The 23 Smartest Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Counters Cleaner, Forever
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A kitchen with clean counters will serve you well in so many ways. Not only does it look sharp and orderly, but empty counters also offer you the most cooking space possible. Minimal counter clutter also means less stuff to clean because you can wipe counters easily—so cleared-off counters also tend to be clean and healthy counters, too.
Even if you like the lived-in look of a few intentionally placed items set out on the counters or you refuse to put the coffee pot away because you use it at least once a day, the more you can get off of your counters and stored elsewhere, the better.
Here are some creative ways to think about and store your kitchen items so that your counters stay as clear as possible:
1. Store as little as possible out on the counter
It seems obvious, but this is the foundation of your whole clean-counter mission: Store as much as you can away in cabinets and drawers, saving countertop space only for the absolute essentials. Much like the always-clean-sink principle in which you do your best to not even leave one dirty dish in the sink so that it doesn’t attract more, a cleared-off counter is much more likely to stay that way.
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2. Declutter your kitchen
The best way to create more space anywhere in your kitchen is to get rid of anything you don’t really need. Here’s a list of 27 Things to Declutter From Your Kitchen to get you started on your edit. Some common categories of things you can probably get rid of are duplicate kitchen tools, cookbooks you don’t ever (or rarely) use, and almost all those coupons and other paper scraps.
3. Hang knives from a magnetic knife rack
Rather than taking up counter space with a bulky knife block, hang knives from a magnetic strip instead. Your knives will still be just as accessible, but won’t take up any valuable horizontal surfaces.
4. Use trays or stands to corral items left on the counter
If you have things out on the counters, either by necessity or choice, placing them on trays or stands makes the difference between the look of a messy hodge-podge of things left out and a purposeful selection of items that you’ve chosen to keep within reach or on display. This kitchen uses trays, turntables, and even a plate to create homes for items left out on the counters.
Placing items that live on your counters together in eye-pleasing vignettes gives a far more orderly appearance than items spread out across the whole space. Groupings look meaningful and artistic instead of like stuff that has no other home.
6. Get cookbooks off the counter
Unless you’re truly referring to each of them, each day, your cookbooks are likely better off on a shelf up high, or even somewhere outside of the kitchen, rather than taking up counter space.
7. Keep attractive, large cookware on the stove top
A beautiful Dutch oven can live on your stove top. This frees up valuable real estate inside your cabinets, so you can use that space to store smaller things that you may otherwise be tempted to keep on top of your counter.
8. Or use the top of the fridge
Same concept here: freeing up cabinet space and therefore kitchen counter space. While we may not store something utilitarian on top of the fridge for fear of it looking out of place, the above Dutch oven must be left out for viewing pleasure, and it’s placement near a plant suggests the deliberateness of the move.
These counters are delightfully bare already, but the use of eye-catching stools ensures that any viewer’s gaze is pulled to the blue color rather than anything sitting on the counters.
10. Don’t allow certain items to stay out your counter
11. Add hooks to your backsplash
Instead of keeping sink-side essentials (like a dish scrubber and tea towel) taking up space on the counter, add a few removable adhesive hooks to your backsplash above or right next to the sink.
12. Use the sides of your cabinets for storage
A hook-and-rail system is perfect for storing small kitchen tools. By freeing up the space they take in your drawers, you could clear your whole utensil urn off the countertop.
13. Install a pegboard for ample wall storage
A pegboard opens up so many storage possibilities. This pegboard stores several types of items that are often stored on top of the counters, including oil and vinegar bottles, a pepper mill, wooden spoons, canisters, and a cutting board.
Adding a shelving unit to your kitchen can make your counters the workspaces they’re intended to be. The wire shelving unit above stores several typical “counter items,” including a stand mixer, fruit bowl, and knife block.
We get that leaving your produce out helps ensure that it gets eaten before it’s past its prime. But traditional fruit baskets take up valuable counter space. A hanging fruit basket like this one makes excellent use of vertical space that’s in the air and frees up usable square footage on your countertop.
16. Use a ceiling rack for more than just pots and pans
S-hooks allow you to hang just about anything from a ceiling rack that’s traditionally used for pots and pans. Hanging cooking utensils like spatulas and tongs that are often stored in containers on the countertop frees up counter space yet keeps them perpetually within your grasp.
Even a tiny rolling island can free up counter space. Use it to house something that’s been kept on your actual counter, like a butcher block. One with a shelf or two underneath opens up even more storage possibilities.
18. Store things (like cutting boards and tools) on the inside of a cabinet door
Rather than leaning them against your backsplash or putting them in a jar, hang adhesive hooks on the inside of a cabinet door to store your cutting boards and kitchen tools.
19. Use cake stands as “trays”
Even if the items you set on your cake stands aren’t completely off your counter, simply elevating them above the counter with a cake stand gives the same contained look that a tray accomplishes and makes it particularly easy to clean around. Set oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, or even your dish soap and sponge on them.
20. Lazy Susans also make good trays
Countertop items can also be contained on lazy Susans. What’s nice about these is that you can store a bit more on them and still have access to the items. This can lend an overall cleaner look because the items you have out are less spread apart.
21. Store your extra scrubbers and sponges on the inside of cabinet doors
22. Store cutting boards upright
If you definitely want to keep your cutting boards out, at least store them upright rather than set horizontally on the counter. You’ll take up far less counter space and still have your boards at arms-length.
23. Hang a storage rod on the wall
Adding a rod with hooks to a kitchen wall frees up drawer and cabinet space in order to ultimately free up counter space.