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5 Tips for cleaning out your pantry

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

Purge that pantry!

The kitchen pantry often ends up a dead zone where cleaning is concerned. Items are tucked away from view, so neglecting to clean the space is easy. A clean, well-organized pantry can improve shopping and cooking efficiency, however, leading to faster meal prep and lower grocery bills. To take advantage of these benefits, clean out your pantry using these quick cleaning tips.

organized pantry

1Start with a clean sweep

You won't be able to see what you're working with until you've completely removed everything from your pantry. Small containers and packages of spices tend to fall over and get pushed to the back. By emptying your pantry, you may uncover a few hidden gems that you'd completely forgotten.

2Sort and purge

Once everything's out of your pantry, take inventory of your supplies and decide what to keep and what to toss. If you have a tendency to hang onto unused goods("I may use that... someday"),  consider this advice from Alejandra Ramos, owner of Alejandra Ramos Culinary & Lifestyle: 

"If you don't use it, throw it out! Those old protein or diet shakes, the high-fiber breakfast cereal you bought with good intentions, and that new popcorn flavor you bought but didn't like need to go. If it's unopened and unspoiled, donate it. If it's opened, toss it. No sense in crowding your shelves with past mistakes."

Other items you should toss include:

  • Dented cans
  • Bags and boxes with rips or tears
  • Spices older than one year
  • Items that are expired
  • Any bulk food item with an unknown purchase date

3Categorize

Once you've purged your pantry, categorize your remaining items in a manner similar to a grocery store. Lisa Adams of LA Closet Design suggests grouping canned goods on one shelf and condiments on another, creating a breakfast center and so forth. Keeping your pantry organized in this fashion will make it easier to identify the items you need when heading to the store or making a meal.

4Clean

Before restocking your pantry with your newly categorized supplies, make sure you thoroughly clean out the space. Start at the top shelf and wipe down all surfaces with a warm, damp towel, then dry the shelves completely. Use your vacuum's dusting attachment to dust corners and floors. If any of your food containers are sticky or dusty, wipe them down before placing them back in the pantry.

5Organize

It's one thing to clean out your pantry; it's another to keep it clean and organized. By putting in a little effort initially, you'll save yourself the hassle down the road. Bins, airtight containers, shelf dividers and under-shelf baskets can help you keep things fresh and in their proper places. Get out your labelmaker and label the pantry categories so your family will know where to replace supplies after using them.

expert tip

"Have little ones in your home? Create an easy-to-reach shelf for them in the pantry where they can easily grab a snack. Make sure to include healthy foods like granola bars, raisins, air-popped popcorn and other items on this shelf. Make sure to store the least healthy snacks (like candy and chips) towards the top where these items are out-of-reach for the kids." – Jill Kushinksy, chief cleaning officer at MaidPro

Read more

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Keeping things clean for drop-in guests
5 Tips for a sparkling clean kitchen

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