The four biggest mistakes you’re making in your kitchen cupboards (and how to fix them)

Organise your kitchen cupboards like a pro with these expert tips.

Spring has sprung, and with it comes the urge to banish clutter and breathe new life into our homes.

But when it comes to spring cleaning, how often do you tackle your kitchen cupboards? Left untouched they can quickly morph into a warzone of out-of-date spices and unopened mystery jars.

Organising your kitchen storage space will not only make everything more efficient, but it can also save you money – just make sure you’re not making one of these mistakes…

A nicely organised kitchen cupboardCredit: Shutterstock/Galina Sharapova

1. Holding onto expired or unused items

Make time for a big clear out

We all do it. Buy a random jar of herbs or spices for a one-off recipe and when we go to use it again, it’s well past it’s sell-by-date. Spring is a great time to really go through each cupboard and check what’s still worth keeping or chucking away. 

“Have a clear out of all the cabinets, cupboards, drawers and shelves,” says Sophie Lane, Miele’s product training manager, who suggests using a vacuum attachment or handheld vacuum cleaner for getting to those hard-to-reach crumbs inside your cupboards.

She continues: “Deep clean inside the cabinets as well as all the worksurfaces, moving small appliances and accessories to one side. Get rid of out-of-date food and ingredients, not forgetting that spice rack.”

Diana Halim, Marketing Manager at Kilner suggests recycling any waste, but also seeing what you can donate to someone else.

If you have non-perishables that you know you won’t use, you can donate them to your local food bank,” she advises.


Where do you keep your herbs and spices?

Leaving them out on the counter in a spice rack or something similar may be harming them. Spices, for example, can lose their taste quickly if exposed to the sun.

As well as storing them in a cupboard, you can also get special drawer organisers. These mean you can lay them out flat and see exactly what you need, so you won’t waste money buying duplicates.

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Clear Acrylic Spice Drawer Organiser

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Clear Acrylic Spice Drawer Organiser

2. Not having a proper system

Make finding things easier

One of the reasons our kitchen cupboards get out of control is because there’s no proper system in place. Halim says once you’ve taken everything out of the cupboards, have a good think about the products you use the most.

“When placing everything back, put everything you use daily in an easily accessible place and items you don’t use as often further back,” she says.

“Shelving organisers or a lazy Susan can also be helpful, allowing you to see smaller items without having to pull everything out.”

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The Home Edit & iDesign Single Tier Storage Turntable

It’s also a good idea to sort items into categories so you can easily lay your hands on what you need. For example, group together baking goods, or cereals or preserves.

3. Keeping things in their original packaging

Make storage easier

Decanting products into speciality storage boxes and jars allows you to organise everything more easily, plus you can see what’s left. This translates to smarter shopping trips, as you’ll know what needs replacing without the risk of buying duplicates. Choosing storage with airtight seals also ensures dry food will last longer, so you won’t ever have to deal with a biscuit that’s lost its crunch again.

Utilising uniform containers also means that you’ll free up more space – things will fit together more neatly and you won’t have to hunt around for that lone stock cube!

While there are lots of BPA-friendly plastic storage choices, if you’re trying to be more sustainable glass is a better option.

“It’s easily recycled even if it’s broken, whereas plastic is a lot harder to recycle,” says Halim.  “Glass also won’t absorb flavours or odours, meaning that whatever you store in them, the smells won’t linger after washing.”

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Kilner Clip Top Round 3 Litre Jar

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Kilner Clip Top Round 3 Litre Jar

Look after your containers

Just as you spring clean your cupboards, don’t forget to regularly clean any storage containers.

“Give them a clean with warm, soapy water and dry thoroughly to ensure they don’t spoil any items that will be stored in them,” says Halim.

4. Unlabelled jars

Prevent mystery mayhem

If you’re decanting products into jars a little organisation – and some labels – are just what you need.

“The easiest way to identify your caster from your granulated sugar is to add small labels to each jar, and if necessary, you can date these too,” advises Halim.

You can get chalk labels, that allow you to rewrite on them if you change what’s in the jar. You might also want to keep any instructions that came with the food and tape them to the jar.


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Chalkboard Reusable Labels

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Chalkboard Reusable Labels

Measure before you buy

While storage solutions can be a real godsend for creating calm in a chaotic kitchen, make sure you measure up before your buy. There’s nothing worse than purchasing some fabulous containers only to realise they’re too tall for your shelves.

Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her


Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

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