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Tips to Tackle Cleaning and Organising Overflowing Storage Cupboards


The other day I showed you the disgrace that was my under sink cupboard and how I went about cleaning it up. You can read about this here. Embarassing as that was, there is another place in my house that had grown worse – my hall cupboard.

It had become so bad, so stuffed with junk, that the sliding door came off its runner the other day when I was trying to shut it.

So this past week I spent two days – yes, two days – cleaning the hall cupboard. I probably could have done it in less time but I would not have got things as clean or as organised as I had wanted them to be. I planned to never let this cupboard get in this state again!

This is what it looked like before I began the clean-up.

As a linen/storage cupboard it housed the overflow from all areas of the house. In particular it stored all my decorations, crockery and servingware for parties and most of my craft supplies. It also stored my gift collection – but more on that later.

So how to you tackle a huge task like this? Here is how I did it.

Step 1

Before I started I pulled out three laundry baskets to help sort the cupboard’s contents. One for items to relocate, one for items to dump and one for items to donate.

Step 2

I started at the top and worked my way down, sorting the goods into the baskets. Anything I found that was to remain in the cupboard I laid out on the floor in groups of related items.

I was ruthless. Anything that I had not used for sometime I got rid of. I quickly realised what a bottomless pit the cupboard had become and just how bad my baby brain wash in my last pregnancy. I found no less than ten presents I had purchased throughout last year in an effort to be organised for birthdays and surprise events but had forgotten about. I also found the supplies for numerous projects I had given up on because of lack of time or motivation.

By the time I got to the end of this step I was thinking, “What have I done?” My hallway looked like something out the TV show ‘Hoarders’. I didn’t photograph this because I was just too embarassed. My son stumbled and was lost under a pile of doonas as he traversed the small path that weaved between the mountains of items. I was lucky I heard his calls for help. However, once I had thrown the rubbish in the bin, placed the items to donate in the charity box and rehomed items no longer needed in the cupboard, the task of restocking the cupboard neatly didn’t seem so onerous.

Step 3

I gave all the cupboards a good clean out with warm soapy water.

Step 4

I looked through the items to return to the cupboard and determined their best placement and came up with storage solutions that would benefit the space and the item’s use.

I made sure I had room to place commonly used items on easily accessible shelves. With heavier items like my platters I made sure there was room to space them out so that no stack became too heavy to lift. In the future, should my collection of serving ware grow, I can add a shelf rise like this to give me additional storage space without making items hard to access.

A shelf rise like this may be an option in the future to add more space

I saw I had enough space to devote a whole shelf to my craft items. I decided it best to sort and store all my craft items in small boxes so they were easy to find and move when needed. I had already stored some craft items in 10 litre starmaid boxes and had found them stackable, durable and perfectly sized for my shelf height. I purchased additional ones after carefully assessing just how many i would need. I made nice, large labels for these to make them easy to find.

I had been storing important documents and keepsakes in three small boxes at the cupboard’s base but they were overflowing. I was able to transfer these into much larger cardboard boxes that had housed party decorations I relocated to storage kept in the garage.

I didn’t really want to spend money on a storage or sorting system for all the presents I had. By stacking them as compactly as possible at the top of the cupboard, I ensured they would never again be forgotten by creating an inventory sheet. To make it durable and to allow presents to be deleted when gifted, or added when bought, I laminated a piece of coloured paper to act like a whiteboard. I attached a marker pen to this sheet and secured this to the inside of the cupboard.

DIY whiteboard to inventory my gift stash

The cupboard had also come to store my cooking books and literally hundreds of recipes torn from magazines over the years. Organising these alone would require an effort greater than cleaning the cupboard. Realising I needed to research a system to organise these, I decided I would corral all the loose cuttings in magazine holders until another time. This took up more space than I would have liked in my cleaned cupboard but I had to put up with that.


Step 5

I replaced all the items neatly in the cupboard being conscious of making everything accessible and visible.

Here is the final results:

I know I will have to make a concerted effort to maintain the organisation and neatness of the cupboard. By spending a few more seconds folding and stacking the towels I can ensure they no longer bulge from their shelf and by returning craft items to their box they will be easier to find.

Completing this much needed task has been really worthwhile. Despite the fact it has thrown a few extra jobs my way, like filing my recipe collection, the house feels less cluttered.

If you have any recipe filing ideas I would love to hear from you……Have a great week.