When I was a kid, I knew that certain things were under the kitchen sink. Under there we had a garbage can, Windex, a multi-purpose cleaning solution, and a whole bunch of bottles that I didn’t completely comprehend.
As I grew older, I realized that not only did I not comprehend everything that was under there, but my parents didn’t either. There were bottles that had been tossed under there and pretty much abandoned.
And as I got older still and got my own apartment, my own stuff, and my own messes, I came to realize that the cupboards under sinks really do seem to act as magnets for useless stuff!
How do we get it back under control?
Pull everything out.
Since “under the sink” is a pretty small place, it should be easy enough to pull everything out and take a look at them. Take everything that’s under there now, and set it on the counter, the floor, or whatever open space you have. If you’re so boxed in with clutter that you don’t have any space, you can sit on the floor and pull things out one by one.
Take a look at what all is there. Garbage can? Cleaning chemicals? Dish soap? Scrub brushes? Cleaning totes? Get an idea of what you have.
I’ve gone to clean under the kitchen sink and found dishes that I didn’t remember I had. No joke.
Determine the “big rocks”
This is the “desert island” question. If you could only put one thing in this space, what would that be? Okay, now what about if you could have two things? Three? Four? What are the most critical things to have in this space?
In my parents’ house, our “big rocks” were the kitchen garbage can and a handful of cleaning chemicals. Other peoples’ houses will be different. I’ve lived in places where the garbage can wouldn’t fit, so we just put cleaning chemicals down there. For people with limited counter space, this can be a good place to tuck away a fold-up dish drainer.
The idea here is that these are the things that are non-negotiable. Even though we’re calling them “big rocks”, they don’t have to be big – just important. And you’ll still want to go through the assessment below for each of these items.
Determine the “little rocks”
Now it’s time to go through everything, one-by-one. Take each item, hold it in your hand, and assess it.
Is this still useful to me?
If you bought a bottle of cleaner a year ago, used it once, and have never touched it since because you didn’t like how it worked, it’s not useful to you. Get rid of it!
Is this still in working order?
Test out each item to the best of your ability. Do aerosols cans actually work? Are sponge-based chemicals (shoe polish comes to mind) too dried out to be useful? Do spray bottles actually spray? Is your mop bucket structurally intact? If not, throw them out!
Oh, and if it’s something that you know you use but it’s broken? Throw it out anyway, but add it to a shopping list to replace.
Does this belong under the sink?
It might sound strange for this to be the last question, but I have memories of keeping a lot of things solely because I felt I should have them – and that’s a huge cause of clutter! Only after the item is known to be useful and in working order do we determine where it goes.
Some things make sense to store under the sink. Kitchen cleaning chemicals, kitchen garbage cans, SOS pads, dishwashing sponges/pads, mop buckets, etc. all get used in the kitchen – so storing them there makes sense. My parents stored other aerosol chemicals under there (bug killer, for example) as well.
There aren’t any right or wrong answers here – only answers that make sense for you. But that’s really the key – the answers must make sense for you!
Put it back, or put it where it goes.
If it doesn’t go under the sink, move it to wherever in the house it belongs. If it does go under the sink, put it back.
This is a good decluttering “pick me up”!
This whole process will probably take you less than an hour, and it’s a great place to start your decluttering process since most people don’t have sentimental attachments to the things under their kitchen sinks.
Give it a shot, and see if it doesn’t give you a bit of forward momentum!