Are you an uber-organised minimalist whose kitchen looks like Marie Kondo and Pinterest’s love child? We applaud you. If your kitchen resembles more of a disturbing way station for stuffed animals, mail, hairbrushes, stickers, and disembodied Legos, we…have a friend whose kitchen is exactly like that. While we don’t know what this is like personally, we hear it’s kind of a nightmare.
No matter your organisation skills (or lack thereof), there are certain household items that just shouldn’t actually be stored on your kitchen counters. Besides the sheer anxiety mess can cause, there are other valid reasons to tuck the following items away.
Rarely used kitchen appliances
In a recent study conducted by MasterBrand, 60 per cent of respondents said countertop clutter was the main source of their home storage stress, with appliances being the main offender.
Our own research uncovered that every kitchen organizational expert on the internet agrees: Appliances you don’t use daily should be put away, even though they’re tough to store, and even though it’s a pain in the arse to lug them out when you need them. Things like blenders, stand-mixers, juicers, bread machines, electric can openers, and even toasters if you’re not using them every morning should be put away. Perhaps a bit of pantry floor space can be dedicated to these items, if you can.
Not only do knife blocks take up valuable real estate on your counter and breed bacteria, but the repeated scraping of the blade against wood upon removal can also dull your knives over time. Alternatives include wall-mounted magnetic knife strips or a dedicated knife drawer with slotted inserts. If you need to keep knives away from small children, consider mounting a magnetic rack inside a locked cabinet, storing them in a washable knife holder on a top-shelf, or a drawer with a magnetic lock.
Whatever you do, don’t just toss them in a drawer with other kitchen gadgets. Besides the inherent danger of cutting yourself, the knocking of the blade against other metal objects will dull the knife and create nicks.
Piles of paper
You’ve washed the dishes, sprayed the counter, swept the floor, and you can finally relax for the night. But, wait. There’s that damn out-of-control paper pile, full of junk mail, newspapers, coupons, and kid artwork you need to throw away but feel guilty about. Not only does it steal your sense of peace, if it gets wet, you’ll have a fun paper-scraping project to spend your “free time” on. If organising them daily just isn’t possible, create a dedicated shelf or drawer in which to toss them until they can be properly sorted.
Storing olive oil in direct sunlight and close to heat decreases its quality; and keeping it next to the stove, while convenient, can make it go rancid faster. If your bottles are on the larger side and can’t be stored anywhere but in a pantry (thanks, Costco), place a smaller amount in a shelf-sized container to be kept in a cabinet within arm’s reach (but not next to) your stove.
You mean, those super cute magnetic spice jars for the side of my fridge aren’t optimal? Sadly, no. Similar to olive oil, heat, humidity, and sunlight all weaken the efficacy of spices by breaking down the chemical compounds that given them their distinct flavours and scents. To avoid them getting mouldy, store them in airtight containers in cabinets away from your stovetop.
Will it harm anyone if you keep pretty canisters of sugar, flour, and pasta on your countertop? No (except your quick oats might feel left out). But they’re called pantry staples for a reason. Also, according to The Spruce Eats, “rancid smells happen because the fats in whole grain flours oxidize when exposed to air and moisture.” So proper storage of flour is important for freshness — and to achieve desired baking results.
Serveware and mugs
Serving platters, trays, even utensils have no place on the countertop. Not only are they more susceptible to breaking, they’ll be gunked over with a thick film of dust and grease that will need to be washed off when it comes time to use them. Same goes for mugs and collectible figurines.
If you want to keep a favourite, oft-used cutting board on the counter, we won’t fault you. (For you own sanity, at least prop it up against the wall, preferably behind something else that can hold it up.) But unless you want to rinse and dry the dust off each time (and worry that they may still harbour some germs that can contaminate your countertop) it’s best to keep them stored out of sight.
You may use them often, and they may lend to the aesthetic feel you’re trying to create. But over time they will be caked in indiscriminate kitchen grime, the covers may fade from sun exposure and the pages my stick together. The Barefoot Contessa deserves better.
Take inventory of your cabinets. Are there some birthday candles, potholders, straws, and old restaurant napkins that can be re-organised to create space next to your stove? Tuck away as much as you can, so as not to clutter your vision, cloud your mind, and make more work for yourself. Because who needs that.