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Kitchen Hacks: 31 Clever Ways To Organize And Clean Your Kitchen

Kitchen Hacks: 31 Clever Ways To Organize And Clean Your Kitchen

For many families, entertaining and eating is done right in the kitchen, which means that not only do you want a clean kitchen for cooking, but you’ll also want space for having company over. For those that have small kitchens, having the space necessary means making use of every nook and cranny. Of course you could remodel your kitchen, but that wouldn’t be very Lifehack-like.

These simple kitchen hacks will help you maximize your storage space, allowing you to keep your kitchen organized… but that’s not all! I’m going to be throwing in some handy kitchen hacks that make cleaning super simple and quick! When it comes to cleaning around the house, the kitchen should be your priority. Why? Because it’s where the FOOD is! And who wants the place where they store and eat their food to be disgusting?

Check out the following 30 ways to organize and clean your kitchen!

1. Carve Out A Spice Niche

Cabinet Spice Rack

    Image Credit: Frank Farm
    Spices and herbs play a big role for many people when it comes to cooking and these petite packages can take up a lot of storage space. Utilizing a spice rack that’s mounted onto the inside of a cabinet door allows you to keep your spices organized and make use of an unused space, leaving you the option to utilize your cabinets for store something else, like your pots and pans. Don’t feel like paying a lot for a spice rack or don’t want to drill holes into your cabinets? Check out this DIY tutorial.

    2. Use Magnets

    Use Magnets to Organize Kitchen

      Are you using your cabinet doors for some other clever way to give yourself additional storage? If so, you can still organize your spices in a clever way by making use of magnets. You can also use magnets for storing knives so that you don’t have to use a knife block… just make sure you use a strong enough magnet so that your kitchen doesn’t rain knives.

      3. Make Freezer Shelves With Magazine Holders

      Magazine Rack Converted Into Freezer Shelves

        Take some magazine holders and turn them on their sides for some great shelves that can be used to organize and protect flat-ish items.

        4. Over The Sink Cutting Board

        Farmhouse Cutting Board

          Preserve precious counter space with an over the sink cutting board which are just really just long cutting boards that are meant to fit over your sink. Not only do you save on either counter or cabinet space, but with these boards you can prevent vegetable and fruit peels or juices as well as other food bits that you’re slicing, chopping and dicing from making a disaster on your kitchen counter or floor. Saves a lot of clean up with food prep! As an added bonus you can also use it to hide dirty dishes when an unexpected guest comes over. If you’re a DIY type of person, check out this the following from Chris Jones at Before & After Brookside which offers a look at how he made a custom farmhouse sink cutting board.

          5. Labeling System

          Labeling system for your pantry items

            Labels are a great way to help you organize your kitchen. You can even put the labels on the tops of jars so that when you store them in a drawer you can take the guesswork out of which container you want. Head over to WorldLabel if you want to use the labels from the above photo (created by Emily McDowell).

            6. Add More Storage By Hacking “Unopenable” Drawers

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            Turn fake drawer into real space

              Cabinet and drawer space can come at a premium, especially when working with a small kitchen, but fear not! When you’ve run out of room in your available cabinets and drawers, just create some more. Thankfully, this DIY tutorial can help you make use of those un-openable drawers that are beneath your sink. Additionally, you can build toe-kick drawers under your base cabinets with this tutorial.

              7. Hang Pots And Pans From The Ceiling

              Give yourself more storage with a pot and pan rack

                Give yourself more cabinet space by hanging pots, pans, and even cooking utensils from the ceiling. As a bonus, get yourself an attractive overhead rack and if you have a decent set of cookware, you’ll end up with a funky, stylish decoration for the kitchen.

                8. Store Lids With A Curtain Rod

                Store Pots and Pans Lids

                  A very simple solution that helps you organize your pot lids from Instructables.

                  9. Create A Dedicated Kitchen Tablet

                  How to mount your iPad

                    Do you have an old tablet that you rarely use? If so, why not turn it into a dedicated kitchen tablet so that you can get rid of paper clutter like the calendar on the fridge, the cookbooks in the cabinets, and the recipes that are scattered all along the countertops. Digitizing the paper clutter is a great way to save some kitchen space.

                    10. Roll Out Pantry

                    Roll Out Pantry

                      If you have some unused space between your refrigerator and the wall, you might want to make use of it with a roll-out pantry to store canned and boxed goods vertically. Build your own with these instructions from Instructables.

                      11. Add A Kitchen Island

                      Kitchen Island Organize

                        A kitchen island can bring some added functionality and organization to your kitchen as it can serve as both a place to eat as well as an extra storage space.

                        12. Use Drawer Inserts

                        Kitchen Inserts

                          One of the problems with keeping a kitchen drawer organized is the ineffective use of space. Too many times people just throw all the kitchen utensils and tools in haphazardly. Use drawer inserts to make it easy to sort utensils, cooking tools and more, allowing each to be more accessible.

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                          13. How To Organize Your Fridge

                          Reorganize Your Fridge

                            Keep your refrigerator organized and clean to prevent fresh food from spoiling too quickly.

                            14. Use A Tension Rod To Hang Cleaning Products

                            Organize Cleaning Products

                              A tension rod can be a great way for storing and organizing spray bottles so that you have additional space in an otherwise cramped under-sink cabinet.

                              15. Use A Collapsible Wine Rack For Storing Bottles

                              Modular Wine Rack

                                Place a collapsible wine rack on the lower shelf of your refrigerator to keep bottles (wine, soda, water, etc.) on their sides. The one in the photo is modular so that you can add as needed.

                                16. Hanging Fridge Storage

                                Hanging Fridge Storage

                                  Using below-shelf hanging organizers in your fridge to keep small food items from getting lost in the shuffle.

                                  17. Storing Garlic, Shallots and Onions

                                  bamboo-storage-onions-garlic-shallots

                                    If you have a bamboo steamer basket, use it to store garlic, onions and shallots. Due to bamboo steamers being well-ventilated, they’re the perfect environment for storing onions, garlic, and shallots which will leave your fridge with some room for other veggies.

                                    18. How To Keep Your Sponge Dry and Mildew Free

                                    Sponge Binder

                                      Once you’ve cleaned your dirty counter, sink and stains on the floor, it might be tempting to just run your sponge under some water and set it at the edge of your sink. Doing so, however, sets the stage for mold and mildew to build up. Thankfully,you can keep your sponge from becoming gross and unusable with a simple clip. Just place the sponge upright which will prevent it from sitting in water as well as help it air dry fast.

                                      19. Clean Your Blender Quickly

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                                      Blender

                                        After making a smoothie or using your blender to chop up the garlic, you can quickly clean it by pouring in warm water and a tiny bit of dish soap. Top the blender with the lid and turn it on and now it’s all clean! Just make sure to give it a quick rinse after to get rid of the soap residue.

                                        20. Rid Your Kitchen Of Foul Odors (At Least For A Day)

                                        Get rid of foul odors with essential oils

                                          If you find that your kitchen smells a bit funky or you just want to conjure memories of mom’s chocolate chip cookies, you can easily do so with some vanilla extract. Put two caps full into an oven proof dish and then place it in your oven for an hour at 300 degrees. The smell will encompass your kitchen as well as other parts of your home for about a day. You can also feel free to experiment with other essentials oils like lemon if you’d prefer.

                                          21. Prevent Clogs From Forming

                                          Prevent Kitchen Clogs

                                            To prevent clogs from forming in your kitchen sink, make sure to periodically pour boiling water down the drain. Doing so ensures that the oils in food products run down the drain as opposed to building up on the interior surface of pipes which is what leads to clogged drains. If you have baking soda on hand, you may want to consider pouring some down the drain prior to using the boiling water as baking soda is a great cleaning agent and can help to absorb any odors.

                                            22. Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances With Glass Cleaner

                                            Wiping Clean Dishwasher with Microfiber rag

                                              Glass cleaner will give your stainless steel sink and appliances the same streak-free shine that it does for glass and mirrors. Using a glass cleaner will also help to remove any fingerprints. Just spray a few times on a microfiber cloth and make like the karate kid by ‘waxing on, waxing off’. Rinse thoroughly and dry your towel.

                                              23. Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances With Flour

                                              Flour Stainless Steel

                                                Don’t want to use a glass cleaner due to chemicals? Mother Nature Network has come up with a simple solution for you. Just apply some dry flour onto a microfiber cloth and buff it into your stainless steel appliance, sink or counter. Then rinse it off and the surface should shine like new.

                                                24. Clean Your Silverware And Knives With Rust Spots Using Lemon Juice

                                                Clean Knives Lemon Juice

                                                  Eventually, stainless steel silverware and cooking knives can begin to get spotty with rust, especially if you use the dishwasher to clean them. Just take your rusted silverware or cooking knives and soak them in a glass of lemon juice for a couple of minutes. The rust will loosen up, making it easy to scrub away… just make sure to hand dry it afterwards!

                                                  25. Clean Your Oven With Baking Soda

                                                  Clean Kitchen With Baking Soda

                                                    With some baking soda, water and a touch of elbow grease, you can easily clean your oven. Get the how-to from The Kitchn.

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                                                    26. Clean Your Wooden Cutting Boards With Lemon And Salt

                                                    Clean Cutting Board Lemon Juice Salt

                                                      You may think your wooden cutting board is clean but even if you wipe it down after use or give it a quick rinse, it can still get grimy on the surface. To freshen up your cutting board, sprinkle some coarse salt and then use half a lemon (cut side down) to scrub the board. Make sure to squeeze some lemon juice as you go and then let it sit for 5 minutes. Scrape the dirty liquid off and then rinse with some water.

                                                      27. Clean Your Microwave

                                                      Microwaving A Sponge

                                                        Image Credit: Erik Mallinson

                                                        It seems way too easy to get microwaved food to explode which leads to messes that eventually need to be cleaned. Make it easy by putting a wet sponge inside your microwave and then spraying the inside with a mixture of water and essential oils. Microwave the sponge for two minutes, let it cool, and then use it to wipe up the leftover mess.

                                                        28. Clean Your Cast Iron Pots

                                                        You shouldn’t use soap on cast iron to clean it – instead just add some coarse salt and sprinkle into the bottom of the pan. Take some paper towels and rub into the pan. Gently heat over low heat to get rid of any extra moisture so that you can prevent rusting.

                                                        29. Clean Your Garbage Disposal With Lemon And Vinegar

                                                        lemon-disposal-clean1

                                                          Tons of gunk goes through your garbage disposal so it’s a pretty good idea to keep it clean which can easily be done with some lemons and vinegar. Just slice the lemons into small pieces and then freeze the slices in vinegar. Run the lemon-vinegar cubes through your disposal every few days to keep it fresh.

                                                          30. Freshen Your Dishwasher

                                                          Vinegar Cleans Dishwasher

                                                            It’s probably never occurred that your dishwasher needs to be cleaned since it’s constantly cleaning itself and the dishes every time you run it, but every so often it’s a good idea to freshen it up. Just run a cycle with vinegar and then do another for rinsing!

                                                            31. Freshen Your Garbage Can

                                                            Baking Soda

                                                              Hose down your garbage can, dry it, and then sprinkle a few tablespoons of baking soda on the bottom to keep it stink free.

                                                              Have a hack that you use to organize and clean your kitchen that hasn’t been mentioned in this list? Please share with everyone else by leaving a comment!

                                                              Featured photo credit: Megan Myers via flickr.com

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                                                              Last Updated on August 20, 2019

                                                              How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                                              How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                                              Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                                                              Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

                                                              I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                                                              You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                                              Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                                                              When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                                              I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                                              Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                                              Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                                              Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                                                              1. The Inner Critic

                                                              This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

                                                              • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                                                              • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                                                              • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                                                              • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                                              The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                                                              Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                                              2. The Worrier

                                                              This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                                                              The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

                                                              3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                                                              This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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                                                              This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                                              The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                                                              4. The Sleep Depriver

                                                              This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                                              The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

                                                              • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                                              • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                                              • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                                                              • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                                              How can you control these squatters?

                                                              How to Master Your Mind

                                                              You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                                              Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                                              There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                                              • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                                              • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                                              This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                                                              The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                                                              Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                                              For the Inner Critic

                                                              When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                                                              You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                                              For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

                                                              You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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                                                              “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                                              If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                                              • They rile up the Worrier.
                                                              • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                                              • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                                              • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                                              • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

                                                              Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                                              Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                                              For the Worrier

                                                              Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                                              Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                                                              You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                                              • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                                              • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                              • Muscles tense

                                                              Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                                              If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                                              Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                                              “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                                              Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                                                              If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                                                              Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

                                                              Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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                                                              For example:

                                                              If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                                              “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                                              Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                                              “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                                              Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                                              For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                                              Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                                              The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                                                              • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                                                              • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                              • Muscles tension

                                                              I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                                              Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                                              Breathe in through your nose:

                                                              • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                                              • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                                              • Focus on your belly rising.

                                                              Breathe out through your nose:

                                                              • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                                              • Focus on your belly falling.
                                                              • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                                              Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                                                              Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

                                                              One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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                                                              Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                                              For the Sleep Depriver

                                                              (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                                              I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                                              Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                                              1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                                              2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                                              When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                                                              From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                                              For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                                              If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                                              You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                                              • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                                                              • Shut down your thinking.
                                                              • Calm your feelings.
                                                              • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                                                              The Bottom Line

                                                              Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                                                              You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                                              Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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                                                              Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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