Spring is the time of year many of us like to purge in the house and give a good deep clean. Whether you like to give your house a deep clean once a year, quarterly or whenever the willpower arises there are certain things that are worth taking a closer look at. Spring cleaning is more than washing the walls and window sills and moving furniture to finally vacuum behind that couch you’ve been neglecting for months, it can be about going through the nicknacks you’ve been holding onto all year long that you finally have the willpower to give away.
The kitchen should be no exception when it comes to Spring cleaning. Like other areas of the house when you’re ready to tackle a space like a kitchen you really should go through every nook and cranny. While you pull everything out of your cupboards and your fridge it’s time you access each item you’re storing and decide whether or not is best you toss it. Together we can look at 12 common things you should check to either toss, donate, sell or keep while you spring clean your kitchen.
I’m sure a lot of you are like myself and tend to buy ingredients for recipes, use it once or twice then let it sit in the fridge on months end just to find out it is definitely past its time. Not only should we spring clean the condiments out of our fridge but our cupboards too.
If you constantly scout the flyers or your flyer apps for good deals on your favorite staples then I’m sure your cupboards are full of condiments too. It is a great way to stock up on ketchup, or salad dressing and saves money but what about when that bottle gets pushed to the back of the cupboard and is then forgotten about. When you choose to tackle your big cleaning job make sure to check all the expiration dates on your condiments if it’s passed toss it. If the date is approaching but you know you aren’t going to use it consider donating it to your local food bank so it doesn’t go to waste.
First, you shouldn’t be storing any cans in the fridge. If you don’t know by now, storing opened canned food in the fridge can lead to negative effects on your health. More specifically in foods that are acidic like fruit juices, tomatoes, and tomato sauces, these types of canned foods if stored in the fridge in an open metal can have leached iron and tin from the can wall giving the food a metallic taste. High concentrations of tin could cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, fever, and headache. Make sure to follow the same rules if you feed your animals canned food.
Further, when you choose to clean your kitchen make sure to thoroughly check all the cans in your cupboards. You’ll want to look for expiration dates. If the dates are in line and you can continue storing them then next you’ll want to examine the can. If there are signs of rust, bulges or dents it might be best to toss them, these things can lead to botulism (food poisoning caused by bacteria growth on improperly sterilized canned foods) because bacteria can leach into the can. If air can enter canned food even from the tiniest wholes it can jeopardize the integrity of the food inside.
There are many types of dried foods that we may be stored in our pantry. The lifespan of storing dried food in the pantry will depend on what kind of dried food you have on hand. You can get about 8-10 years out of dehydrated vegetables before it’s time you spring clean them out of your kitchen.
Shelled nuts can last up to 2 years before you should toss them and unsalted nuts will generally last longer than the salted variety. Dried fruit will usually only stay fresh for about 6 months, so toss those dried mangos if they’ve been in the cupboard for over a year. Lastly, dried beans are usually considered to have an indefinite life, however, they will lose their moister after 2 years. When cleaning your pantry make sure to ask yourself if you really think you are going to use the dried food you have on hand. If it’s still fresh and it’s been sitting for a year it might be time to donate it to someone who could use it more than you.
Whether you are an advent baker or not keeping flour on hand can be used for baking and cooking. However, when you choose to deep clean your kitchen make sure you don’t overlook the flour you have been keeping in your pantry. Whether you store it in its original bag or transfer it into an airtight container, flour kept at room temperature should only be kept for about one year.
If you like to take advantage of a sale and buy flour in bulk you could consider freezing your flour. Some studies claim that flour can be stored indefinitely in the freezer. While I don’t think I would want to keep flour for my entire lifespan it is a good idea to keep it in the freezer so it stays fresh until you need it.
When spring cleaning your kitchen make sure to check over the rice you have on hand. White rice, basmati rice, wild rice and jasmine rice all have indefinite life-spans, so you are in the clear there. It can spoil if it comes in contact with bacteria and isn’t stored properly, an airtight container in a cool area should do the trick. Look out for a rank odor or lookout for weevils which are small red in color bugs that can live within the rice to tell if your rice has gone bad.
However, when it comes to brown rice it is a bit of a different story. Brown rice has a higher oil content and due to that fact, you can only store it in the cupboard for up to six months. You can double that lifespan if you store it in the fridge but 12 months is about as far as you’ll get. If you have been holding on your brown rice for a whole year telling yourself you will use it, it is probably time to toss it.
If you’re like my household and like to store potatoes in a bucket in a cupboard then you’ll want to check them out too when you are spring cleaning your kitchen. It’s easy to keep restocking potatoes before the entire bucket is empty and sometimes we forget that the old potatoes are actually at the bottom of the container. Potatoes can keep at room temperature for one to two weeks but if stored in a dark and cool place you can usually stretch their freshness to about two to three months.
Some signs to look for if you should toss your potatoes is most obviously mold but also wrinkled potatoes (could indicate dry or wet rot), and potatoes with deep cracks (sign of rough storage handling). While potatoes that have sprouted doesn’t mean they have gone bad just simply that they have been stored for a while (they generally sprout within one to four months after harvesting) do make sure you cut them off before you cook them. And lastly when spring cleaning, although we wash our potatoes before we use them, make sure to empty the container you store your potatoes in and give it a good washing too.
Baking ingredients include a variety of staple items such as sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, chocolate chips and so on. While sugar can have a shelf life up to 30 years if stored properly, other baking ingredients don’t make it quite that long. Spring cleaning is a good opportunity for you to rummage through the baking cupboard to find out what you should toss.
For unopened containers always go by the best before date but once they have been opened and have been put to use there are a few things to consider. If your baking soda has been opened for over six months it’s time to toss it, the same applies to baking powder. Most cocoa powders can maintain it’s quality up to 3 years if stored properly. And chocolate chips can store up to 2 years but make sure to test them before you add to your baking to make sure they’re still fresh. If you’re not an advent baker donating some of your unopened baking ingredients might be a better idea than hanging on to them until your next big annual cleaning.
Tea and coffee are one of those food items that when you see a new fun flavor, you want to pick it up and try it. Even if you’re a frequent tea and or coffee drinker, admit it, we all have excess tea bags and coffee grounds lying around. While they are a dry food item they don’t actually last as long as one might think.
Both loose leaf tea and bagged tea have a shelf life of 6-12 months. Make sure to check these out during your spring cleaning, if you’ve been holding onto them all year long, it’s time to toss them. Furthermore, ground coffee opened and unopened will last from 3-5 months, a bag of coffee beans can last up to 6-9 months and instant coffee can last 2-20 years. While tea and coffee don’t usually show visual signs that it’s time to toss you can use your nose if it’s lacking in smell you can bet the flavor will be too, and it’s time to toss it.
I’m sure many of us have a spice rack in some form or another. Have you ever wondered to yourself, just how long can these seasonings last me? Well, when you do your annual cleaning be sure to check out your spice rack too. Dried herbs only last for about one to three years. If you feel like you won’t be able to remember when you first purchased them it might be a good idea for you start labeling your spices with dates. To test if your spices are still fresh rub a small amount in your hand and your natural oils should activate the spice if it’s potent it’s still good to use if the smell is faint it’s time to toss.
Ground spices can usually be stored for about 2-3 years before they lose their freshness, you may need to worry less about these but it’s still a good idea to check them over during your cleaning. And lastly, whole spices will last you the longest, about 4 years. To maintain freshness make sure you are storing your seasonings in a cool dark place in airtight containers away from moisture and fluctuating temperatures (like next to the oven).
If you’re like me and are guilty of jumping onto food trends then you too probably have a lot of kitchen gadgets that are lying around. Although many of them are quite cool with all their features they can take up a lot of counter space as well as storage space that you could be using for something else.
When you spring clean your kitchen ask yourself have you used this tool within the last year, if the answer is no consider donating it or selling it. If the answer is yes then ask yourself how many times have you used it within that year, if you can’t justify the item then it is probably best to toss it. Afterall, do you really need a Keurig, a coffee maker, and an electric kettle? Pick what will benefit your household the most and be realistic with yourself.
Besides kitchen gadgets, it is also a good idea to spring clean your dishes. I’m sure everyone is a sucker for something, whether it’s new cute serving platters, or new colored plates, for me, it’s coffee cups. If I see a mug with a cute design or a witty saying I have next to no self-control. I try to justify it to my frequent coffee drinking but yet I find myself still always reaching for that same cup.
While you go through your dishes ask yourself the same question, have I used this within the last year? If the answer is “not frequently” I’m sure someone else can enjoy it more than you. Donate it or sell it to make some extra cash that you can put to a better use. Don’t forget to not neglect your Tupperware cupboard! If you have lids with missing containers or vice versa, stop storing them and toss them! Lastly, while you are at it make sure to check you bakeware too. If you have special shaped pans or tins that aren’t being used it’s time to toss those too.
Lastly, after you have gotten through cleaning out all your food, your unused kitchen gadgets, and your dishes it is time to tackle your utensils. This doesn’t just include the forks and knives you use to eat with, it also includes the avocado slicer you bought off the TV infomercial.
If you aren’t using it on a regular basis, do you really need it? If an avocado slicer makes your heart happy then keep it but if you can handle cutting your avocado with a knife like us ordinary folk then consider giving it away. If you have any utensils that are a low-quality metal this is also a good time to look them over for any rusting. If it you can’t clean it off it is time to toss it.