Pantry Cleaning Checklist

Pantry cleaning checklist from
Use this printable pantry cleaning checklist to establish a cleaning routine for your pantry. You’ll know what you have on hand, and you’ll know it hasn’t expired. You’ll also ensure your food is safe from pests.

Pantry Cleaning Checklist

(BONUS: there’s a printable routine at the end!)

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Start tossing: Move the trash can close to your pantry shelves and begin removing items, starting at the top. Toss expired and stale foods, including cereal boxes that weren’t closed properly and old spices that have lost their flavor. Make a note of items you need to replace.

Give away the good stuff: If you have canned goods you know your family will never eat (like the lima beans that sat on my shelves for 6 months), put them in a bag and give to your local food pantry. There are so many families in need!

Clear the shelves: As you work, separate items you use often (cereal, crackers, etc.) from those used less often (pickling spices, Christmas-colored sprinkles, etc.).

Clean the shelves: Carefully scrape up any sticky spills with a spoon. Sprinkle on baking soda to absorb the mess, then wipe clean with a microfiber cloth and warm, soapy water. Let dry, then sweep off or vacuum away any crumbs. Be sure to look in the corners and under shelves for cobwebs.

Line the shelves: I am not a fan of adhesive shelf linings because they peel up in the corners and attract dirt. I love using wax or parchment paper as a liner instead. Just cut it to fit, wrapping it over the front of the shelf if you like, and use push-pins to hold it in place. Now you’ll be able to easily wipe up messes, and next time you need to clean the pantry you’ll only have to scoop up the used paper and put down a new layer.

Corral the clutter: Gather small items like packets of oatmeal or dressing mix and store them in a container. I re-use pasta boxes by cutting them in half and sticking a label on their spines. (One day I’ll get fancy and cover them with pretty wrapping paper.)

Repackage dry goods to protect them: Ants, cockroaches, and pantry moths can all get into cardboard boxes or paper bags. To protect your dry goods, transfer them from their original packaging to air-tight glass canisters that let you see what’s inside. Worried you won’t be able to tell all-purpose flour from cake flour? Label the canisters!

Group by use: Keep your baking items (flour, baking soda, etc.) together so you can find recipe ingredients easily. Store multiples together so you know how many cans or boxes of an item you have left. A can rack organizer can drastically increase your storage while keeping things neat. If you have several things about to expire, place them together in a container so you know to use them ASAP.

Clean and restock: Wipe down items as you return them to the shelves. Place less often used things on the highest shelves, and more commonly used foods at eye-level. If you want your kids to help themselves to snacks, be sure to place them conveniently so they don’t rummage around.

Printable Cleaning Routine For The Pantry

Pantry Cleaning Routine





Equipment I Use:


  1. says

    love this post! when i married my husband + we moved in together, i discovered all sorts of creepy stuff – sauces that expired 5+ years ago, etc. ick! i’m super guilty of leaving 5 potato chips in the bottom of a bag, pushing it to the back of the pantry, then ignoring it. i’m trying to get better, though! =)

  2. says

    Oh, my husband does that and it drives me nuts! Then again, I do the same thing with stuff in the freezer. I have oodles of “bags of bits”, as he calls them: produce that was days from going bad that I’ve blanched, stashed and forgotten about; rinds from hard cheeses that I decided to save for soups or fondue; heels of bread, etc.

    Opening my freezer can be a terrifying thing if I haven’t cleaned it lately, because all of my bags of bits come tumbling out like Fibber McGee’s closet!

  3. says

    Dearest Katie,

    First off, I hope that your husband is recovering well. That’s more important even than the pantry.
    Guess after several moves and quite some years I learned some tricks in keeping the pantry neat. Important is to have a sequence where you put the newest items so you don’t end up keeping the old things forever. Grouping by use is great and I do that too.
    I’ve learned to place flour and also rice in the freezer for avoiding any meal bugs. Works very well.
    Wishing you both well and sending hugs,

    • says

      Thank you, Mariette. He’s recovering nicely! The tip about putting flour and rice in the freezer is an excellent one. I freeze ours for a few days after we get it home to kill anything that might be in there already, then move it to air-tight canisters. Fortunately, we don’t have a meal bug problem. (Though I’m going to keep my fingers crossed on that, the way our luck has been of late.)

    • says

      Especially with children rummaging through, right? I can find anything in my pantry, until my son gets in there. Then, whoa Nellie. It looks like a tornado hit it!

  4. Raquel@2dayswoman says

    Alright, your post has really inspired me to clean my pantry (long overdue!) I suspect I’m going to find all sorts of things lurking in the back….We usually have a good suply of canned food just in case we get stuck at home.
    I hope your husband is recovering well. Best wishes to you and your family.

    • says

      Thank you, Raquel. He’s recovering nicely! I’m due for a pantry-cleaning, too, after our house guests leave. Three weeks with other people going through the cupboards and pantry willy nilly (and not even paying attention to my pretty shelf labels… *sniff*) means it’s a mess.

  5. sarah says

    I’m just reading over the days and this one is a day I’m NOT looking forward to. I am though looking forward to how my house will look when I’m done. So far the daily cleaning routine is going good, the other day my daughter wanted to make the bed before we got out of it.

    • Katie Berry says

      The pantry is NOT fun to clean. Well, actually, I can’t say there’s really thing that’s fun to clean, but the pantry definitely takes a lot of work. Maybe your daughter would be willing to do it? :)

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