By Cynthia and Gregg Reed
A messy, disorganized pantry might be easy to ignore by simply closing the door. But the next time you need to grab something, you’ll face the half empty bags of chips and random canned foods strewn about or even falling down. Tackle those haphazard dry goods with some sensible steps and helpful organizational tools.
Empty, toss, and donate Start by emptying out your entire pantry. Throw away any food that is expired or stale. When ditching clutter from any type of storage area, it’s good to have a usage timeline. In other words, toss something if you haven’t used it over a certain period of time. If you haven’t consumed or even touched it in a couple of months, you probably never will.
Freshen up Now take a good look at the walls, shelving, and floor. Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces, not just for overall cleanliness, but also to eliminate odors and hinder potential pests. Vacuum up any loose crumbs that have accumulated on the shelves or floor and wipe down every surface. A fresh coat of paint on the walls or wood shelving might give your pantry an extra lift.
Try adding self-adhesive liners to solid shelving to protect them from future messes. They’re easy to install and don’t leave residue behind when peeled up. They also keep the bottoms of cans from scuffing up your newly painted shelves. Or add a thin, painted piece of plywood to wire shelving to keep items from falling through the rungs. If you lack shelving altogether, there are lots of modular units, simple bracket and plank shelving, or vinyl coated wire shelving systems available for any size pantry.
Put everything in its place Now that you’re ready to put everything away, make sure the items you’re keeping are wiped free of sticky drips or residue. Don’t just throw items back on the shelves — organize them in a way that works for you. Consider categorizing your food staples for convenience and frequency of use. Group like-items together and place products you use most often right up front.
Invest in organization Storage containers, especially for things like flour and sugar, keep your pantry tidy and organized. Pour these staples into air-tight containers that are both aesthetically pleasing and protective against bugs. A non-slip turntable keeps things within reach and maximizes space. Try a three-tiered plastic organizer for displaying spices, baking supplies, teas, cans, or condiments so they’re all together and easy to spot.
Let the pantry door work for you. Over-the-door or mountable storage organizers are easy to install and gain you extra real estate. Try a multi-roll rack that holds your aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and parchment paper boxes. It keeps them easily accessible right from the door and rolls stay in place when you pull out a sheet. A mounted plastic bag organizer is great for stuffing spare bags and dispensing them for reuse later.
Once you’ve gotten organized, keep it up! Return items to their proper bins or shelves after every use and encourage your family to do the same.
Visit your local Do it Best store or doitbest.com for thousands of the best home improvement products, including supplies to help keep your pantry organized.
CYNTHIA AND GREGG REED are the owners of Reed’s Hardware in Bluffton. He is a member-owner of Do it Best Corp., a Fort Wayne-based cooperative of thousands of hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards throughout the U.S. and around the world.
(This article is for informational purposes only. Indiana Connection and Do it Best Corp. assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, or for injuries, property damage, or the outcome of any project.)