I’ve got kitchen cleaning and reorganization on my mind. It’s quite easy. That’s because at this moment I do not have a kitchen.

Photo credit for my dream baking center: tidbits-cami.com

As I write, my husband is in full-on remodel mode. Two months ago, everything in the pantry, drawers, and cupboards was hastily thrown into boxes by me, then moved out of the way of his wrecking ball.

With precious little time to clear the place out, I did a dumb thing: As fast as I could, I threw everything from half-empty boxes of cereal, chips, and pasta to stacks of placemats and forgotten salad tongs into myriad boxes, giving no thought to organization. I just got notice that very soon it will be time to move everything back into my beautiful new kitchen. I receive this news with mixed emotions. I’m so excited, I can barely sleep. But it’s this sea of boxes filled with who-knows-what—not one of them labeled in any way—that may be keeping me awake.

Cynthia Townley Ewer, author of Cut the Clutter, says the first thing I need to do is harden my heart. An efficient, convenient kitchen, she says, must be pared to the bone. To create a clean and organized kitchen, I must dare to dump anything and everything that is not absolutely necessary and useful.


Cynthia instructs me to prepare four boxes with these labels:

  1. Put Away Kitchen
  2. Put Away Elsewhere
  3. Give Away or Sell
  4. Storage

Next, I am to tackle one shelf, drawer and cupboard at a time putting each item into its proper box.


Once everything has found its box, send three of the boxes out of the kitchen. And now comes decision time. Cynthia is ruthless in suggesting I need to just get rid of the electric french-fry fryer, that gelatin mold in the shape of Mount Rushmore and the odd collection of sports bottles each boasting a different walk-a-thon. Ditto for pans I don’t use, dishes I don’t like, and specialty cooking tools that are more trouble to clean than to use so I never use them anyway.


It’s time to begin. And I’m going to follow Cynthia’s kitchen decluttering plan starting at the top—the top shelves which Cynthia says resemble an unknown landscape at the back of the moon. (I keep wondering when she’s been sneaking into my kitchen because she seems to know this place quite well.)

Here’s Ewer’s Rule: If you’ve used it in the last month, it’s a candidate to stay. If you used it yesterday, that will be the backbone of your newly organized kitchen. 

I am committed, I am determined. I will box and banish. I will show no mercy in my attempts to pawn off on my kids, friends, and neighbors all the stuff too good to throw away but not worthy of a spot in my kitchen. Yes, I will. And I will not stop until every shelf, every cupboard, every nook and cranny of my kitchen is cleared, cleaned and organized.

Then I’m going to invite Cynthia Ewer over for coffee. I won’t say a word. I’ll just wait for her to write about the lovely time she had at my home, drinking coffee in my sparkling clean, highly organized, minimalistic showcase-of-a-kitchen.

Because I have a feeling I may not be alone in this need for kitchen organization, I hereby announce the Everyday Cheapskate Spring Clean Kitchen Challenge. All who dare are invited to join me in this marathon event. Actually, I could use the company. Somehow knowing others are participating in the same task will keep me on track and moving forward.

The challenge—if you choose to participate—is to organize your kitchen from back to front and top to bottom, completing this task in the next 30 days. The only requirement to join is a willingness to get your kitchen organized. And to send me a message when you have finished so I can share your success.

PREVIOUSLY: How to Remove Icky Sticky Stuff, Home Chef Feedback, and Best Inexpensive Steam Iron

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