Less really is more, especially when it comes to practicing minimalism in the kitchen. And while there are hundreds of books and magazines that can steer you towards creating the ideal minimalist kitchen, the truth is that most of us don’t have the time or resources to spend on remodeling or even on purchasing new equipment.
The good news is that practicing minimalism in the kitchen does not require that you spend big bucks. It’s all about getting back to basics and eliminating all the extemporaneous things from your space. You can achieve the clutter free existence and peace of mind that come from minimalism simply by cleaning, re-organizing and rethinking the space and equipment that you already have.
Step #1: Rethink Your Stuff
In order to practice minimalism, you are going to have to rethink everything that you have in your kitchen. That means emptying out your cupboards – all of your cupboards – and deciding whether or not the items are truly worth the effort of keeping them clean and the space of storing them.
As you take each thing out of your cupboard, ask yourself how long it has been since you used it. If it has been longer than a year, out it goes. Feel free to sell it if it is still in good condition. But by no means allow it to clutter up your cupboard or counter space any longer.
Now, before you put anything back onto or into your cupboards, remove it from the kitchen altogether, because before you can truly go minimalist in your kitchen, you will need to clean out and rethink your space and what it is used for.
Step #2: Clean Out Your Space
Before you put even one item back into or onto your cupboards, it’s time to clean your space from floor to ceiling. Grab some vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. While you’re at it, repaint or resurface the counters if you can afford it (you can find both paint and resurfacing materials at most do-it-yourself home goods stores).
Take this opportunity to fill in any nail holes, replace light bulbs and clean out any light fixtures as well. You see, practicing minimalism brings the focus on the basics; the floors, the surfaces, the walls, and you want these to be clean and in good repair and not draw your attention because of the dirt or flaws.
Step #3: Rethink and Reorganize Your Space.
If you are like most of us, you probably weren’t blessed with a professional sized kitchen that enough room to store all of your gadgets and foodstuffs out of sight, leaving your kitchen clutter free. While going through your items will help reduce the clutter, reorganizing your space will reduce that clutter even further.
And while we are on the subject, just because you have always used a particular cupboard to store pots and pans in does not mean that you have to continue to do so. While your cupboard and counter spaces are empty, take a good hard look at every surface and determine what would best fit and how it could best be used.
Designate specific cupboards for specific uses (food storage, pan storage, dishes, electronic items etc.) Then only allow yourself to put as much into that cupboard as can comfortably fit. Do not stack things to the point that they fall out if you open up the cupboard door. If you have too much to fit comfortable, weed out the excess, keeping only as much as you actually need to get the job done.
Putting It All Together
With just three simple steps, you too can find yourself living with a minimalist kitchen where the focus is on the food and its preparation and where your attention is not diverted by dust collectors or prevented by having to work around gadgets and gizmos that you never use anymore. Now sit back and enjoy preparing and eating your food with the peace of mind that only a minimalist, clutter free kitchen can bring you.
Lavender is known as the swiss army knife of essential oils. It can be used for so many different things. This gorgeous regal flower is well known for its abilities to soothe (body and mind), help us find relaxation and calm, support sleep, and provide us with a fantastic flowery aroma. When a child is restless out comes the lavender. When my skin comes into contact with a hot pan in the kitchen, out comes the lavender. I use it for so many things that I carry it in my purse.
Lavender oil has many therapeutic uses but it can also be used for cleaning in the home. Generally when you think about cleaning with essential oils there are some other contenders that usually top the list…melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree), eucalyptus, a Thieves blend, and rosemary. Some of these oils have a strong medicinal scent though and lavender makes a great addition that will give your homemade cleaning products a flowery scent that everyone will enjoy. I grow lavender flowers in my backyard to use around the house for cleaning and I keep lavender oil on hand and at all times for cleaning uses.
Cleaning and Deodorizing Carpets and Mattresses with Lavender Oil
Lavender is antibacterial which makes it a great cleaner and germ fighter it is own right. It also deodorizers with a powerful flowery aroma. It is perfect for cleaning in areas that tend to get stinky. Carpets for instance, tend to harbor stinky bacteria. To deodorize and freshen up carpets and rugs just add 10 drops of lavender oil to a cup of baking soda, mix well and sprinkle on the carpet. Let sit for an hour or more and then vacuum up. Your house and carpet will smell amazing and the lavender oil will continue to fights germs in your carpets. I have also been known to add lavender oil to a small bit of unscented castile soap and then add that mixture to my carpet cleaner.
For mattresses you do the same, sprinkle the baking soda and lavender mixture on your naked mattress. Leave it on for an our and then use the house attachment on your vacuum to clean it up. This makes your mattress smell good, it draws away moisture and dirt, and it helps deter dust mites. The lovely scent might also help you get to sleep faster. Bonus!
Disinfect Surfaces With Lavender Oil
The antibacterial properties of this oil make it just as efficient for surface cleaning. Use it to clean countertops, tables, stoves, and other surfaces. Take two cups of white vinegar and 3 drops of lavender and 2 drops of lemon. Spray surfaces and clean as usual.
You can also make this same cleaner by soaking lavender flowers and lemon peels in vinegar.
Clean Laundry With Lavender
Never buy fabric softener or dryer sheets to make your clothes smell nice. They are loaded with chemical nasties. Try lavender instead! Add a few drops to your washing machine and a few drops to a dry washcloth or dryer ball and place it in the dryer. You can also use dried lavender flowers in a muslin sachet. When the scent starts to die away I add a few drops of lavender oil and keep using it. My clothes smell amazing!
Keep Bugs Away With Lavender Oil
This oil is a great pest repellent. Add lavender oil to a cotton ball or reusable cotton round and place in drawers, cupboards, under beds, in closets, etc. Very helpful if you have moths and other bugs that like to congregate in these places.
Freshen the Air With Lavender Oil
You can make a DIY room spray with lavender oil. Mix an ounce of witch hazel with a couple ounces of distilled water and 10 drops lavender oil. Or try 5 drops lavender and 5 drops lime. Yum! Spray as needed.
An even better way to freshen the air though is with a diffuser. You add water and oils and the diffuser does all the work. You can make your home smell amazing in minutes!
Citrus fruits are actually quite amazing. Not only are they delicious and refreshing to eat they have many other household uses as well. One of their most powerful side uses is their ability to clean your home.
When you have a tough cleaning job you need to do, you may automatically think you need a heavy duty commercial cleaner to get the job done right. Well, not only are those cleaners laden with chemicals that are not healthy for you and your family they are also very harsh and abrasive. Citrus fruits are a cleaning powerhouse that you should consider instead.
The natural ingredients of a citrus fruit can clean just as effectively as harsh, conventional cleaners without the harmful side effects. They are completely biodegradable and safe for use in your home. You never need to worry about your child’s exposure to lemons on a floor you just cleaned. And a big bonus is that they smell great too!
Here are just some of the ways you can use citrus to clean your home:
• Clean your garbage disposal and keep it smelling fresh with citrus. Drop a handful of citrus peels (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit) into your garbage disposal and run it with the cold water turned on. The citric acid will help deodorize your disposal and leave it smelling fresh.
• Use citrus as a degreaser wherever you have greasy build-up such as the stove, the outdoor grill, and the garage. Some major cruise ship lines are even using citrus a degreaser for their engine rooms!
• Make a citrus and vinegar all purpose cleaner. Just fill a jar with citrus peels and cover in white vinegar. Let is brew for four weeks, giving it an occasional shake. After four weeks, strain out the peels, dilute, and use to clean stovetops, bathroom surfaces, mirrors, and floors. You can even throw some in the laundry to give your whites a boost.
• Toss some orange or lemon peels in your wood burning fireplace to give the room a nice, fresh smell.
• Remove stains from enamel pots by filling ¾ full of water, adding a handful of citrus peels and boiling for 15 minutes.
• Put a used lemon half in your dishwasher to cut grease on your dishes.
• Use half a lemon to rub stainless steel draining boards and taps. Leave on for a few minutes and then rinse and shine.
• Mix some olive oil and lemon juice together and put in a spray bottle. Use the mixture to clean hard wood furniture, rubbing and then drying with a cloth rag.
• Use lemon juice to clean and shine brass and copper.
• Squeeze a little lemon juice on stained clothing or cloth diapers and set out in the sun to bleach away the stain.
• Mix lemon or lime juice with baking soda and vinegar to create a paste that will cut through soap scum and dissolve grime in bathtubs and sinks.
• Use Lemon essential oil and Purification essential oil blend in a diffuser. This clears away any bad smells and makes your house smell incredible! As an added bonus it helps kill off germs. Both of these oils can be obtained from Young Living.
When life throws a mess your way, break out the lemons!
I actually hate carpet. It is a breeding ground for all kinds of nasty stuff…dirt, dust, mold, allergens, etc. We live in a rental though so we are kind of stuck with what we have. To help keep our home clean and healthy we have some rules about carpet care such as removing shoes when we enter the home, vacuuming often, and reporting or cleaning up spills immediately. We also clean the carpet thoroughly every couple of months. We use a carpet cleaner that you can buy at any home improvement or big box store and we make the cleaning soap ourselves so that we can avoid toxic chemicals.
Here are two easy to make carpet cleaner recipes that are natural and safe for the family…
Natural Carpet Cleaner Recipe
6 qts HOT HOT water
4 teaspoons Dr. Bronner’s castille soap
25-30 drops of essential oil (peppermint, lavender, or tea tree)
30-50 drops GSE (grapefruit seed extract)
1-2 scoops Oxyclean (optional)
This will clean carpets and make them smell wonderful too!
SoapNuts Carpet Cleaner
Simmer a cup of soap nuts in about 4 cups of water, mash the nuts by hand to release the saponins. Drain the liquid using a cheese cloth and pour the liquid concentrate into a glass mason jar. Put a few tablespoons inside your carpet cleaner and voila!
This is the time of year when you will begin to be bombarded with magazine articles and blog posts about spring cleaning. I certainly understand the idea and full support it because after those long winter months cooped up in the house I am more than ready to start fresh and clear the cobwebs. Spring is my favorite season and I am so energized by it that even cleaning is bearable…and seriously, by then I really do have lots of cobwebs to clean.
There is a step that comes before spring cleaning though, at least for me. I call it winter nesting. It begins in early to mid February. The thrill of the holidays is well past gone and the long, dark days are starting to get to me. I am ready for spring but it is still a long way off, or so it seems. I have to get ready for spring gardening and indoor planting. The urge to start cleaning is strong also but logistically I need to declutter and purge first. How can I clean the kitchen when the pantry, the drawers, and the counter tops have all become collection grounds for all manner of items? How can I clean the cobwebs out of the cupboards when things are falling out on me? Yes, this is when the urge to purge comes in.
Before I even think about scrubbing my baseboards with a toothbrush I need to think about how to get rid of the clutter. This year in particular it has bothered me more than usual and I have been asking myself lots of tough questions. Do I REALLY need this? Have I used it or wore it within the past year? Does it enhance my life in some way or just sit there unused and unappreciated? My children have to answer these questions as well. What clothes do not fit me anymore? Can they be passed down to a sibling? Since I haven’t used it in over six months should I sell my 3ds? Kids tend to have a lot of clutter and it is good to teach them to let that go.
Here are some ways to declutter before you get to the deep cleaning…
Wardrobe – Evaluate what you REALLY wear. If you are anything like me you tend to wear the same stuff over and over again, washing it as needed. If you have some good quality basic items then you don’t actually need a whole lot of clothing and you can still look stylish. The No Brainer Wardrobe ebook is a quick read that teaches you how to do this. I highly recommend it. If you haven’t worn something in a long while or you consistently look at some items and then choose something you like “better” then let them go. This goes for clothing you bought in smaller sizes too, hoping that you would lose weight and they would fit someday. Don’t give up on your fitness goals but don’t hang on to clothing you cannot wear either.
Papers – It is tax time so when you are going through papers, receipts, and documents to get them ready for your taxes go a step further and purge the stuff you don’t need. You probably don’t need utility bills from three years ago or user manuals for products that have long been broken or donated. Go through your filing cabinets and desk drawers and do a major purge. Scan some of your receipts and other documents that you need to keep so that you can store them digitally from now on and let go of the physical clutter.
Electronics – We tend to hold on to pricier household items even if we don’t use them anymore. Yet if we use our iPhones and a sounddock to listen to music then we don’t actually need that stereo anymore. If you find it easier to use your phone as an alarm clock then the actual alarm clock can go. Find a place where you can resell these items and earn a small profit. Try places such as ebay and Craigslist. You might be able to earn enough to pay for a professional cleaner to help you with that deep cleaning come spring.
Pantry/Kitchen – Once again it is all about how much you used the items you choose to store in the kitchen. Don’t use the dehydrator or yogurt maker? Let them go. I just let go of my dehydrator and my back up crock pot because they were just dust collectors. I never used them. Go through all your pots, pans, and baking items and see if it makes sense to keep them. Do you need two stock pots? Do you need three muffin tins? Do you actually use all of the spatulas, tongs sets, ladles, and serving spoons you have? It is easy to think that “someday” you may need them but think about it. That is what you say EVERY YEAR and yet another year has passed and you didn’t use them. What does that tell you?
Books – I KNOW how hard it is to get rid of books. You always imagine that you will read them again or need to use them for reference but years pass and they never get read again and you didn’t even touch them. With excellent public libraries at our disposal though there is no reason to hang on to fiction books for years and years that you think you might someday read again. If you truly do want to read it again, you can borrow it. If it is a recipe book go through and see how many recipes you actually cook. If you actually cook 3/4 of the meals found inside it, then keep it. If you only use 2-3 recipes then copy them down (or scan them to your computer) and let the actual book go to a new home. Amazon is is excellent place to sell used books. I sell there frequently.
What tips do you have for decluttering your home? I would love to hear.