If you’re like most people, your kitchen counter serves as a catch-all for a variety of items, both food-related and not. However, there are some items you may not want to keep.
Do you keep your spice jars on your kitchen counter? How about your knives and olive oil? While it might look like the most convenient place to store things, your kitchen countertop is actually a bad storage place for some items. To eliminate clutter-related stress and make the most of your space, here are the 10 things you shouldn’t be stored on your kitchen countertop.
Rarely Used Appliances
In a survey from MasterBrand Cabinets, the majority of Americans (60 percent) cited cluttered counter space as their biggest cause of stress in the kitchen. Too often, kitchen counters become a prime spot to stash things you’re not sure where else to put, which clutters them up real quick! And, on top of that, there are also plenty of kitchen items that you’re actually better off not keeping on your counter.
For instance, your kitchen counter may seem like the obvious place to keep toasters, blenders, mixers, and other appliances—they’re kitchen tools, after all. But if you only use them every once in a while, there really is no sense in having them take up space on your countertops. Indeed, more than half of survey respondents said that appliances were the biggest culprits of their stress-inducing counter-clutter.
A good rule of thumb to give yourself is: If you don’t use it every day (or every time you cook), it shouldn’t be taking up space on your counter. And if you’re not sure where to put these things instead, these kitchen storage hacks you’ll want to use immediately will help.
And the number two cause of counter clutter-related stress, according to the survey? Stacks of papers. This one’s easy to understand; it’s a lot easier to just toss day-to-day papers onto your counter than to read through and sort all of them. Whether it’s magazines, newspapers, junk mail, or not-so-junky mail like bills, papers can accumulate fast, and the more they do, the more of a hassle it is to organize them. And a messy look isn’t the only reason to keep papers out of your cooking space. If papers, especially magazines, get wet while sitting on your countertop, “the ink can easily get transferred onto your countertop’s surface,” cautions Stephanie Cooper of Energy Cleaning. “After that, it is a nightmare to clean.”
We won’t fault you for wanting to keep the often quite decorative canisters containing your sugar, flour, and other such ingredients in plain view on your counter. But you can’t deny that they can sometimes be bulky and take up a good deal of room. This one’s really a matter of personal preference, but it’s still pretty easy and convenient to keep them in a cabinet just above your counter. Or, aspoints out, they are called “pantry staples,” so you could keep them out of the way in your pantry as well, especially if you don’t find yourself using them very often.
It may come as a surprise, but your counter probably isn’t the best place to keep your spice collection. In particular, make sure you’re not storing spices near your oven or stove top, where accumulated heat can weaken their flavors over time. Stephanie Bostic, Ph.D., a registered dietician, and food safety expert explains that “light, and heat from sunlight or cooking surfaces, can degrade the flavors faster than if you store them in a cool, dark place.”
Here’s another food that you’ve probably been storing on your counter and inadvertently lessening its quality. Just like spices, olive oil can go bad more quickly if it’s stored indirect light and heat. The same is true for other types of oil as well; they will keep better in a cool, dark place. “Inside a cabinet or pantry works well for most oils,” Bostic suggests.
You had to know this was coming. The more visible and accessible your guilty-pleasure snacks are, the more likely you are to grab them, start eating, and not stop. Keeping desserts and snacks in less convenient, less accessible places will allow you to be less tempted by them. The same goes for anyone else in your household, too (looking at you, kiddos). And, on top of that, baked goods and candy can leave stickiness and crumbs on your counter, which, well, isn’t the best, most sanitary kitchen aesthetic.
Put simply, food and chemical-packed cleaning products don’t mix! You don’t want to risk spilling any of these inedible substances onto your food or the areas where you prep it. Even more kitchen-friendly products, like dish soap and disinfectants, should be stored in a closet or a cabinet, such as one underneath the sink, especially once they’re open. This way, they’ll have a much lower chance of spilling into your kitchen prep space, which, in addition to potentially being dangerous, also just makes a big mess.
With the increasing popularity of home devices that can be very helpful while cooking, such as the Amazon Alexa, it’s tempting to keep them handy on your kitchen counter. But considering the amount of water-pouring, dishwashing, and accidental spillage that happens during meal preparation, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep your phones, laptops, virtual assistants, and speakers off your counter and out of range of any potential water damage.