Sherrys Fall Cleaning Time

Posted: Updated:

It's still hot. But. The mornings. Are they not glorious and can you actually smell Fall in the air? Growing up in Arizona, my mom and I didn't do Spring Cleaning. We had Fall Cleaning. After the hot summer months and the house being closed up against all that heat and humidity, we loved opening windows and letting the fresh air in during those beautiful Fall mornings and evenings. It also inspired us to do a little cleaning and organizing just like people do in the Snow Country in the Spring.

One area in my house that needs sprucing up is my kitchen. I pretty much ignore it during July and August. It's too hot to cook, much less clean out cupboards and drawers. By this time of year, my kitchen is crying out for help. I would like to share some of my organizing ideas and hints I and some of my friends use in our kitchens.

I have a pantry that consists of four large cabinets that are deep. Nice for storing a lot of items but bad because things get lost in the back. To combat this from happening, I have started putting items in metal baskets. This way I can pull the basket out of the pantry to get to an ingredient without having to hunt them down. I have several Theme Baskets. I have one for each of the following: beans, rice, nuts, dried fruit, packaged spice and dressing mixes, oils and vinegars.  I have a Baking Basket where I have baking ingredients like cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder, chocolate chips, etc. When I bake, I pull the basket out and everything I need is there. I have a basket for my hand mixer and emulsion appliances so I don't have to search for their attachments in a drawer.

During my Fall Cleaning, I pull all my baskets out of the cupboard along with all other items and clean the shelves. I use my Counter Top Cleaner that has peroxide, vinegar and essential oils of tea tree oil (which are all antibacterial) and lemongrass (for a nice, fresh smell). A good hint from my Auntie Vel is to sprinkle crumbled up dry bay leaves on the shelves to combat those little, black bugs that like to hang out. Since using bay, I haven't had any problems. I also put most of my opened dry ingredients in clear plastic or glass jars. That way I can see the contents easily and it also creates another barrier for those bugs. To transfer the ingredients to the jars, I use an envelope. I cut a large triangle from one end of the envelope, then snip the tip off the corner, open it into a cone and the ingredients pour into the jar very easily. For large amounts, use a big manila envelope.

Sometimes (ok, ok; a lot of the times!) my honey, for some strange reason, leaks and gets the shelf all sticky. Jams sometimes do that to me and I have to admit it drives me crazy. To keep my stress to a minimum, I have started placing these items (that seem to leak at every opportunity) on a small baking sheet and place it on the pantry shelf. I can slide it out towards me to get items behind the others and if it leaks, I pull it out and clean it at the sink.

To eliminate the search for the right lids for my pots and pans, I put them all (from large to small) in a plastic foot bathtub and place it in the cupboard. To get a lid, I just pull the tub out of the cupboard, get it and put the tub back. Nesting pots and pans saves space in the cupboard, but I preserve the stainless-steel interiors by inserting large coffee filters between pans. You can use soft paper towels, too.

Bamboo steamers have holes that let air in and out to cook food uniformly. For just that reason, these containers are also good for storing onions, garlic and shallots, which require ventilation and should not be refrigerated. Place all three in a single unit, or if you use lots of all of them, keep each kind in its own section of a stackable steamer. Place the steamer on a tray or plate to catch flaking skins, and set it on the counter or in a cupboard.

I like to hang a dish towel from my oven door for convenience but it always seems to fall off when I use it. I found an idea online that works so well: I make it into a loop by attaching Velcro strips to two ends, one on the front and one on the back. You can stitch it in place but I use the iron-on Velcro strips since I'm allergic to sewing. I have also done this as a hostess gift. When the post-holiday sales are going on, I scoop up the kitchen towels and have them for the next holiday season. If I'm real efficient (I've been known to be that way on occasion!), I will put the Velcro on them before I store them away. Such an easy thing to grab as is or to use as a wrapping for another gift item.

Whenever using your kitchen string, has it rolled away from you, fallen to the floor and disappeared under the refrigerator? No? Well, it has in my kitchen! I found the great idea using a terra-cotta flower pot to store it and use for dispensing. I place the pot over the ball of twine, thread it through the drainage hole and pull out the string and snip the length needed for tying herb bouquets or trussing a chicken.  This also works well with balls of twine and cord in your crafts corner, too. I have one friend who painted her pot with bright colors to match her kitchen and leaves it on the counter as a decorative item.

My Auntie Vel uses plastic protectors to place her recipes in and then stores them in a 3-ring binder, divided by index pages for each category. It is so easy to tear out a recipe, place it in a pocket then in the binder. Another idea I saw online was to purchase photo protectors to keep recipe cards organized and free of spills. You insert the card in each pocket by category. Now my aunt has all her recipes in one place. So convenient!

These are just a few ideas for the kitchen and I hope one or more of them has helped you get motivated to get your kitchen in good shape. It's Fall, ya know, and time to celebrate by making your kitchen organized and ready for the holidays, which are fast approaching!

Sher's Counter Top Cleaner
32-ounce plastic spray bottle
2 cups water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tsp dish soap
3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops lemongrass or lavender

Pour all ingredients in spray bottle. Shake well before each use.