Spring cleaning: day five

Today’s the last day on the kitchen! It feels really good to have the hub of the home cleared and ready to use, and to know where all the cooking tools are. Since the food is inventoried and ordered, it’s much easier to organize everything else.

I can’t emphasize enough how important the decluttering phase of this three-step process is, as described in my e-book. Particularly in the kitchen. It’s so easy to convince yourself that you need that gadget that does one thing and that you use once a year. Or to hold on to scads of plastic containers with missing lids, on the off chance that you need those one day. Wouldn’t you be kicking yourself if you tossed out those 25 yogurt containers, and the next day, someone holds a gun to your head and asks you to produce 25 yogurt containers or you’re a goner?

You can see the ridiculousness of the justifications we make for keeping things. Right? Ask yourself whether the “just in case” scenario you’re concocting in your head is more stressful than holding on to those whatever-they-are. Does the clutter cause you more stress than the potential arrival of the emergency container event with no extra containers on hand?

My point: The clutter is probably more stressful than being prepared for situations that are easy to remedy, even when you’re “unprepared.” And nine times out of ten, the emergency container situation never arrives.

As I mention in the e-book, everything in our homes pays rent for occupancy inside our four walls. It really does matter that it’s just sitting there, not being useful or beautiful to your family. Getting rid of needless things frees up visual clutter, useful space, and peace of mind.

This is especially true in the kitchen, the room with plentiful doors behind which we can hide clutter. Where we house gadgets and tools we just may not need. Mandi at Organizing Your Way wrote an excellent piece yesterday, guiding you through some questions to ask about whether you should keep your kitchen tools. Ask yourself those questions.

My Kitchen

After I worked on food storage, I moved on to inside the rest of the cabinets.

Pots, Pans, and Other Baking Supplies

before: after:
pots before pots & pans, after

Kids’ Dishes and Food Storage

This cabinet wasn’t too bad, so I just emptied it, cleaned it, and set it back up. If you’re similar to our household, this cabinet gets disheveled every 30 minutes, since it’s at arm’s reach of our 17-month-old. So I don’t go nuts over it.

before: after:
kids cabinet before kids cabinet after

Surplus Food, and Gifts & Home Decor

We have more room than we need in our kitchen, so we use one shelf to store home decor waiting to be used, like candles and frames, and a stash of gifts for children’s birthdays and other random occasions. Toys are expensive here, so when we were in the States for the holidays, we stocked up on inexpensive gifts like craft kits.

The bottom shelf is home to extra food we stockpile, bought when it’s on sale.

before: after:
gifts/surplus cabinet before gift/surplus cabinet after

And unfortunately, I didn’t take any “before” shots of the entire kitchen. I did get a few “during” shots, which actually look worse than the before – the contents behind the cabinet doors have to go somewhere when we’re organizing.

during: after:
kitchen during kitchen after
during: after:
kitchen during kitchen after

the grand finale:

Whew… It’s wonderful to have the kitchen back up to speed. Today, Mandi has written some good reminders about where to clean, and shares a nifty cleaning hack for stainless steel appliances.  And I love what she says here –  “Try taking a radical approach and packing up as many of the gadgets as you can to see how having more space actually makes your kitchen more user-friendly than the gadgets themselves do!

We’re taking the weekend off of spring cleaning to rest, have some family time, and gear up for next week. If you’ve got the e-book, you know what rooms are next – so if you’ve got the time and motivation, feel free to get a jump start on next week! We’ll be working hard, but it will be SO worth it.

What are some things in your kitchen that you’re getting rid of?

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Encouragement for living simpler, right in your inbox.

We share our stories as we simplify our lives - no guilt-trips, just love.

(no spam, promise. we hate it, too.)


  1. It’s great to see your kitchen looking so spic and span. I attempted to clear the kitchen yesterday but only managed to rearrange and clear the clutter in the shelves where we kept the storage boxes and plates.

    Dominique´s last blog post…10 Definitions on being a Mommy

  2. We’re preparing for a yard sale tomorrow, so I’m clearing out jars and extra cups and tupperware.
    Your notes about decluttering are great. I often take things that I think I don’t need and hide them from myself for about 2 weeks to 1 month. If I don’t think about or need the item during that time, it gets moved to another home.

    Nicole´s last blog post…UTurn-How is Your Mom Like Jesus?

  3. Your kitchen looks fabulous! But where did you put everything? Do you have a place for everything? It just piles up so fast on my counters!

    Emily´s last blog post…TGoF .4

  4. Your cabinets look great! I am always wondering how to keep toddler dishes, sippies, and bottles neat in my cabinets. (Wait until they grow out of them?) 🙂 I did a big cleaning yesterday, and I did a cabinet re-org a few months ago. Here is my link. http://www.organizing-life.com/spring-cleaning-party-day-5/

    I like multi-use appliances like my Cuisinart. I can shred, slice, puree, make pie dough and bread dough in one appliance. I save space and money this way. Now only if that thing could make dinner, and clean my kitchen….

    Thanks for a week of wonderful encouragement and tips! Happy Mother’s Day all. – Abbie

  5. Lovely kitchen, Tsh! Those counter tops–wow!.
    I tackled the biggest and baddest cupboard yesterday and organized myself by making a ‘garage sale’ pile and a ‘storage’ pile. I have a lot of seasonal kitchen items (eg: Christmas cookie cutters, Popsicle makers) that don’t need to be within arms reach all year round and I can store them in my basement.

    – I got rid of a ravioli maker that I never use–talk about a gadget!

    I think I’ll keep going over the weekend, I don’t want to loose momentum!

    Aimee´s last blog post…Mother’s Day Announcement and a Giveaway!

    • Marble is actually readily available and inexpensive here, so it’s standard in almost all homes and apartments. In fact, we know some locals who removed the marble countertops that came with their place, and replaced it with formica! We thought they were nuts, but marble is just an everyday commodity here.

      As for me? It’s my favorite part of the kitchen. I doubt I’ll ever have marble countertops again.

  6. My kitchen is looking good, too. But I found it was hard for me to get rid of things that I knew I would have to throw away. So in your plastic container example, all the extra lids and mismatched containers aren’t recyclable and weren’t in good enough shape to donate. So the alternative is either back in the cabinets or in the trash. =( Neither is a really good option.

    I think this hammers home the idea that it’s SO important to consider before ever bringing anything new into our homes to begin with – does it serve a purpose and is there a place for it?


    steadymom.com´s last blog post…Steady Thought for the Day

    • Often times teachers would like those plastic containers, my children’s pre-k teacher would use them for projects and paint for the children.

    • Hi Jamie,
      I know exactly what you mean about items you don’t want to end up in a landfill but are not in good enough shape to donate. I use plastic containers in drawers to seperate small items, in the craft cabinet for mixing up concoctions, and under the sink or in the garage for holding drippy bottles or rusty-bottomed spray cans for easy cleanup.
      Your idea of thinking BEFORE bringing items home is THE perfect, simple solution to excess. I am going to remember that whenever I am shopping. Thanks and Happy Mother’s Day! -Anna

  7. Your kitchen is looking great!

    I really appreciate the motivation you’ve provided this past week….sometimes we need at extra push to get things done in a timely fashion.

    I only have one cabinet in my kitchen that needs an overhaul today, and then I can on with the nitty gritty cleaning in there, although I know its not going to be too bad because my husband moved all the appliances last weekend to clean under them! He likes to clean too 🙂

    Laurie´s last blog post…Fashion Friday

  8. I’m with you Tsh, I never keep all of those plastic containers, they take up to much space and the chances of using them are slim. I’ve been trying to convince my Mother in Law of this, she tends to keep everything from better containers to tin pie plates.

    I plan to get rid of just a few small tools in the kitchen, I’m not one to have a lot that I don’t use do to space.

  9. Here is my post and pictures of our pantry areas that had gotten totally out of control. Thanks for the inspiration!

    It felt so good to get things back in order. I couldn’t stop. Since I started with the worst offender, it seemed easy then to move on to the other cabinets and even the fridge!


    I have one cabinet left I hope to reorganize today!

    AMY´s last blog post…Spring Clean-Kitchen

  10. I now have the cleanest kitchen in the world. Seriously. Every single surface has been attacked and conquered. I’m feeling like superwoman today. What’s more … we are going away to Milano for the weekend, so when I get home agai…it’s still going to be wonderfully deliciously clean…amen!
    Since we are only in this country for 2 years (well actually there is only 8 months of that remaining) not much in our apartment is ours, so I couldn’t actually get rid of stuff I don’t love but I can file it away to the garage at least.
    Im looking forward to keeping these good habits & advice going for when we get back into our own home next year.

    Yes, marble is very common here too. Molto Grazie.
    Happy Mothers day people

  11. I’m getting my pantry “tower” in order, but thought I’d mention the food drive going on here in the States tomorrow: May 9 is “Stamp Out Hunger” where we can place non-perishable food items next to our mailboxes and the mail carriers will pick them up. What great timing to pass along any duplicate or unused (non-expired) foodstuffs we’ve come across. Website is here: helpstampouthunger.com.

    Amy´s last blog post…Shift: Welcome to Angie’s 6-Week Fitness Journey

  12. I have to say I’m loving your befores & afters! We used to keep our containers separate, lids on one side, etc. Now I “connect” them to their fellow container and life is much simpler in the cupboard! 😉

    Getting rid of? Hmm I don’t think there is much left! We purged SO much for our recent move… I’ll have to do another look-through.

    Thanks for this great series Tsh!

    Angie @ The Creative Mama´s last blog post…10 things I have learned about surviving Motherhood so far…

  13. Thanks for the inspiration to get started. I haven’t jumped in yet, but plan to follow your plan when I do:-)

    I definitely need to get things organized and in order before baby #2 arrives in a couple of months.

  14. YEA! I am having such a good time! But I confess that I did do my kitchen two weeks ago … was just in the mood and so I jumped on that! I did not take before pictures but the pictures on my blog were taken two weeks later … hope that is a good sign that I’m keeping focused on keeping decluttered!!

    And my SIL and I are still encouraging each other and having the best time sharing this experience – even though we are so far apart (she’s in Oklahoma & I’m in Georgia). We have had a great time comparing notes and keeping each other going! Thanks, Tsh! You’re not just helping declutter homes ~ you are helping keep families close!!

  15. Sweet & Simple Mama says:

    I’m so glad to be done with the kitchen. I was also abl to do some droors that I didn’t add to the post. I threw away only a few things but was severly under utilizing my cabinet space.


  16. CarrieK says:

    I am getting ready for a neighborhood garage sale next month, so this is perfect. I got rid of an old 70’s crock pot (it was impossible to clean), mismatched glasses and, are you ready for this….all my kids plastic ware. Yup, all the cups, cutlery, dishes, it’s all gone. They are 3 and 5, and learning how to use regular dishes now. I give them salad plates and juice size glasses, and you know what? They are rising to the occasion and they love it! I’m tackling the spice cabinet next…kinda scared to go there 🙂 Any advice on getting rid of knives? I have waaaay too many. Seems weird to sell them or give them away…should I just go for it? What about those decorative bowls/vases that were gifts? Maybe I will use them one day when my kids are older?

    • I donated some old knives a few years ago….just wrapped them up in cardboard. It did seem strange giving them away, almost dangerous!

      Laurie´s last blog post…Spring Cleaning Day 5 – Finishing off the kitchen

    • On knives – if they’re an expensive brand, check out the going prices on eBay. If it’s worth it to sell them there, I’d do it. If not, I’d post them on Craigslist. If they don’t sell, then off to Goodwill they go. That’s just my $.02.

      And decorative bowls and vases – do you love them? If so, keep them. If not, lose them. Even if they were gifts. It’s not worth keeping stuff just because someone gave them to you.

  17. I actually got rid of some stuff today! I didn’t think I would, I did a major purge this time last year, but I managed to find a few more un-used items.

    Laurie´s last blog post…Spring Cleaning Day 5 – Finishing off the kitchen

  18. Yesterday I cleared out a lot of things from the kitchen. Broken, chipped or unused items were the easiest to throw away! Some things were also cleared out to give as donations.

    Today I’m plowing through my spice cabinet and refrigerator for a restock this weekend! Who knew I had so many outdated spices! Ugh!

    Olivia @ Moomama´s last blog post…Day 4- The Kitchen, Part 1

  19. I had to switch up the days because of sickness, so I will do the kitchen next week. However, it is great encouragement to see a finished product. Mine will be a chore because there is a lot to cull out!

    mary´s last blog post…Spring Cleaning

  20. Tsh,
    Your kitchen looks great! I don’t have a lot of gadgets, but I love cookbooks. I put about half of my cookbooks in my give away pile. I’m so happy it’s the weekend I need a break. Thank you so much for the incentive to get cleaning.


  21. Hi Tsh,
    I have your ebook and just wanted to weigh in on the cleaner recipes. I regularly take the covers off of my sofa cushions and throw them in the wash (I know that mine are washable) and this time I used your recipe for laundry soap, except I added a bit of my liquid detergent since I hadn’t taken the time to grind up a bar of Ivory. Well. I have to say that the results were spectacular. Spots that have been on there for literally years, came out. If I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes, I wouldn’t believe it.
    I feel like I’ve been duped into buying “Tide” and “Cascade” etc. Those products are so expensive and made from probably dubious chemicals. I love the sense of self-sufficiency when I make my own. I’ve added Dr. Bronner’s to my arsenal, and I’m good.

  22. Wow. That was exhausting! I haven’t gone through my cabinets since I moved in 3 years ago. I pulled out 30 cookbooks that I don’t use anymore and will be doing a giveaway on my blog next week, if anyone’s interested. There are some good ones in the stack!

    I have tons of befor and after pictures posted here:

    THANK YOU, Tsh, for doing this Spring Cleaning challenge. I consider myself fairly clutter-free, but am LOVING the process of ridding my life of unnecessary “out of sight, out of mind” junk, one room at a time!

  23. I have been loving all the inspiration for spring cleaning this week! We just moved into base housing about 2 months ago, so I haven’t had to do too much deep cleaning, but I didn’t have a chance to get my decluttering done before we moved because we moved on very short notice (thanks, Navy!). So this has been a huge help! Now I just need to figure out how to get my 15 month old to cooperate so I can get more done during the day instead of having to work after she goes to bed at night! lol
    Have a great weekend and a Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Give her a cloth with water on it, or even a dry cloth, and let her “help” you. I’ve got four kiddos, and this trick works very well most of the time. Then, when her attention span wanes, she’ll probably toddle off to play, since she had mommy’s attention for awhile. Good luck!

      Tiff @ The Faery Inn´s last blog post…Get on with it!

  24. Alright, I was able to spend some time in the kitchen the past few days and have a few pics and thoughts posted:


    Sorry for a lack of an “after” in the spice cupboard — I’ll toss that into the mix next week. 🙂

    Allegra´s last blog post…Spring Cleaning Day 4 & 5 – The Kitchen

  25. I got rid of a small food processor, a crockpot, more mugs, misc. weird silverware, and a bunch of odds and ends.


    Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker´s last blog post…Spring Cleaning Party – Day 5

  26. Love your pictures! Next week I hope to pick up where I left off with the spring cleaning and get the living room and kitchen cleaned. To answer your question, I am getting rid of quite a few things in the kitchen. We have very little space, so it’s important to only have the necessities. I am getting rid of a salad spinner, some plastic cups that I haven’t used in years, my shot glass collection from around the world (from my abroad studies during college….classy, I know), a bag of food that we’re donating for the food collection day tomorrow, a salad bowl set that we haven’t used since we got married and a recipe card box that is still empty.

  27. Have to … have to say it again… LOVE TO SEE PICTURES! They say more than 1,000 words….

    About clutter… Once I was told the way your house looks (if cluttered) is how you feel (cluttered). I have found this to be true in my family. The way their houses look is the way they are… and MY house is a LIVE EXAMPLE of this statement… When we are stressed or blue, that’s exactly how our house looks… CLUTTERED!

    I thing that behind this statement is the explanation of the WHY we feel SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good when we de-clutter our house from start to finish! 🙂

    • Yep – that’s absolutely right. In fact, that’s going to be a core theme in the book I’m writing at the moment.

  28. Here’s my kitchen day 2!! I like your water thing Tsh -just a bottle with a pump in it! I need to look into that – I haul tons of bottles home every month from the grocery!

    Peggy´s last blog post…Spring Cleaning Party – Kitchen Part 2!

    • They’re really common here. I wish I didn’t need it, actually – I much prefer drinking water straight from the tap, like we did in the U.S. Here, though, no one drinks the water – it has arsenic in it, and there aren’t any quality filters to get rid of that. Oh well.

      • Ewwwww…

        What a bummer. My tap water here in Colo. Springs is fine, but I have a girlfriend across town who can’t drink hers. Tastes exactly like swimming pool water.

        But, that’s better than arsenic.

        Tiff @ The Faery Inn´s last blog post…Get on with it!

  29. I had an entire bag of nonperishable food that needs to be donated…it’s all just weird stuff that we don’t eat. Who buys this?

    I thought inventorying the pantry was a bit silly, but am so glad I did it. It made making a grocery list way easy. I goodwilled a salad spinner, electric skillet and a chinese tea set. I also overhauled my spices and threw out a bunch of old stuff that we’re just not going to use.

    Kari´s last blog post…spring cleaning with a three year old.

  30. Everyone’s doing so well. Keep it up!

  31. I’m so excited to have cleaned the surfaces in my kitchen yesterday, including the surfaces of my stove and fridge (gross), and did a little bit of decluttering (haven’t done the cupboards/pantry/fridge guts yet).

    Can I just tell you that I have fallen in LOVE with vinegar??? I’ll get a post up today or tonight to tell you why, but I just thought you should know I am officially hooked on the homemade cleaners. 🙂

    I got rid of some Pampered Chef items: a salad dressing maker, only used once, a rice cooker I used often, but was never happy with, and their mandolin slicer, which I felt was a pain in the butt to use after trying it a few times. Now, I adore Pampered Chef stoneware, as well as a few other gadgets I used almost daily, but those were just…meh.

    I also got rid of my old crockpot, which is too small for our family. My mom gave me her 5.5 qt. one! I got rid of a few more things too, in order to declutter my open chrome shelving, and cleared off the top of my fridge (clutter magnet). My goodness, it looks nice in here!

    Today, I’ll be doing the inside of the fridge, and the floor, including behind my fridge and stove. I’ll be cleaning off my washer and dryer too, since they’re in my kitchen.

    I’m just glad I don’t have a lot more decluttering to do today. My kitchen’s already pretty well organized.

    Tiff @ The Faery Inn´s last blog post…Get on with it!

  32. I got rid of a bunch of junk that was simply taking up room.
    The best of what I got rid of? Chintzy plastic toasting glasses from a New Year’s Eve party we hosted FOUR YEARS AGO!!! I can’t believe I stuck them in my cabinet and kept them for FOUR YEARS!

    cortney´s last blog post…Spring Cleaning Party- Day Five… It’s Done!

  33. You have turned me into a decluttering machine.

  34. That’s terrific!! Wow your kitchen looks great!! Feels so good to purge!! I always have a tough time with my kids area of dishes! I like to let them get them out themselves-so it’s always a mess. I just got rid of a bunch of sippy cups that were old to try to help make it more organized!!

    Onna@toddlercraft´s last blog post…Spring Time Craft

  35. You are such an inspiration. We are moving in 2 weeks and are forced into spring cleaning. Even though I hate it and it will be a lot of work, it’ll be nice to leave one house very clean and move into another that is spic and span! 🙂

    Jyl (Mom It Forward)´s last blog post…Mother’s Day: Moms Make All the Difference

  36. Cristina says:

    I’m getting rid of a ton of glasses, 2 extra sets of dishes, a hand held blender thing, and a bunch of other things. My cupboards look much nicer!

  37. Cristina says:

    Here’s a link to my before and after pics! http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=82898&id=541499210&l=ada1f63bbb

  38. i finally finished this one today. my goodness! i do feel really good about the progress my home is making.

  39. OMG! I’m so jealous about how orderly your kitchen is! I attempted to organize my kitchen many times. Thing is, I had this box readied where I put stuffs not needed, I check the box to see to it they are not really needed anymore. At the end the box will just go empty!!

Add Your Thoughts