Is your pantry a mess? It’s never too late to whip your pantry into better shape. You’ll know where to find everything — and you might just feel more motivated to cook!

The benefits of a pantry deep clean don’t end there, either. But how should you get started? Read on to learn how to clean and organize your pantry!

Take Everything Out of Your Pantry First

It might be tempting to sort through items without removing them, but you’re better off taking everything out first. Don’t try to shuffle things around! When you take everything out, you’ll be able to assess your inventory more easily. 

Place everything on your kitchen table or island so you can see each item clearly. Anything that’s visibly damaged or decayed should be thrown out right away.

If possible, grab a family member to help you with this part of the process. You’ll build awareness about what’s actually in your pantry. And you’ll get honest feedback about which products you intend to use going forward.

As you contemplate how to organize your pantry after the deep clean, keep your family members in mind. It may be helpful to have some kid-friendly and healthy items on a lower shelf that the kids can reach. Or you may want popcorn and peanut butter in the most central location. 

Wipe Down the Shelves to Clean Your Pantry

Once everything is out of your pantry, take some time to clean the pantry surfaces. If you have old contact paper, replace it. Grab a cleaning solution and sponge, and clean your pantry!

A good deep clean can remove stickiness from spills or grease that might attract ants. You’ll also remove bacteria or other germs that could contaminate the surfaces. For the ultimate deep clean, enlist a professional cleaning service to do this for you.

And give your shelves plenty of time to air out. Avoid rushing to put everything back. This will ensure that the surfaces are fully dry — and won’t trap moisture that could attract mold or pests.

If you notice cracked jars when you clean and organize your pantry, either throw away the product or transfer the contents to a new container. Seal them and label them clearly.

Remove Expired or Unwanted Items

As you’re sorting through items during a deep clean, check the expiration dates. Set anything aside that expired, and track just how many items require that you do this. If half of the items on your table are expired, that’s a sign that you should rein in your spending.

Similarly, analyze the items for desirability. Did you buy a spice on a whim that you never even touched? Or did you get some granola bars that never lived up to your taste expectations?

Discard anything that is unwanted. Don’t hold on to a false hope that you’ll use a product when you know you won’t. Better yet, if the food is unopened, consider donating it to a food pantry.

Watch for seasonal or holiday products, too. You may have purchased a pumpkin cookie mix last October with the intention of using it. Don’t cling to that intention when it’s July in the following year.

Discard outdated seasonal food items. Or gather usable items together so you’ll have an obvious place to access them.

Organize Your Pantry with Labels and Groupings 

Even after you remove expired products, you need to do a little more organizing. Simply putting everything back doesn’t set you up for efficient pantry management in the future. Labels are key to creating a more organized pantry. 

Before you put everything back in the pantry, determine what kind of organizational system you want to use. You can organize ingredients for a meal together. Or you can put related types of food together. 

Group items together while they still are out of the pantry. For instance, you might want cereals and breakfast bars to be together. And if those are the dominant items in your pantry, consider designating an entire shelf for them.

Use plastic bins to group smaller items, like spices or mixes, together in one area. If you don’t already have a label maker, consider getting one so you can label each bin or shelf clearly. As the inventory in your pantry changes, you’ll be able to remove old labels in favor of updated ones.

Prioritize Based on Expiration Dates and Demand

It’s far too easy to waste food — and a pantry cleaning can help you see this. With nearly 40% of food wasted in America, you can do your part to help. Organizing your pantry according to expiration dates will ensure that you use food in the right order and minimize waste. 

You may even want to designate a shelf or basket for high-priority foods. Doing this may force you to get a little more creative with your weekly meal prep. But it also will help reduce waste and trim your grocery budget!

You’ll also help to curate your pantry in the process. You may discover that chickpea pasta isn’t your favorite pasta, for instance. But by moving that item to the front, you’ll be forced to use it — and know not to buy it in the future.

Make Pantry Cleaning a Priority 

When you organize your pantry, you’ll help create a more efficient system for using your food. You can save money by putting foods with closer expiration dates toward the front. And you’ll make it easier for everyone in your family to find the ingredients or snacks that they want.

If you want a cleaner pantry or home, contact us and we can help!