As messy cooks, we know how frustrating it can be to have a disorganized kitchen. It’s hard to find ingredients and tools when you need them, counters get cluttered, and drawers become jam-packed edifices of chaos. But having an efficient, orderly kitchen doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. With some strategic organizing techniques, even the messiest cook can transform their space into a functional area they’re proud of.

In this article, we’ll share 8 brilliant kitchen organizing ideas to help messy cooks tackle the clutter and create a workflow that actually works for them. From clever storage solutions to tips on grouping like items, these strategies will help you clear the disorder and make your cooking experience so much more enjoyable. Let’s get started!

1. Use Clear Storage Containers

One of the best ways to organize a messy kitchen is by using clear storage containers. They instantly provide visibility of what’s inside so you can easily see all your ingredients, equipment, and other supplies. This prevents forgetting what lurks in the dark abyss of a cupboard and having to rummage through to find what you need.

Some great clear container options include:

  • Plastic storage bins – Great for holding bulk dry goods like flour, sugar, rice, etc. Stackable and available in a range of sizes.
  • Glass canisters – Perfect for storing anything from pasta to coffee beans. Airtight and pantry-worthy.
  • Acrylic drawers – Pull-out drawers are ideal for organizing spices, packets, and other small items in cabinets.
  • Fridge bins – Clear bins let you see leftovers and condiments without needing to search the entire fridge.

Pro tip: Label your clear containers to make identifying contents even easier. Use a label maker, writable stickers, or simply mark with a permanent marker.

2. Group Like Items Together

Another strategy is to group like items together in your kitchen. Having related ingredients, tools, and other supplies stored closely makes tasks like cooking and prep work so much more efficient. No more rummaging to gather everything you need.

Some suggestions on how to group items:

  • Store all baking supplies together – Flour, sugar, baking powder/soda, chocolate chips, etc.
  • Keep all snacks together in one area of the pantry.
  • Have a spice drawer where all herbs and spices live side-by-side.
  • Keep all mixing bowls in one lower cabinet.
  • Store all cutting boards together in a vertical rack.
  • Have a baking sheet drawer with all sizes stacked.
  • Group cooking utensils in a caddy or crock on the counter.

Getting in the habit of returning things to their designated home after using them will ensure items stay neatly organized.

3. Invest in Multi-Tiered Shelving

Limited storage space is often an issue in messy kitchens. That’s where multi-tiered shelving units are a lifesaver, allowing you to expand storage vertically. They are available in many sizes and configurations to work in pantries, cabinets, utility rooms, or on the counter.

Some of the ways multi-tiered shelves can help:

  • Double kitchen storage by stacking two shelves on top of each other in cupboards.
  • Create extra pantry storage with narrow 3-4 tier shelving units.
  • Gain counter space by putting microwave or appliances on a tiered stand.
  • Use wall-mounted multi-tier wire racks for extra spice storage.
  • Add a 3-tiered cart with wheels for portable overflow storage.

When choosing shelving, look for sturdy materials like powder-coated steel. For pantries, closed-back units help contain mess. And for versatility, adjustable shelves are great.

4. Designate Zones for Everything

Creating specific zones or areas for different items is an excellent way to bring order to a messy kitchen. It makes your space more structured so everything has a proper place. Essentially, you’re compartmentalizing storage to be more organized.

Some examples of kitchen zones:

  • Baking zone – Flour, sugar, baking pans all stored together.
  • Spice zone – Spices and seasonings live in specific drawer(s) or wall racks.
  • Snack zone – Designate a shelf or cupboard just for snacks.
  • Dish zone – Plates, bowls, and other dishware stored together.
  • Cleaning zone – All cleaning supplies under the sink or in a utility closet.
  • Coffee/Tea zone – Where all coffee and tea items are stored.

Take time to think about how you use your kitchen and what zones make sense. Label zones clearly for easy identification.

5. Optimize Drawers with Dividers

Messy, cluttered drawers overflowing with utensils and loose items are a common kitchen organizing headache. The solution? Drawer dividers! These nifty inserts compartmentalize drawers to keep contents separated and corralled neatly.

Some great ways to use drawer dividers:

  • Utensil dividers – Keep types of utensils separated – forks, spoons, knives, spatulas, etc.
  • Vertical dividers – Great for organizing cutting boards, baking pans, and trays upright.
  • Small item dividers – Contain spices, packets, batteries and other loose items.
  • Custom configurations – Modular dividers allow custom layouts for specialized items.

Look for durable dividers like bamboo, sturdy plastic or steel. And dividers with anti-slip lining will help keep things in place when closing drawers. Measure drawers carefully to ensure a proper fit.

6. Use Lid Organizers

If you’re guilty of messy, cluttered cabinets full of pots, pans and containers, a lid organizer is a total game changer for tidy storage. Keeping lids and pots together makes for frustration-free cooking.

There are several options:

  • Hanging lid racks – Hang inside cabinet doors to store lids vertically.
  • Counter lid racks – Sit on the counter for easy access to lids.
  • Drawer lid organizers – Keep lids tidy and accessible in a drawer.
  • DIY options – Affordable DIY tutorials using pins, shower curtain rings, etc.

Look for durable lid organizers with anti-slip lining or grips to keep lids in place. And measure the cabinet space or drawer carefully to find the right fit.

7. Label Everything

A simple yet effective way to bring order to a messy kitchen is to label everything! Use labels to clearly identify where items belong to make organizing and putting things away a breeze.

Some great uses for labels:

  • Storage bins – Labeling clear plastic bins makes contents visible.
  • Drawers/cabinets – Label the exterior to know what’s inside at a glance.
  • Shelves – Designate zones like snacks, baking, etc. with shelf labels.
  • Spice jars – No more mystery spices! Label each one.
  • Fridge bins – Mark bins for produce, drinks, leftovers, etc.
  • Pantry – Use labels for categories like canned goods, grains, etc.

Opt for durable, long-lasting labels like printable vinyl, chalkboard or magnetic. Place labels prominently on the front of containers, drawers or shelves for high visibility.

8. Regularly Purge and Donate

An important habit for messy cooks is to regularly purge unused, expired or unwanted kitchen items. Clutter easily accumulates, so decluttering is essential. Choose a frequency like seasonally or every few months.

Steps for successful purging:

  • Take everything out of cupboards, drawers and shelves.
  • Be ruthless and honest about what you actually use.
  • Toss expired food, chipped dishes, etc.
  • Donate unused appliances, cookware and any other items in good condition.
  • Wipe down shelves and drawers and replace only the items you’ll actually use.
  • Establish a purge zone – like a box or bin – for occasional spur-of-the-moment decluttering.

Developing the habit of regular, thoughtful purging helps ensure your organizational systems stay effective. Your kitchen stays functional and clutter-free.


With some dedication and these organizational techniques, messy cooks can transform even the most chaotic kitchen into an efficiency powerhouse. Just take it step-by-step – it doesn’t need to happen overnight. Focus on implementing one or two ideas at a time until the clutter is conquered. Optimize storage, group like items, purge the unused, and develop helpful habits. Before you know it, you’ll have a kitchen that’s clean, neat, and makes cooking an absolute pleasure. So get motivated and start organizing – you’ve got this!

Frequently Asked Questions About Organizing a Messy Kitchen

Kitchen organization can seem daunting for messy cooks. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Where do I start when organizing a messy kitchen?

It’s best to tackle one area at a time, like a drawer or shelf, instead of trying to organize everything at once. Start with high priority spots like clearing the counters or organizing utensils you use daily. Quick wins will build momentum to keep going.

How should I group items when organizing my kitchen?

Group items according to how you use them or by category. For example, group all baking items together and all spices in one area. Store dishware together and pots and pans together. Keeping related items together will maximize efficiency.

What are the best storage containers for a messy kitchen?

Clear plastic bins and storage containers are ideal because you can easily see contents. Labelling is also helpful. For cupboards, install shelves to better utilize vertical storage space. Avoid cramming cabinets so items are accessible.

What are good habits for staying organized as a messy cook?

Always put items back where they belong after using them. Do the dishes and tidy the kitchen each night before bed. Do a quick 5-minute clean of the kitchen after meals. Declutter regularly by donating unused items. And optimize storage with solutions like lid organizers, drawer dividers, etc.

How can I make my small, messy kitchen more organized?

In small kitchens, storage space is limited. Multi-tier shelves, vertical racks, and wall-mounted rails help maximize every inch. Also consider portable storage options like utility carts or shelving units on wheels for additional storage. Keep counters clear by storing lesser used items in low-traffic areas.

What are the benefits of having an organized kitchen?

You’ll be able to find ingredients and tools easily when cooking. It will reduce stress and make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Your kitchen will appear cleaner and tidier. You’ll actually know what’s in your pantry so less food will go to waste. And you’ll have space to add useful new kitchen tools and gadgets.