5 Professional Organizers Reveal the Items You Should Never Keep on Your Kitchen Counter

published Mar 14, 2022
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Credit: Minette Hand

There are spots in my home that just always seem to be covered in things, and the kitchen counter is a particularly bad hotspot. Beyond just the visual aspect of having a ton of clutter on your kitchen counter, there’s also the “ew” factor: Items left out on your kitchen counter are subject to water splashes, food stains, and other hazards. Every year, Apartment Therapy tours the homes of inspiring professional organizers, and this year I asked them to share their organizing wisdom, too. Below, they give up the items that should never be stored or kept on your kitchen counters. Peruse this list, and then consider taking an inventory of your own kitchen’s workspace.

Paper clutter

“Kitchen counters are a magnet for paper clutter like bills, mail, and kid art. You can prevent the paper mountain by maintaining designated ‘homes’ for the items that frequently land on your kitchen counter. I always suggest having a centralized place for mail and to-do’s and another for incoming kid art, homework, etc. You can also limit kitchen counter clutter by relocating those pesky bulky appliances that rarely get used,” says Organizing expert and author Shira Gill (whose home Apartment Therapy toured).

Michele Vig, the founder and Chief Organizer at Neat Little Nest, who lives in a tidy Minnesota home, agrees. “Homes are all so unique that it is hard to say never, but the items I would prefer lived somewhere other than the kitchen counter are papers. They often collect on kitchen counters because they don’t have a home.”

Credit: Jes Lahay

Anything you don’t want to get wet

“Besides gross, health department-type of items, don’t set anything on a kitchen counter you don’t want to get wet,” advises Nonnahs Driskill, founding organizer of Get Organized Already! who lives in this neat Long Beach home.

Items you don’t use every day

“This will be different for every household but if it’s something you don’t need access to everyday, you probably shouldn’t keep it on your counter. In general, if you have a limited amount of counter space, items such as small kitchen appliances, decor items, and non everyday utensils should be stored to retain that space for other items,” writes Janelle Williams, who owns Organized by JWC (and whose neat Maryland home Apartment Therapy recently toured).

Credit: Jason Rampe


“Keep your masks away from the kitchen and deposit them in a bin or on a tray by the front door. There’s something unappetizing (not to mention unsanitary) about seeing a lone mask hanging out on your kitchen counter,” suggests Caroline Solomon, owner of organizing company Caroline Solomon Home and whose tidy New York apartment was featured on Apartment Therapy recently.

Credit: Jason Rampe

Appliances you never use

Caroline Solomon has another suggestion. “Keep your kitchen counter as free of clutter as possible by storing less frequently used kitchen appliances. If you use your Vitamix once every few months, it doesn’t have to live on your kitchen counter. Freeing up your kitchen counter creates more space to spread out for cooking and baking.”

Credit: Jason Rampe

Too many kitchen utensils

“It might be tempting to keep all your kitchen utensils in one huge utensil crock, but this just creates unnecessary clutter and friction when cooking,” shares Caroline Solomon. “Only keep your most frequently used utensils out in a crock; the other eight wooden spoons and whisks can be tucked away in a nearby drawer (and toss any spoons that are splintered or whisks that are no longer…’whisky’).”

Starting the year off by touring the homes (and drawers, pantries, closets, and more behind-the-scenes spots) of professional organizers, small space dwellers, and other design experts has become a tradition on Apartment Therapy. After all, how your home functions is just as important as how it looks, and I personally never tire of seeing how the pros organize their spaces. You can find great home tours and even greater organizing advice from this year’s fresh crop of inspiration (and catch up on last year’s tours) all on this one page: Professional Organizer Home Advice.