I got the kick up the butt I needed last night to organize under the kitchen sink. The plumbing leaked. It was about 11pm and we were just getting ready to go to bed when I noticed a small lake covering the kitchen floor. Aaagh.

A quick glance in the cupboard confirmed the bottom trap of the plumbing had come away from the rest of the pipe work and the cabinet was dripping wet.

So I set about emptying the contents onto the countertop whilst hubby got the mop out. Well it was quite an eye-opener.

Contents From Under The Kitchen Sink

I found mosquito nets I knew I had but had had to buy new over the summer. I had enough cleaning fluids to last 6 months. Hubby spotted the oven cleaner and set to work spraying the foam over some stubborn grime on a baking sheet – at 11pm – why??!! He left this in the hallway but after we’d gone to bed had to come down and move it outside as the fumes were a bit too close to home.

Anyway I was actually quite glad this happened as organizing under the sink was on my list of kitchen organization tasks – the leak just pushed it to the top of the list.

If you are in a similar situation with no room left under the sink to store anything and with 5 things falling out every time you try to find your kitchen cleaner, give your plumbing a nudge and you’ll have no choice!!

 

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So here’s what I’ve been doing whilst waiting for the plumbing glue to dry.

Step 1

I cleaned the cabinet!

An Empty Cabinet

The kitchen paper was just there to check we had no more leaks!

Step 2

I tossed or relocated the following:

  • anything I don’t use (eg, dishwasher rinsing agent). Be brutal!
  • anything that looked too old to be any use (eg, Vimto cordial I’d forgotten about).
  • anything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen (eg, sun cream). Move it to the right place.
  • anything that doesn’t belong under the sink (eg, bottles of olive oil & vinegar). Again move it to the right place.

I’m lucky as my sink is in the corner so my cabinet is quite big but if yours isn’t you could also consider moving items you use infrequently to the pantry, basement or garage.

Step 3

I then grouped the remaining items into sensible collections for me and how I use them. For example, dishwasher stuff, floor cleaners, kitchen cleaners etc.

I also moved the duplicates to my surplus storage area. (NB: if you don’t already have one I’d highly recommend setting one up. This way you can take advantage of savings to be made when buying in bulk without stretching your kitchen storage beyond its limit.)

Now is a good time, to collect together items that you use together but move from room to room when you are cleaning, such as the duster and polish, window cleaner etc. Treat yourself to a storage bin with a carry handle so you can just pick up the whole collection quickly and easily when needed.

Step 4

The next problem was what to use to organize the cabinet under the sink. It is probably the most difficult space to get in order for a number of reasons:

  • the plumbing – this is the biggest headache as it can be quite bulky especially in a small cabinet;
  • the mish mash of items – your collection of cleaning products and supplies can be quite eclectic so organizing items that are a mixture of shapes and sizes is a conundrum;
  • suitable organizers – generic organizers may not fit within the confines of what you’ve got going on under your sink. There are purpose built under sink organizers but if you don’t want to spend the money on those, you’ll need to measure carefully and be creative.

Not having time to buy any special organizers and not really wanting to spend the money anyway, I grabbed some cardboard boxes and started allocating my grouped items – one group to each box. I corralled smaller items into smaller boxes.

A Box Of Cloths

I would have preferred to use plastic baskets but I didn’t have any to hand so will swap them over when I’ve been shopping. (I plan on buying a stock of more than I need so I’ve always got some on hand for organizing emergencies!) You can get them cheaply at dollar stores and being plastic they are easy to rinse out if cleaning fluids leak.

Step 5

I then wanted to perform a bit of rationalization. I knew there were other cleaning products taking up valuable kitchen drawer space that would make more sense to store under the sink. As this area was no longer going to be my kitchen’s Bermuda Triangle, I was happy to free up some drawer space for other things.

Step 6

Next it was time to think about how to best utilize all the available space. Like I said my cabinet is quite big so I didn’t need to be creative with the space when I saw the small collection of stuff I had left after decluttering.

As you can see below I’ve managed to fit everything back in easily with space to spare. But if your cabinet is short on space, consider the following:

  • create a shelf to double the storage area. You can buy readymade helper shelves or just create your own with a plank of wood, a baking sheet, a tray or whatever you have to hand.
  • stick command hooks to the walls inside your cabinet. Use them to hang things like rubber gloves from binder clips (I saw this great tip at Organize With Sandy), cloths etc.
  • use the space on the back of the door to hang hooks or wire racks. To save drilling into your cabinet doors, you could consider using command hooks to hang a light rack from or there are also many ‘over the door’ organizers that just hang in place. The back of the door is ideal for your most frequently used items, as they would be handy to grab, or perhaps small items such as cleaners or scourers. Just make sure you can still close the door before you get carried away.

Step 7

Get ready to re-fill the cabinet. If you are a fan of shelf liners (I’m not), get them on in there. A rubber mat might be a better idea under the sink to provide extra protection against spills or future plumbing leaks.

Step 8

At last, it was time to clear my counter and replace my items. I put the least used at the back and the most used at the front.

Then I stood and admired my newly organized under sink cabinet. Wow! Look at all that free space. There actually looks more in real life than on that photo.

An Organized Under Sink Cabinet

For more inspiration, check out this collection of great under the sink organizers I’ve put together. There are DIY options as well as some to buy including sliding organizers, expandable organizers and pull out organizers.

Also please leave me a comment if you have any great under the sink organization tips. 

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