Alison Wu

From a wellness blogger’s remodel to professional home organizing advice, here’s what to keep in mind when spring cleaning your kitchen

Nena Farrell  – March 9, 2020 | Updated March 21, 2020

Materials Matter

Wellness blogger and recipe developer Alison Wu remodeled her Portland kitchen with a minimalist ethos and low-maintenance lifestyle in mind. The resulting design makes it easy to keep things clean and tidy. “My kitchen is essentially my office and also the heart of the house,” says Wu. “I wanted to create a space that’s welcoming, beautiful, functional, and inspiring.” 

Her new kitchen (pictured above) features marble countertops, even though she received multiple warnings about marble care. “Acids like lemon, vinegar, and tomatoes can stain marble easily,” says Wu. But she’s happy she stuck with her vision. “Personally, I love the way marble ages. The stains tell a story over time, and I think lend to a beautiful aged look. It’s definitely not for everyone. If you are a particularly messy cook, I would suggest going with something more forgiving like quartz or granite.”

Keep Counters Clear

One of Wu’s biggest goals in her new kitchen was to keep her countertops streamlined. Organizing experts Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, founders of The Home Edit, agree with her sentiment. “The key is not to overcrowd your counter, which can be a gateway to clutter. There should be plenty of space to prepare food, and we suggest creating stations for your favorite things. This will allow you to access them more easily and create a visually appealing space.”

Remove Build-Up

The dirtiest spots in your kitchen are the ones you aren’t thinking about, according to Sarah Paiji Yoo, CEO and co-founder of sustainable cleaning company Blueland. “We all get busy, so those non-obvious areas—the backsplash, oven, sink, and stove—are where our daily use tends to build up and hold on to dirt and grime.” Her advice? Make cleaning those easy-to-forget spots a regular habit.

Build-up can happen under the sink, too, in an entirely different way. “Most people neglect the space under the kitchen sink. It doesn’t have to be a cave of cleaning products,” say Shearer and Telpin. “Adding some bins and labeled categories for other kitchen items make it just as pretty and functional as any other cabinet.”

Streamline Your Pantry

Shearer and Telpin find that pantries are one of the trickiest spots to organize. “It’s basically an enormous Rubik’s Cube, and once it’s pulled apart, it can be tedious to reassemble.” Their advice: create a system. “Every single pantry needs to have some form of a basket or bin to contain the general categories. Clear canisters are great for dry goods and staple items, but it’s still important to have some large categories in bins that aren’t overly specific or singular. For example, a ‘Dinner Bin’ can hold everything from boxes of pasta, cans of soup, or taco shells, so you’re never stuck with an item that doesn’t have a home.”

Pace Yourself

“Don’t take on too much at once!” warns Paiji Yoo. “I try to make a game plan to tackle one area at a time to avoid fatigue and hit the areas I know are messiest first.”