? They're gifts, promotional swag, or impulse purchases; in short, unintentional.

Coffee cups multiply like ceramic rabbits, and I'll bet you end up using the same one every morning. Ten minutes of being honest with yourself about what you will and will not use can lead to a lot of extra cabinet space.

You may get stuck, as in you just can't decide whether to keep that IBM mug because isn't it so outdated it's kind of cool? Try this: ask yourself if you'd spend $20 to replace it if it got lost or broken. No? You probably don't like it that much after all.

The cupboard under the sink is always cluttered

If you, like most of us, stuff the cupboard under the sink with spray bottles, rags, sponges, and all manner of cleaning supplies, it's time to take stock of your collection. Pull them all out, see what's useful and what isn't, and ditch the things you're unlikely to use.

Keeping this stuff organized is simple and will make your life a whole lot easier. Spring for fancy organizers if you must, but any old container will do — shoe boxes, shipping cartons, random plastic bins. Put like with like and say goodbye to scrounging around at an awkward angle when it's time to do any cleaning.


Spatulas, wooden spoons, ladles, serving utensils. We all own more than we'll likely use in the next decade. Hint: having five of something isn't five times better than having one.

Choose the ones you actually love to use. If you're convinced you need them all, try this: put half in a box and hide it away for a few months. Do you find you're searching the box for the utensils you need, or have you forgotten all about them? If it's the latter, these are extra.

Shopping bags

Paper, plastic, fabric — all the bags. These are super useful until they start to take over the entire kitchen. Happily, you can fill them with all the other stuff you're getting rid of. Keep what seems like a reasonable number, and rest assured that more will come into your life.

Decluttering isn't anyone's favorite job. But paring down in categories where you know you've got a lot of extra isn't hard once you get started. And the bonus is it will give you more storage space for a whole lot less than a kitchen renovation.

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