No matter whether you have a dedicated pantry or just a couple of shelves in a cabinet for food storage, keeping it clean and organized is important. With an organized pantry, you can help protect your food from insect infestation, save money by using products before they expire, and access ingredients quickly during meal preparation.
Cleaning a pantry takes a bit of time but you can do it with just four easy steps. Set aside an hour or so and you’ll be amazed at how good your pantry can look and function.
How Often to Clean Out Your Pantry
Ideally, you should clean your pantry at least four times a year as the seasons change. However, twice a year is a good start.
Spills of wet or dry items should be cleaned up immediately. If you see insect infestation, the pantry should be cleaned right away to prevent further spread to the rest of your kitchen or home.
Take everything out of the pantry. If you don’t have counter space close by, bring over a table or place some cardboard boxes on the floor to hold everything.
Get a head start on the sorting step by placing similar items together as you unload the pantry.
Clean the Pantry Storage Space
Use a vacuum with a hose and brush or a handheld vacuum to suction away crumbs and cobwebs.
Mix some warm water and a tablespoon of an all-purpose cleaner in a small bucket or bowl. Dip a microfiber cloth in the solution and wring until it is not dripping. Starting at the top of the pantry, wipe down each shelf and the walls. Don’t forget the floor!
If you see or suspect mold or mildew, clean the area with a disinfectant solution (follow the label instructions) or use disinfecting wipes.
Allow the area to air-dry while you sort the food that should be returned to the shelves.
Sort the Items in the Pantry
Remove any items that belong in other places and put them in their proper spot. It’s not a good idea to store cleaning supplies alongside food products.
Gather cardboard boxes or shopping bags and trash bags before you begin sorting. Designate one area as “Keep”, one as “Donate”, and one as “Trash”.
Check the expiration date on each product and then decide where it should go. Toss items that are expired, any food that shows insect infestation, leaking or bulging cans, and open foods that are stale. Donate foods that your family doesn’t like or items that you’ve over-bought to a local food pantry. Keep the rest.