Cleaning and Organizing Tips:
1. Prepare a schedule - most of us lead very busy lives outside of the home and after a long day the last thing we want to do is household chores. While you're planning your activities for the week, set aside a designated time--even if it's just 15-30 minutes for cleaning or organizing parts of your kitchen.
2. Start off small - Map out the tasks that need to be done. One week you could schedule a few cleaning chores (clean out the fridge or freezer, wash the windows, wipe down walls--especially near the stove, etc.). The next week you could schedule a little organizing (clean and organize the cutlery drawers, cabinets, pantry, fridge, etc.).
As you're cleaning and organizing, set up boxes or bins in a nearby space where you can put unwanted items as you go along. When you come across general items and food items that are broken, out of date, etc., throw them away or put the salvageable, non-food items in the box. Once you've gotten rid of the unwanted items that are still in good condition, you could arrange to have the Salvation Army or other charitable organization come and pick them up. It's free and you could get a tax deduction out of it! Or, you could turn your trash into treasures by scheduling a yard sale to sell your items.
3. Enlist help - if you live with your family, enlist the help of your partner and/or children to help you get the job done. Explain to them that keeping the area clean and tidy is everyone's responsibility. Once you get them involved and they have helped clean or organize the space, they will take more pride and interest in helping to keep it that way.
Give them small tasks that fit their skill sets. For example, your husband may be good with home improvement projects, etc. Ask him to help with any necessary small repairs (loose cabinet drawers, clogged drain, etc.) or ask him to help you to organize spaces that you can't reach--the tops cabinets, crawl spaces, etc. As reluctant as some men are to do anything in the kitchen, they will usually respond to "men's work" or an opportunity to be chivalrous--as long as you ask them in advance and not spring it on them on the spur of the moment. After all, men love to be needed. :>)
With children, you may have to be more creative. You could create a "family cleaning party" event. Have them help you pop some popcorn and put in a huge bowl on the counter. Get a bell or whistle and after they've been at a task for about ten minutes or so, ring the bell and announce "snack time." After they have a hand full of popcorn, ring the bell again an announce it's time to get back to work. There are many ways you can get the kids involved. Use your imagination and keep it fun and they'll look for opportunities to have a family cleaning event.
Don't have a partner or husband to help with the chores and your time is limited? Consider calling a cleaning or errand service to help. They will be thrilled to take some of those chores off your hands--for a small fee, of course. If you cannot afford to pay for help, call in your friends for reinforcement. Organize a cleaning party. Don't be shy--you live in your home and it won't always be picture perfect. Your real friends will understand and be happy to help. Make a pan of brownies, pop open a bottle of red or white wine and call in the girlfriends (or guy friends). Put on your favorite music CD or play an audio book and get the cleaning/organizing party started.
Cleaning & organizing the refrigerator - most refrigerators have several drawers and compartments for storage. Put the items you use the most on the top and second shelves. Make sure the super perishables--milk, cream, eggs, etc. are stored in this area. Store your veggies, fruits, lunch meats, cheeses, etc. in the bottom storage drawers. Store condiments, butter, water, soft drinks etc, on the shelves of the door. Store your leftovers in stackable containers and use good quality zip lock storage bags to help protect your investments and to conserve space. As spills occur, take a few seconds to wipe it up immediately to save yourself time and anguish later on. Keep an eye on cooked foods and other perishables--pay attention to expiration dates and try not to eat prepared foods after four days to reduce the risk of illnesses due to food poisoning.
Cleaning & organizing the cabinets - give careful thought to how you use your kitchen and it's layout. If you have cabinets near or over the stove, consider putting your herbs, spices, non-perishable condiments and canned/packaged foods in those. You want to have these items in close proximity to the stove to be able to grab them quickly while cooking or assembling ingredients for a recipe. Store your dishes/glasses, etc. in cabinets closer to the table or dining room area for obvious reasons and store your flatware in drawers in strategic areas: cooking utensils near the stove and serving/eating utensils near the dishes. The bottom cabinets should be reserved for larger items--pots/pans, serving bowl/platters, etc.
You can apply the same method of cleaning and organizing the pantry--make sure the items you use regulary are up front within easy reach, toss outdated items and clean any food spills as they occur.
More kitchen organization tips General home organizing Meal planning tips
How long to keep fresh foods in the fridge Food poisoning from leftover foods
Eco-friendly ways to clean Eco-friendly cleaning products & supplies
Clutter and depression Feng shui and organizing for your home & lifestyle
Home cleaning services by state Concierge directory by state