Under the kitchen sink

Today for our March Micro-Minimizing Challenge we’re diving into the cupboard under our kitchen sink. (If you prefer video, scroll to the bottom of this post.)

I find this area frustrating to organize because of all the pipes to work around. Although there are specialized organizers you can buy, I recommend holding off. Once you’ve reduced what you keep under the sink, you will likely be able to save that money.

Typically, under a kitchen sink we find dish detergent, dishwasher tabs, garbage refuge containers, household cleaners, garbage bags, maybe the fly swatter, insecticides…. What do you have under your sink?

Since my kids were born (ahem, over 20 years ago), I moved household cleaners to my laundry room. I also recently relegated my boxes of garbage bags there as well as they take up a lot of room in a squishy space. We now only have four items under our kitchen sink: dishwasher tabs, dish washing detergent, compost bucket, and garbage can. That’s it. Everything is easy to access at the front of the cupboard and there’s no need to digging to the back.

A couple of prep tips before you start. Get yourself a folded towel to kneel on to protect your knees while you work on this one. And take breaks as you need too if you have knee, hip or back issues. Or even better, get some help. This is intentional self-care being prioritized.

Have a bag for garbage handy. Depending on what you keep under the sink, it’s unlikely you’ll have items to donate, but only you know this for sure. So, have a box for donations ready if you need.

Step number one – open those cupboards and take a before picture! This can help be very rewarding when you’ve finished your project. Sometimes we forget what it looked like when we started and need a reminder. This is a great way to get yourself a hit of endophins (those feel good hormones) when you can see the transformation.

Do yourself a favour, if you keep your garbage under your sink, remove the garbage bag. This makes your workspace more pleasant for the time being.

Take items out of your cupboard one-by-one, starting at the front and work your way towards to the back. With each item you take out ask yourself:

  1. Do I use this?
  2. When did I last use this?
  3. Does it have an expiry date? Is it past expiry?
  4. Is this the proper “home” for this item?

A note about homes. You’ll hear me talk about this a lot over the next month. Every item needs a home. If you’re not sure where the proper home should be, ask yourself this question:

“If I was looking for this item, where would I look?”

The FIRST place that pops into your mind, is the home. It’s the natural place you think of to look for it when you need it. If the home for the item is not under the kitchen sink, move it to where the proper home should be. Only place it in the area of the proper home, and then go back to the kitchen sink. It’s easy at this transition point to get distracted and start organizing the new home for the item. Stop. Just place the item there and go back to the kitchen sink cupboard.

Items past expiry are garbage.

Take each item out of the cupboard and add it to either your keep or garbage pile until the cupboard is completely empty.  For your keep pile, put “like” things together into categories – dish cleaners, garbage bags, household cleaners, etc, for whatever you keep under your sink. Everyone’s sinks will look different.

Now that your cupboard is empty, give it a wipe clean. With the garbage bag removed from the can, does the can need a cleaning? Now’s the time. It’ll take less than five minutes.

Once your cupboard is clean, and you have less stuff to return to this area, it’s time to start organizing your items to go back to their home. The fantastic side effect to minimizing is automatic organization.

Place the items you use least often into the cupboard first towards the back. Keeping like items together. And work your way towards the front of the cupboard with the items you use more often and then items used most often should be within easy reach right at the front. This is the time when you consider if any sort of organization containers or shelving would be helpful for you. Now that you can see what you’re keeping, would it be helpful to have cleaners in a tub at near the back of the cupboard that you can just pull it forward to make reaching those items easier? Would one of those under sink units with adjustable shelving make your life easier? Spending money on these types of organizational items can be worth it or a complete waste of money. But only you can decide what works for your storage space. If you need some guidance here, I’m happy to help. Reach out to me and we can make arrangements to chat.

Place a clean garbage bag into your garbage can. Remove the garbage from your home. If you did have donations, place the box by the door with a tight deadline to remove it from your home, I recommend three days max.

Take an AFTER picture! Then you can compare your before and after and you’ll be amazed at the change! Well done!

I welcome your ideas, thoughts, and questions in the comments below.

Remember you can share your journey with me and others by using hashtag #MarchMicroMinimizing, and tag me on Facebook or Instagram using handle @suzannegouldenILC.

Here’s me talking about decluttering under the kitchen sink!

Leave a Reply