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Kitchen Drawer Mess

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Culinary Clutter

Kitchens are the heart of the home, and it shows in the amount of stuff that piles up. If you’re dealing with crammed cabinets, overstuffed drawers, and countertops covered in who knows what, it might be time for an old-fashioned purge. Here are several places to start, from the gadgets you never needed in the first place to old-fashioned wastes of money.

Hutzler Banana Slicer
Amazon

Single-Use Kitchen Gadgets

Do you have a banana slicer? How about a tuna press or an egg separator? Chances are you have a drawer full of overly specific gadgets that never see the light of day. If you haven’t used it in months, you can send it on its merry way guilt-free.

Takeout Menus
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pots and pans in a drawer
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Scratched-Up Nonstick Pans

The good news: Despite what you might have heard, a scratched-up nonstick pan is unlikely to seriously harm you with chemicals. But too many scratches and scrapes will definitely make it easier for food to stick and burn, defeating the purpose of buying nonstick in the first place. If you’ve had it five years, it’s probably time to buy new, experts say.

old sponge
RightOne/istockphoto

Old Sponges

Unlike your old pan, old sponges can pose a much more distinct health threat. That’s because they’re a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria like e. coli — so much so that trying to clean them doesn’t help all that much, scientists have found. Instead, experts recommend replacing sponges every week or so.

woman looking through spice cabinet
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Ancient Spices

We all have things in our pantry that are past their prime, but spices are a particularly common culprit. Years-old spices won’t harm you, but they do become much less potent (experts say they’re probably tossable once they no longer smell like much of anything). And let’s face it: If you haven’t used marjoram in five years, you’re probably not going to start anytime soon.

flour and pantry products
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Other Expired Pantry Staples

While you’re examining your spices, check up on other easily overlooked items like flour, canned goods, baking powder, and cooking oil. Yes, unlike the stuff in our fridge, they have long shelf lives, but they don’t last forever, and we’re not constantly checking in on them. If you’re struggling with what expiration dates "really" mean, check out our primer.

Mugs
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vitamins and supplements
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Multivitamins and Supplements

Got a kitchen drawer full of these? You can probably safely toss them, and save a ton of cash in the process if you quit buying them. While there are some exceptions, especially in the case of folic acid for pregnant women, experts have long said vitamins and supplements don’t do much, if anything, for our health. A much better bet, researchers with Johns Hopkins say: Eating a balanced diet with plenty of produce, grains, low-fat dairy, and protein.

plastic grocery bags
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The Plastic Bag Filled With Plastic Bags

Admit it: You have a bag of bags lurking somewhere in your kitchen. Unless they’re getting regular use for pet cleanup or some other task, focus on bulking up your stash of reusable bags instead. They’re better for the environment, and they lie flat for easier storage.

Cookbooks
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Which Plastic Containers Are Safe for Food Storage?
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Excess Plastic Food Storage Containers

We swear these things breed overnight, and if you’re like us, you definitely play favorites. If you’ve got containers that are warped, stained, or missing their lids, throw them out to make room for a sturdier set of replacements, or allow your favorites more breathing room.

Air Fresheners
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Condiment Packets
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All Those Condiment Packets

We know, we know. It’s such a waste to throw away perfectly good ketchup, salt, and soy sauce hoarded from years of takeout. On the other hand, think of all the things you could put in that newly empty drawer. Bonus points if you also let go of those individually packaged plastic utensils.

Bottled Water
Kyryl Gorlov/istockphoto

Bottled Water

It’s one thing to keep a couple of cases of bottled water in the garage for emergencies, but quite another to use it on the regular. A 24-pack takes up an enormous amount of space in the pantry, plus it’s hundreds of times more expensive and environmentally-unfriendly than drinking your perfectly safe tap water. Don’t like the taste of tap? Buy a pitcher with a filter, and you’ll still come out way ahead.

small electric grill
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Small Appliances You Never Use

That cake-pop maker or George Foreman grill may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but if it’s been languishing in the back of a cabinet for too long, say goodbye. In the future, opt for small appliances that can be used for more than one task (think Instant Pot, for instance) to save space.

china dishware
MagMos/istockphoto

Hear us out: That old family china probably isn’t worth anything, it takes up an enormous amount of space, and it’s probably gone unused for years. If you’re sentimental, consider keeping a few pieces to make a beautiful wall of plate art or an upcycled server. Otherwise, have one last party with it and ship it off to the consignment store.

kitchen utensils drawer
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plastic dishware
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dirty cutting boards
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kitchen knives
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Dull Knives

Dull knives are more than ineffective — they’re more dangerous than sharp knives, Lifehacker notes, because they’re much harder to control. If you already own a quality set that simply needs sharpening, hop to it. If you own a cheap set that was dull the day you bought it, consider upgrading. As for your paring knife, Epicurious recommends replacing it every year since it’s especially important to keep sharp.

kitchen clutter drawer
Joe_Potato/istockphoto

Kitchen counters and tables seem to have a magnetic force field that attracts just about everything: Toys, bills, random knick knacks, and just about anything that doesn’t have an official home. One simple hack to try, courtesy of Apartment Therapy: Designate one small basket for items that don’t belong in the kitchen, and empty it nightly so that too much clutter doesn’t accumulate.

Cookware
Kitchen Tools That Last

Half Baked

19. Clear Clutter

Germ Magnets to Clean Now