Speed Clean Your Pantry

This season, your kitchen is probably starting to get a lot more action -- and a lot of mess. One place that needs a little extra TLC: your pantry. Out of sight, sticky shelves, unsightly spills and expired food are all too easy to leave behind and forget about. But for a healthy, germ-free kitchen, take control of the messes hiding in your pantry with this easy speed-cleaning routine.

Step 1: Set a timer.

Once the timer is ticking, don’t do anything else but the task at hand. “You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you eliminate distractions and add a timer,” says Becky, cleaning expert and blogger at clean mama. That means no calls, no computer: just clean. Or try another tactic. “Clean a little bit every day. It’s less overwhelming and you can speed through it in 15 minutes a day,” she says.

Step 2: Purge and donate.

“Start by throwing away any expired food items,” says Becky. Then, gather the canned goods you don’t want or won't eat any time soon and bring them to your local food pantry. Be sure to keep boxes and trash cans next to your pantry while cleaning, so you don’t spend time running back and forth.

Step 3: Disinfect.

Once you’ve gotten rid of expired or non-essential items, remove all other items from your pantry and set them on the kitchen table and counters, says Becky. Place spices, pastas, breakfast items, snacks and more together, so they can easily be placed back in practical places together. Once your pantry is empty, use a fresh-scented multipurpose cleaner to clean shelves. Crumbs come up more easily with a wet paper towel. Spritz an air freshener to freshen up your pantry and eliminate any odors. Replace all items, keeping the ones you use the most in the easiest-to-reach places.

“Once you’ve completed a large cleaning project, it’s important to maintain it,” says Becky. This means always putting items in their proper place, cleaning small messes right away and going through your food items before grocery shopping to make sure you won't be buying items twice. “Get other family members involved in returning things to their proper place as well,” says Becky.