10 Steps for Cleaning Out Your Pantry


Your pantry should be cleaned out every six months. It gives you a chance to eliminate anything that is expired. It will also force you to use what you have, so the inventory doesn’t get stagnant.

Follow these 10 Steps for an Organized Pantry.

1. Have the trash can handy and begin emptying the shelves onto the kitchen counter.

2. Check expiration dates and toss anything with an old date. Also eliminate anything that is open and been around for a while, like boxes of crackers.

3. Make a list of what you toss so you can replace it.

4. If you have a lot of the same products, fill a bag with the extra to take to your local food bank.

5. It’s time to make it shine! Vacuum, then wipe down the inside of the pantry cabinet. Let it dry.

6. Contain all loose items, like instant oatmeal packets or spice mixes into small bins or boxes. This will keep them from getting lost.

7. Sort items into “like”groups; soups, pasta, cereal, etc.

8. It’s time to reload. Focus on making things accessible and easy to find, with like-items together.

9. Consider placing light items on the top shelves; paper towels, cereal, etc. to guard against falling accidents. Place kid-friendly items on a lower shelf, so they can help themselves.

10. Don’t forget to use the back of the door. There are all kind of storage options that will store spice jars or can goods on the door for extra storage.

Your pantry should be cleaned out every six months. It gives you a chance to eliminate anything that is expired. It will also force you to use what you have, so the inventory doesn't get stagnant. Click To Tweet

After that, stand back and enjoy your efforts. A clean and organized pantry!

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Seana Turner on July 15, 2019 at 8:23 am

    This is such a rewarding project, especially when it smells all nice and clean. I follow these same steps. I would also remind people that it might be possible to adjust the shelving or add shelving to make it function better. Many times an installer just makes shelves even, but that doesn’t mean we need to keep them that way. If you are a “giant boxes of cereal” kind of family, you might need a tall shelf!

    • Janet Schiesl on July 15, 2019 at 3:56 pm

      Hi Seana. We’ll move shelves for clients if it’s possible, but it make the project last a lot longer. I often tilt big boxes like cereal on their side to fit into a space.

  2. Sabrina Quairoli on July 15, 2019 at 9:38 am

    I do find that making a creative pantry dinner meal will use up several different cans of the pantry stuff.

    • Janet Schiesl on July 15, 2019 at 3:59 pm

      Sabrina, I also “shop” my pantry every once in awhile to get rid of things that have been hanging around. There are many websites (like Pinterest – my present favorite) that you can search with a couple of ingredients and find a recipe that includes those things. It’s a great way to try something new.

  3. Janet Barclay on August 8, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    We tend to only buy what we need each week, so we rarely have food that hangs around, but the downside of that is that we’re never compelled to go through this exercise! However, I’ve recently thought of a way to improve the way my kitchen cabinets are organized, so going through this exercise at the same time would be truly beneficial.

    • Janet Schiesl on August 8, 2019 at 6:33 pm

      Now that I am a empty-nester my pantry isn’t nearly as full as it used to be. But I just recently cleaned out my spice cabinet, because some of those jars seem to hang around way too long.

  4. Lisa Humes on August 4, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    A refresh on the pantry does feel good as well. It’s nice to see everything again!

    • Janet Schiesl on August 4, 2020 at 5:15 pm

      Thanks Lisa. I love to organize small space. It’s so rewarding.

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