Use this pantry cleaning checklist to get your pantry clean, organized and more efficient than ever before. You’ll know what you have on hand, where it is, and what you need. Plus, you’ll protect your food from pests and keep it from getting stale.
Pantry Cleaning Checklist
(Get the printable checklist below.)
1. Start tossing.
Move the trash can close to your pantry shelves and begin removing items, starting at the top. Figure out what’s spoiled by understanding expiration dates, then toss expired and stale foods, including old spices that have lost their flavor. Make a note of items you need to replace.
2. Give away good (unwanted) stuff.
If you have canned goods, you know your family will never eat (like the lima beans that sat on my shelves for six months), put them in a bag and give to your local food pantry. So many families are in need!
3. Clear the shelves.
As you work, separate items you often use (cereal, crackers, etc.) from those used less frequently (pickling spices, Christmas-colored sprinkles, etc.).
4. Clean the shelves.
Carefully scrape up any sticky spills with a table knife or 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.
5. Line the shelves (optional).
I am not a fan of adhesive shelf paper because it peels up in the corners and attracts dirt. Those removable rubber shelf liners are pretty amazing, though. They protect your shelves as well as your containers and are easy to wash in the sink.
6. Corral the clutter.
Gather small items like packets of oatmeal or dressing mix and store them in a container. I repurpose empty cereal boxes for this by cutting them in half and covering them with brown craft paper then attaching a pretty chalkboard-style label.
7. Repackage dry goods to protect them.
Ants, cockroaches, and pantry moths can all get into cardboard boxes or paper bags. To preserve 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 them!
8. Group by use.
Keep your baking items (flour, baking soda, etc.) with each other so you can find recipe ingredients quickly. 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 foods about to expire, place them together in a container, so you know to use them ASAP.
9. Clean and restock.
Wipe down items as you return them to the shelves. Heavier items should go on the floor or lowest shelf for safety. 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 Pantry Cleaning Checklist
Hang this inside your pantry door or tuck it in your household binder for an easy way to remember all the pantry cleaning checklist steps.