Top 5 Tips for Kitchen Pantry Organization

Not every kitchen has a pantry.  Some people have to content themselves with putting silverware, condiments, and napkins in little baskets on the kitchen counter like a cafeteria because they simply don’t have the space to store everything.  If your kitchen comes with a pantry, you’re among the lucky few that might actually have adequate space for all the utensils, pots, plates, snacks, dry goods, and other items that make up the average modern kitchen.

Unfortunately, we have a tendency to fill empty space (when was the last time you saw an empty spot on your shoe rack) and pay little attention to organization.  You might end up with cans of soup interspersed between bags of chips and boxes of cereal, leaving you wasting precious minutes scouring the pantry for what you need.  In other words, chaos!  What can you do to correct this oversight and create a clutter-free home pantry?  Here are a few great tips to try.

1 See What You Have

If you find yourself staring at your pantry with the same confusion you usually assign to your teenager’s angry outbursts about the unfairness of life, it’s time to take stock of the situation.

  • Roll up your sleeves, crank up your favorite house-cleaning music, and pull everything out of the pantry
  • Group items by type (canned goods, cereal, pasta, baking goods, etc.)
  • Check dates and toss anything expired
  • If it’s been sitting long enough to gather dust, put it in a box to donate to your local food bank
  • Think about how you can put the rest back in a way that saves space and increases efficiency

Now that you’ve done the prep work, it’s time to go full Martha Stewart and turn your pantry into a well-oiled machine.  You can skip the decorative wallpaper if you’re strapped for time.

2 Take Measurements

Imagine if you bought a couch without taking measurements first.  You might get it home only to realize you can’t get it through the front door.  Measuring your pantry shelves will ensure you find storage drawers and other organizational solutions that fit.

3 Spring for Appropriate Storage Solutions

Once you’ve found the time to clean and organize your pantry, the next step is resigning yourself to spending the money on bins, jars, storage baskets, and other organizational tools.  It can be spendy up front, but it’s a one-time expense, and the ease it adds to your life is well worth the cost.

4 Make Labels

Skip the Post-It notes and the old-school label maker and opt for an altogether more attractive option.  Chalkboard decals can be purchased online or at craft stores, along with chalk and erasers.  This organizing solution pairs practicality with presentation.

5 Maintain

Bad habits are hard to break.  Adding organizing baskets to your pantry won’t automatically make you a neater person.  Use the right tools i.e. pour the flour into an airtight bin or place the pretzels in a glass jar.  Your efforts will result in ease of use, extra space, and time saved when you can actually find what you’re looking for at a glance and see when you’re running low on essential items.

How to Prepare for Efficient Spring Cleaning

Step one: start with a strawberry daiquiri.  Okay, we’re just kidding.  Like drunk driving or bike riding, cleaning the house while tipsy can be hazardous to your health.

Try out this delicious green smoothie recipe instead.

Yet, many of us approach spring cleaning like some kind of death sentence, rather than an opportunity to reimagine our homes once a year.  The trick to making the process painless lies in proper planning.

So get thee to an online store that specializes in organizing baskets and bins, load up on your favorite cleansers, and slap on some feather-trimmed cleaning gloves.  It’s time to get down and dirty with spring cleaning and a few simple guidelines can carry you through.

Clear the Schedule

All you have to do is utter the word “cleaning” and you’re more likely to clear the decks than clean them.  However, there’s no need to go it alone.  Setting up a schedule of cleaning ensures that you and your family members are free to tackle this top-to-bottom task.

Armed with cleanser, rags, and jute baskets galore you should be able to whip your dingy, winter wasteland into shape post haste when the entire family pitches in.

Create Checklists

Your first checklist for spring cleaning should include preparatory items like cleaning solvents and storage baskets.  Once you’re stocked, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty.

You should make a checklist for each room that covers everything from ceiling to floor (and every little hidey-hole in between).  Don’t forget the hall, or the no-man’s land that is the hall closet.

With checklists in hand, you can not only give every family member a very specific accounting of what needs to be cleaned room by room, but you can also make like Santa and check it twice to ensure optimal cleanliness.

Create Playlists

You don’t want to admit how long it’s been since you traded mix tapes with romantic interests, but you can put this old-school idea to modern use by creating playlists jam-packed with your favorite upbeat tunes to make cleaning more fun.  You can even let other family members participate to ensure that every musical taste is represented.

Before you know it, you’ll be filling storage drawers to the oldies and dropping it like it’s hot, if by “it” you mean trash.

Call in the Pros

You may be capable of attaining a clutter-free home.  You might even have the stamina and drive to clean under furniture and inside the fridge.  By the time you’re done with these tasks, though, your best intentions to steam clean carpets and scrub grout may have fizzled.

For these targeted tasks, think about hiring professionals that will come to your home and do the dirtiest of work for you.  If it gets the job done, splurge a bit on these tedious tasks while you take a break with that well-deserved daiquiri.

How to Add Countertop Storage in Your Bathroom

At work you’re probably the paragon of organization. Even your communal living spaces remain relatively clean and clutter-free since rogue friends could drop by any minute and silently judge your household. That brings us to the pit of despair that is our bathroom countertop. Bachelors may be a known to not be the neatest, but even their notorious disarray is nothing compared to the mess that dominates the bathroom of a busy mom since she is the one that takes care of everyone else before herself, multitasks while blowdrying her hair and just when she finishes to put her make up on, already has to run to handle the day to day business of a mother.

Of course that leaves little time to perfectly organize the bathroom counter. With cosmetics galore to hide the telltale signs of sleepless nights, potions and powders to deal with the stains caused by spit-up and whatever other substances your kids manage to bring into contact with every piece of clothing you own, and enough anti-aging products to start a small beauty supply chain, your countertop is cluttered, to say the least.

However, the right countertop storage could take your cluttered, disorganized bathroom countertop from an episode of ‘Hoarders’ to ‘The Martha Stewart Show’ in no time flat.

What do you need to make this happen?

Implementing a system of storage drawers and organizing baskets that really work with your lifestyle is no easy feat, and it will take some amount of planning. It starts with taking measurements, which means it really begins by clearing everything off the counter. This will give you a chance to look at products and decide what should go and what should stay. Do you really need that sparkle eye shadow from high school prom or the original bottle of Vamp nail polish that is so gummy you can barely twist the top off? If clutter is a problem, it’s high time you learned to part with outdated items.

You know, the first step to a clutter-free lifestyle is admitting you may not really need all that you have and remember the last time you have actually used it.

Once you’ve reduced the clutter somewhat, take your measurements and look online for appropriate storage solutions such as drawers, transparent containers (those work really well for lip sticks, nail polishes and eyeshadow) and suitable baskets in different sizes for storing your stuff. Remember to think not just out, but up. Counter space in your bathroom is at a premium so make every square inch count with modular solutions that allow you to add more over time, as well as storage products that stack upward to maximize utility.

Look for specialized storage, as well, such as custom containers designed for toothbrushes, razors, makeup brushes, and other items that might not fit easily into a drawer.

Make it fun. Depending on your favorite style, decide on the materials that you would like use and take it as an opportunity to not only organize and save yourself time in the morning but also add a bit more style to your home. Plastic is very common and easy to find but there are many other materials that can be used. If you can appreciate eco-friendly materials, think Bamboo to store make up and tooth brushes or small canvas baskets to neatly organize your everyday hair products or whatever you style you love.

With the right products in place and a positive attitude, every woman can have the clean, organized, and efficient bathroom countertop space needed to make getting ready each day a delight instead of a disaster.

Fun Activities to Keep Your Kids Engaged and House Organized During Spring Break

Some families go on vacation over spring break.  Since the kids are out of school and the tourist season in most locales is still weeks away, why not use up your vacation time and go somewhere that has sunlight?

Of course, not every parent can skip work for a week, and not every household can afford a pricy family vacation (even if prices are lower than summer rates).  However, you can’t exactly turn your kids into Cinderella (pre-glass slipper) and get them to help with a your spring cleaning.

Or can you?  If your kids are home all day anyway, why not find ways to make your dreams of a clutter-free home a reality?  Some might say it’s not a good idea, but if you can find a way to make cleaning out closets and organizing toy bins a blast, you get to spend more time with your kids, have a clean house and still have plenty of time left for your kids favorite activities.  Here are some strategies to employ:

Make it a Race

Toys are strewn across the house like so much debris left over after a tornado hits.  If you want kids to quickly organize their toys into the storage baskets you’ve thoughtfully provided for them, get yourself a stopwatch and whistle like the gym coach.

Create a start/finish line in the house and send kids scampering to pick up and put away the items that are theirs.  The first one to finish gets a gold star on your family chore chart.  Or reward them all with a trip to the park or another favorite spot for some play time that won’t re-clutter the house.

Kids versus Parents

You can participate in race-type games by doing grown-up chores like washing dishes or sorting laundry into baskets while the kids pick up their clutter.  When the kids are united in racing against you they might be more motivated to team up and win.  Of course, you’re the real winner and your prize is a clean house!

Make Cleaning Commercials

Most kids love to ham it up when they’re on film, so if you want to have some fun with chores, whip out your phone and prompt kids to turn their tasks into infomercials for fictional cleaning products.

It doesn’t matter if you’re organizing storage drawers full of craft supplies, scrubbing toilets, or dusting and vacuuming – this is a great way to get fun and creative with cleaning.  Afterward you can pick the funniest videos to post for grandparents.

Once you got the spring cleaning off your mind, check out this article for some great ideas to entertain kids during spring break.

5 Organization Hacks That Will Save Time for Busy Moms

Life never seems to slow down for busy moms.  Your life can sometimes feel like a tornado struck – and your house has the clutter to prove it.

You can, however, enjoy a clutter-free home and less wasted time by employing a few simple, organizational hacks.  Fifteen extra minutes a day might not seem like much to some people, but for harried moms it could mean an energy-boosting nap or time to grab a latte.  So here are some hacks that are sure to please.

1 Clear Bins

You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to know that organizing begins by having a place for everything.  This isn’t news to anyone.  However, the storage solutions you choose could make a world of difference.

Forget about labeling everything for now – simply start with clear bins.  This way you can easily see everything from pasta and dry goods in the pantry, to craft supplies in the office, to toys in the playroom.  You’ll save tons of time finding that special toy or the ingredients for dinner.

2 Storage for Each Child

If you want to avoid inevitable fights over school and craft supplies, for example, simply make sure each child has their own toys, tools, and storage drawers or cubbies to keep them in.  When it comes to getting homework and craft projects done, the less fighting the better.

3 Mock Cabinet Pull-outs

Installing tracks and bins that pull out of cupboards in order to make the most of your storage space and increase ease of use is smart.  It can also be difficult and expensive.

Make it easy on yourself with this simple hack: mock cabinet pull-outs.  Instead of bins on roller tracks, simply place items in regular storage baskets or bins.  You can easily slide them out of your cabinets to get at the items inside.

4 Door Storage

Busy moms are often in search of creative new ways to store kids clothing, toys, and craft supplies.  Seriously, could relatives just stop sending your kids so much stuff?  Not that you’re ungrateful, but where are you supposed to put it all?

Why not use door space for storage?  There are a variety of storage solutions to choose from, with hangers, hooks, and even bins and jute baskets, and all can provide additional storage options for cluttered households.

5 Make a Custom Chore Chart

This is easier than you can imagine.  All you have to do is place colored tape strips on a magnetic board or your fridge to create a weekly or monthly calendar.  Then get a roll of magnetic tape or pre-cut strips and use a label maker to create numbered days, as well as chores and names of family members.

Assigning weekly chores is as simple as slapping corresponding names and chores on days of the week.  Putting the time in up front makes for incredible ease of use later on.

5 Areas of Your Home You Are Forgetting to Clean

No matter how clean or organized you think you are, there are places in your house where Swamp Thing would feel right at home. While floors, kitchen surfaces and sink get attention on a regular basis here are a few common areas that might have been left of your cleaning to-do list.

1 Bathroom Accessories

Sure, you wipe down the bathroom floors and clean the vanity counters, but there is a whole universe of germs and bacteria lurking that evades your mop.  For instance – think about your toothbrush.  Even if you replace your brush every few month, how often do you clean out the toothbrush holder?

Also, add your bathmats to your regular cleaning schedule. They are hotbeds for mold and mildew and most can go in the washer and dryer.  Next time you change your sheets, throw in your bath mats too.

2 Major Appliances

Your dishwasher and washing machine are the bedrocks of your daily cleaning – turning grass-stained shorts and plates caked with dried, sticky food looking like new again.  But what about the appliances themselves – how often do these get cleaned?

Fortunately, there is a tool for every job and cleaning out the insides of your major appliances is no different. There are cleaning pods made specifically for cleaning your dishwasher and washing machine, but you can also make your own cleaning solution from ingredients you already have on hand.

Simply pour one cup of white vinegar into the bottom of an empty dishwasher, run it on the heavy cleaning cycle and voila, clean as new! Afterwards, you can add one cup of baking soda across the bottom of the still-empty dishwasher on a short, hot cycle for a bright and fresh-smelling machine.

This miracle combination of white vinegar and baking soda can also be used for your washing machine. Set your empty machine to run on hot with the largest load setting and, after it has filled with water, add 3-4 cups of white vinegar.  Allow the machine to agitate and mix with the vinegar for a minute and then add in a half cup of baking soda. Pause the machine and let the water/vinegar/baking soda mix sit for 30-60 minutes and then resume to let it finish its cycle.

3 Kitchen Trashcans

Does your kitchen sometimes have this lingering odor that you just can’t quite place, even after taking out the trash, running the garbage disposal, and wiping down your fridge? The culprit is probably hiding in plain sight – your garbage can.

Garbage juice, for lack of a better word, can leak out of your liners and leave a musty, rancid and offensive smell behind. Remember to wipe down the insides of your cans whenever you take out the trash.

4 Upholstery

When organizing your Spring Cleaning chores this year, add upholstery to your list. Upholstered furniture pieces and drapery collects dust, dirt and stains; yet despite this they are rarely if ever cleaned.

Whether you decide to DIY this cleaning project or call in a professional cleaning crew, giving your furniture and drapes a good deep cleaning will freshen up your space.

5 Laundry Hampers

Keeping an organized home requires hampers for everyone in your family so you don’t have socks and dirty undies strewn throughout the house. These hampers store muddy, sweaty, and just plain gross dirty clothes.  Invariably, these germs transfer onto the hamper itself.  Clean the hamper liner every month or so to better protect your clothes from getting even dirtier as you wait to do your next load of wash.