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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 June 15, 2018

                                                              What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

                                                              What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

                                                              Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

                                                              Video Summary

                                                              Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

                                                              Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

                                                              Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

                                                              Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

                                                              This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

                                                              Sitting Is the New Smoking

                                                              Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

                                                              The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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                                                              Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

                                                                Sit Properly

                                                                If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

                                                                Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

                                                                  Credit: StayWow

                                                                  Stand Up More

                                                                  Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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                                                                  Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

                                                                  Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

                                                                  Or get a standing desk.

                                                                  One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

                                                                  Exercise for Lower Back Pain

                                                                  Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

                                                                  But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

                                                                  The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

                                                                  Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

                                                                  Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

                                                                  This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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                                                                  Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

                                                                  Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

                                                                  There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

                                                                  Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

                                                                  I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

                                                                  Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

                                                                  If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

                                                                  Where to Start

                                                                  The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

                                                                  Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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                                                                  If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

                                                                  Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

                                                                  Keep a straight back.

                                                                  Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

                                                                  Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

                                                                  I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

                                                                  If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

                                                                  Stay Away From the Back Pain League

                                                                  Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

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