5 Steps to Declutter Your Kitchen Counters

Let’s be honest, kitchens are hard to keep clean. No matter what we do stuff always tends to gather on the counters making the entire room look cluttered. If you are tired of your messy kitchen counters, this quick and easy guide on how to Declutter your kitchen counters is just what you need to fix them for good.

Another great tip that you can use for kitchen organization and create a room that is neat and mess-free and fun to cook in again.


Cluttered kitchen counters can be so frustrating. We do our best to keep things off those areas, but somehow that spot never seems to stay clean for more than five minutes.

Glasses pile up next to the sink, mail and receipts and pens accumulate on the countertop, and spices get pushed to the back of the cabinet where you can never find them when you need them.

Does this all sound familiar? If so that may mean it is time to declutter your kitchen counters once and for all.

Kitchen and dish washing cleaning supplies ready to be used on dirty, filthy dishware.

There is something about an open and tidy space that begs to us to drop the stuff onto it. Especially when our arms are full of bags of groceries, baskets of laundry, mail, papers, and random stacks of just about anything.

The problem isn’t the dropping of our things, it’s the leaving the stuff there for days on end. And, even worse is when we keep adding more to it as time goes on until important papers become buried and lost in the mess.

messy kitchen counter covered in clutter

Before you can streamline your counters to keep them from getting messy you first need to clear the slate. Remove the clutter you have on there now so you can start fresh.

Let’s see if we can transform your kitchen into a room you love to cook in once again.

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How to Declutter Your Kitchen Counters

I know decluttering is not going to be the highlight of your day, but the results sure will be! My goal is to help make the decluttering a little bit easier, less overwhelming, and quicker to do.

Step #1. Uncover the Clutter

Before you start dealing with the random stuff on your kitchen counters you first need to uncover the clutter. These are what I like to call the 3 core steps and they are the magic behind turning a huge cluttered mess into one that is much easier to deal with.

Do the 3 core steps

Always do these three steps before you begin decluttering an area in your home.

  • Remove the Trash – Arm yourself with a trash bag and walk your room. Gather up anything that can be thrown away—empty food bags, napkins, tissues, paper, etc. Take the trash immediately to your trash can.
  • Remove the Recyclables – Arm yourself with another bag and gather up any bottles, soda cans, papers, etc. Take what you have to your recycling bin.
  • Put Away – Finally, use a laundry basket to gather up any items you see that belong in. another room. Look for dishes, toys, tools, papers, shoes, mail, and anything you know that belongs elsewhere. Once you are done, take the time to walk your home, putting everything inside your basket all the way away.

Please do not overthink these steps; they are meant to be easy so you can declutter your kitchen counters without freaking out. Use them to get a quick win, and let that motivation drive you as you work through the clutter.

Three Steps to Take Before You Declutter

a pile of random things in front of a basket labeled put away

Step #2. Put Things Away

Next, let’s focus on anything you can easily put away.

Many times what we think is clutter is actually just random items we did not put all the way away. This is a great clutter-free habit to adopt going forward.

Be intentional.

Each time you are done using something, take a few extra seconds to put it all the way away. This one habit will greatly reduce the stuff you always have lying out.

woman returning paper towels to a pantry in a kitchen

Things to put away in the kitchen.

  • Dishes – put away if they are clean or into the sink if they are dirty.
  • Food – put into the pantry or refrigerator.
  • Rags or dirty kitchen towels – put in the laundry room if they are dirty or away if they are clean.
  • Trash or recyclables – as you are decluttering if you have any trash or recyclables put them into the can.

As you are putting things away make a mental note of what you see a lot of. This will help you to set up organizers going forward to hold these things so they no longer end up lying out as clutter.

I call these areas “clutter hot spots” and they are basically the spots where clutter tends to accumulate. By simply placing a basket in that area the clutter can go there instead of just lying out giving a chaotic appearance to your kitchen.

Items in a basket can be so easy to deal with, whereas items scattered over a counter can be stressful and overwhelming.

Quote: Clutter free habit - put your things all the way away

The easier you make it to put things away where they belong the more likely you and your entire family will be to do just that. Put things all the way away.

Step #3. Appliances

Having too many appliances or kitchen gadgets lined up on your counters can give a look of clutter. If you only keep out what you use often you can really streamline your kitchen in a more efficient way.

Take a look at what you have out on your counters now and ask yourself, do these things need to be here? Small appliances, oils, spices, and crocks of utensils can all give the appearance of a messy and cluttered kitchen.

For mess-free counters, it is best to only keep the things out that you use every day.

Items that get used frequently:

  • Toaster
  • Coffee maker or Keurig
  • Can opener
  • Microwave
  • Toaster oven

That means that any appliances you use weekly or monthly can be safely stored away freeing up space on your kitchen counters.

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Items that get used sporadically:

  • Instant pot
  • Air fryer
  • Crockpot
  • Indoor grill

Where can you store small kitchen appliances?

Small appliances can be stored on the floor in the kitchen pantry. On a shelf in a hall closet, in a lower cabinet in the kitchen, or even in a basement on a shelf.

The less frequently you use an item the further away you can safely store it. For example, holiday serving dishes can safely be stored in an attic or other storage area since they are only used annually. Whereas an indoor grill should be stored in a cabinet since it is used weekly or more often.

85 Things to Declutter Without Freaking Out

Step #4. Extras

In our home, fresh fruit is something we all enjoy and that is why there is a bowl of bananas and apples always out on my kitchen counter. For our family that is an item that deserves space on our counter.

fruit sitting out on a clutter free kitchen counter

In another home, fruit may not be something that is always out but maybe a basket of bread is.

The point is to know what your family likes and uses often so you can better determine what will get a spot in the kitchen. Just because you take vitamins every day does not mean you want a collection of bottles sitting out at all times.

Instead, you can have a pill organizer on the counter organizing your medicine and freeing up valuable space for other things.

details of a hand carefully organizing prescriptions pills for a weekly dose

Step #5. Use Containers

The trick to keeping kitchen counters free of stuff is to make it easy to put things away. We talked about this in step 2 and this is so important we are going to talk about it once again.

When you can make it easy to return things to their home you will eliminate most, if not all, of the clutter headaches you have now.

How to keep a kitchen island clutter-free?

The easiest way to keep a kitchen island or any counter clutter-free is to use baskets or bins to hold things you use. This will allow you to toss things in quickly without having to overthink it.

We tend to run into issues with clutter when we put too much thought it into what we do. Make it easy so you can stick with it.

Here are a few ideas to try out:

a pouch on a wall near the stove to hold recipes

Other organizers for clutter-free counters:

When you can set up shortcuts to make it easy to keep things where they belong you will, in turn, keep your kitchen counters free of clutter without overthinking it. A great trick to use when working to declutter your kitchen counters and streamline a room you love to cook and be in.

More Decluttering Resources:

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