Home & DesignCleaningSpringWeekend CookingPantry

A Play-By-Play Guide to Deep Cleaning Your Pantry This Saturday

9 Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

Durt—dur-dur-dur! (That's the sound of a trumpet, obviously.) The weekend is coming! Seize the opportunity to get a head-start on spring cleaning by tackling a big project when you've got a whole day to burn. Think of the accomplishment you will feel. The clean-headedness that will overtake you. Endorphins! It's all very exciting.

We're into such projects not just for the feel-goods, but for the treasures you'll find cleaning out a space. The pantry, treasure trove of dinner-making odds and ends, is a great place to start—small enough to handle in a weekend, big enough to feel like a substantial change.

Advertisement

The following is a game plan for getting it done:

Friday Night

6:00 pm

On your way home from the office, pick up any supplies you'll need for the deep clean: a new pack of Ball Jars, for storing grains and pastas when you ditch the bags? A big wire basket to toss all your food storage containers into while they lay in wait? Shelf liners to roll out once the space has been cleaned?

Modula Stackable Storage Container Starter Set

Modula Stackable Storage Container Starter Set

From $50
Pinstripe Floral Gold Shelf Liner

Pinstripe Floral Gold Shelf Liner

From $32

Feel free to, ahem, order these supplies from our shop and do your big clean out next weekend. You'll also need lots of rags, white vinegar for cleaning, a notebook and pen, and comfy pants. Nobody wants to deep clean in slacks.

Advertisement

8:30 pm

Later, when you're safely in pajamas and house slippers (yes soft clothing is a tenet of deep cleaning prep), make dinner from the dregs of pantry foods that need to be used up. Pour a glass of wine, and go to bed early so you can wake up fresh to start The Big Clean.

Or go do something fun and be sure to grab a Gatorade on your way home.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad, by Way of the Pantry

Southwestern Quinoa Salad, by Way of the Pantry by Nicholas Day

+
11 Pantry Staples That You Can Turn into Dinner

11 Pantry Staples That You Can Turn into Dinner by Sarah Jampel

+
If You Have This, Make That: Pantry Edition

If You Have This, Make That: Pantry Edition by Gabriella Paiella

+
 35 Recipes to Make Using (Mostly) What's Already in Your Pantry

35 Recipes to Make Using (Mostly) What's Already in Your... by Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

+

Saturday Morning

9:30 am

Coffee. Bagel. Gatorade as needed.

10:30 am

Ready? The first step to pantry bliss is, you guessed it, the purge. This involves removing almost everything from your pantry's shelves and, as you do, weeding out the anonymous (or deteriorating) bottles and jars that have just seen better days.

The Real Shelf Life of Pantry Items (& When to Pay Attention to Expiration Dates)
+
The Real Shelf Life of Pantry Items (& When to Pay Attention to Expiration Dates)

Clear off your counter, and start transferring items from your pantry. Organize bags, bottles, boxes, and jars into categories—oils here, vinegars there. Oh wait, you have two white wine vinegars? Set one in a pile called "to use up" (this will come in handy tomorrow) and bookmark this tutorial on pickling vegetables; add any other things that need to be finished to that pile.

Compost what's compostable; drop any dirty containers in the sink for a washing. Be merciless.

11:30 AM

Second breakfast. We recommend eggs.

Noon

Gear up for the deep clean, opening any windows nearby to get fresh air in there (and let the dusty air escape). Clean any shelves in your pantry first, by dusting them using a slightly-damp microfiber cloth and then saturating a fresh cloth in all-purpose cleaner, and running it all over the shelves and cabinet walls.

Start with high shelves and work your way down, so you aren't pushing dirt onto clean shelves as you go. Dry with a clean rag.

6 All-Natural Cleaning Products You Can Make at Home

6 All-Natural Cleaning Products You Can Make at Home by Sarah Engler

+
The Laziest Way to Get a Sticker Off a Jar is Also the Most Effective

The Laziest Way to Get a Sticker Off a Jar is Also the Mo... by Amanda Sims

+

If your pantry is a walk-in, clean the floor next—by sweeping and then giving it a once-over with a mop (yes, a Swiffer will do the trick). Light a candle nearby.

1:30 PM

Go outside for a bit. The farmers market is probably still going on! Though if it were me I'd find a nice park to take in a book. When you get back home, make yourself lunch.

(Yes the last drazzle of tahini in the jar, spread on toast with honey, counts, but so do marinated need-to-be-used-up lentils).

Sabrina Ghayour's Persian "Adassi" Lentil Stew

Sabrina Ghayour's Persian "Adassi" Lentil Stew by Ali Slagle

5 Unexpected Ways to Use Tahini

5 Unexpected Ways to Use Tahini by Hillary Pollak

+

2:30 PM

Return to your lair and all the pantry goods spread out on your counter, with a notebook and pen nearby. Evaluate the groupings one at a time. Are your bottles of specialty oils a little bit gunky? Address that with a clean rag that's been dipped in diluted white vinegar. And take stock: You're almost out of toasted sesame oil, right? Put it on the grocery list.

This is also the time to upgrade containers. Bags of flour, dried beans, grains, and dry noodles can be upturned into glass jars and labeled with tape and a Sharpie. Bonus points if yours are stackable.

3:30 PM

Snack. Consider a beer. Switch up the music.

4:00 PM

After you've cleaned and sorted through your things, start adding them back into your sparkly clean pantry. Put ingredients you use most frequently closer to the door, tuck beloved-but-specialty appliances in the back.

Amanda Hesser's Best Tips for a Clean, Organized Pantry
+
Amanda Hesser's Best Tips for a Clean, Organized Pantry

5:00 PM

Clean the counter, close the pantry doors and be done for the day. Root around the "to use up" pile for dinner, if you're feeling it, or take the chance to get out of the house again. Tomorrow there's a bit more work to do.

sunday

9:30 AM

Hit snooze. You deserve it.

10:14-ish AM

Prep your grocery list—including extra ingredients to help you spin those "to use" dregs into wonderful new somethings—and head to the store. You might as well get food for the week, too, so make it a big run and take lots of bags. Prep and clean any produce right when you get home.

In Reverse: The Smarter Way to Organize Your Grocery List

In Reverse: The Smarter Way to Organize Your Grocery List by Mark A. Denner

+
How an Organized Kitchen Can Help Save You Money

How an Organized Kitchen Can Help Save You Money by Catherine Lamb

+

11:30 AM

Revisit your friend the pantry. Feel it out. Do you have a little extra room for new pantry items to find their way in, or is it still feeling crammed? If the latter, consider moving those most-essentials (or your spices, if they currently abide in your pantry) into the kitchen directly.

12:00 PM

Lunch and organizational plotting. Do you want to buy and mount a cute spice caddy in the kitchen, or build one yourself using a 1" x 2", two yards of string or ribbon, and some nails? I promise you are capable of the latter: Hammer two nails into the wall, tie two equally-sized lengths of thread into large, equally-sized loops, then run the wood through them and loop them over the nails.

Could you use dish risers on some of those clean pantry shelves, to better see what's lurking in the back? Or extra-large glass containers for filling up with flour and sugar? Make a list of extra materials, and plan for next weekend's project.

(Yes, you could have done that pre-clean out, but you'll make better decisions with the joint all spruced up.)

1:00 PM

Start the projects that are inspired by your dregs. Here are some likely offenders and what to do with them:

14 Ways to Give Your Rice or Pasta Dregs New Life

14 Ways to Give Your Rice or Pasta Dregs New Life by Caroline Lange

+
What to Do with Your Food Coloring Dregs (That's Not Food)

What to Do with Your Food Coloring Dregs (That's Not Food) by Laura Kaesshaefer

+
The Best Use For Your Empty Jar of Peanut Butter

The Best Use For Your Empty Jar of Peanut Butter by Leslie Stephens

+
What to Do with the Last Spoonfuls in Your Honey Jar

What to Do with the Last Spoonfuls in Your Honey Jar by Caroline Lange

+
What to Do with a Few Leftover Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar

What to Do with a Few Leftover Tablespoons of Balsamic Vi... by Caroline Lange

+
10 Things to Make with Tahini that Have Nothing to Do with Hummus

10 Things to Make with Tahini that Have Nothing to Do wit... by Gena Hamshaw

+

Now put those fixings into clean containers, and use them for the week ahead.

Phewf. Is it the weekend yet?

Tell us: What are your best pantry clean-out tips?

Tags: projects, weekend