Since the release of her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo has been making lives more orderly. Once her Netflix show began airing in 2019, however, the world burst into a frenzy of de-cluttering, folding and horizontal stacking.
Many people are now familiar with Kondo’s method for folding and storing clothes — it’s been seen everywhere from “The Today Show” and Good Housekeeping to Real Simple and even “Ellen.” But the book is obviously about so much more than one’s closet. We decided to sink our teeth in and discover some of Marie Kondo’s tips for decluttering a kitchen to lead to a life that is joyfully orderly.
“Spark joy” is essentially the mantra behind Marie Kondo’s organizing philosophy. It’s a simple concept — only keep things in your life that make you happy or spark joy. “Now imagine yourself living in a space that contains only things that spark joy. Isn’t this the lifestyle you dream of? Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.” Obviously when it comes to a kitchen, you may have to consider what sparks joy with a grain of salt — your oven might not give you that tingly feeling, but you should probably keep it anyway, right?
To facilitate ease of cleaning and keep things looking ship-shape, it’s important to keep counter clutter to minimum. Many people leave everyday staples like oil and salt within easy reach, but all too often that can lead to a whole mess of items that end up greasy and make a kitchen look sloppy, even if it has just been cleaned. “A counter is for preparing food, not for storing things,” Kondo writes in her 2014 book. “Shelves and cupboards are usually designed to store seasonings and spices, so put them away where they belong.”
If you have a set of fancy dishes that you only use when guests come over, it’s time to reconsider your dish situation. Instead of saving the best for special occasions, decrease your collection of dishes and use the special ones all the time. One again, you are aiming, as much as possible, to spark joy. You may not be able to choose your fridge or even some smaller yet essential kitchen appliances, but you certainly can inject a little joy at each meal by loving the dishes you use. “Make the dishes you love the ones you use every day,” Kondo writes.
Kondo insists that anything past its expiration date be tossed, so it’s time to take a long, hard and critical look at those hard-to-reach shelves in the pantry and any containers in the fridge that were opened long ago and then forgotten. Old spices that have lost their flavor, old bottles of hot sauce with faded labels and old dust-covered cans should all be carefully considered and discarded.
This rule makes plenty of sense. After all, why hang on to something that doesn’t work? Often, people keep things with the intention of getting them fixed, but when that doesn’t happen, the inefficiency of keeping the item inevitably leads to inconvenience and could very well spark the opposite of joy. Make your kitchen more functional and you will be happier working in it — after all, is there anything more annoying that dealing with a broken appliance when trying to get dinner on the table?
While Marie Kondo is a huge proponent of keeping counters clear, she does make exceptions for those things you want to use more frequently. Are you trying to eat breakfast more regularly? Having the blender on the counter might be just the way to maintain a healthy (and delicious) smoothie habit that will make you feel all kinds of sparky joy in the long run. Keep your water filter in plain sight and you may very well feel encouraged to drink more water, which is obviously no bad thing!
It you are trying to use an item less, be sure to put it away and keep it off the counter. Making too many waffles (or simply making too many indulgent things in your waffle iron)? Then put your waffle iron away in a cupboard and you may find you use is less. If something is no longer out on the counter, you will (hopefully) use it less and be happier in doing so.
For pantry items like dried goods, clear storage containers are a no brainer—they ensure you can see what you have on hand easily and, when neatly labeled , offer an effortless way to keep tabs on what’s in the pantry. The fridge is another place where clear storage can be beneficial and help spark more joy in the kitchen. Imaging a fridge where things don’t get lost and go bad before you can use them! Utilize containers to keep order and you will be able to cut down on waste. Your fridge will be a joy to look into, and this technique is one of the ways you can ensure your food lasts longer.
Everything should have a designated spot throughout your home, and the kitchen is no different. If everything in your kitchen has a designated home, then “keeping your space tidy becomes second nature,” according to Kondo. “You can do it effortlessly, even when you come home tired from work,” she writes, “and this gives you more time to really enjoy life.” While you are in the organizing mood, be sure to utilize some of these 21 all-natural cleaning tips for your home.
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