The Best Time to Clean Your Pantry
Winter is one of the best times of the year to clean your pantry! Once the spring season gets underway, it can be difficult to find time to do a deep cleaning in your pantry.
So why not get your pantry cleaned out in winter? You’ll have the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ area of your home cleaned before the real spring cleaning season begins!
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Not that into cleaning out your pantry during the winter? Here are some reasons I like to tackle this chore while the snow falls…
Why Winter is a Great Time to Clean the Pantry
- Take stock of what you use most after the holiday rush
- Helps with planning garden before seeds are ordered
- Check for mouse droppings when they seek shelter indoors
- Less work to do outside means more time to organize
- Deep clean freezer during cold weather
- Get a head start on spring cleaning
- Restock during winter sales
- New Year gives us a fresh start
One of the best reasons to clean your pantry in winter is that you’ll get a better idea of your garden needs for spring. The Family Garden Plan by Melissa Norris is a great gardening book with a section dedicated to planning your garden based on what you eat!
Are you going through spaghetti sauce like crazy? Is your home-canned applesace already gone? Maybe you didn’t plant enough beans or peas to last the year. Now is the time to take stock of your home-preserved foods, work on your garden plans, and order extra seeds for your favorites!
Winter is also the worst time of year for rodent problems. Mice like to come in from the cold and start foraging in your dried goods! If you find mouse droppings or moths in your cupboards or pantry, take action! Place traps in your pantry and check them often. Make sure all of your foods are in pest-proof containers to prevent waste.
How to Clean Your Pantry for Best Results
Maybe this seems like a no-brainer. However, I’ve learned a few tricks over the year and maybe you’ll have some to add!
- Pull EVERYTHING out of your pantry or cupboard
- Use clean boxes or bins to hold your pantry goods
- Wipe down the walls and shelves with vinegar and water
- Replace old shelf-liner paper if needed
- Add shelves, bins, or organizers if needed
- Wipe off boxes, jars, and cans of food
- Throw away food that is expired, rancid, or unwanted
- Check dried goods for pantry moths and flour beetles (toss!)
- Make sure food is labeled with contents and date
- Place food on shelves with the oldest units in front
- Organize goods for easy access
- Jot down which foods aren’t used quickly and which run out
- Place dried goods into pest-proof containers
Cleaning The Freezer and Refrigerator
Now that your cupboards and pantry are in good order, it’s time to tackle your fridge and freezer! Hopefully you do this on a somewhat regular basis anyway, but this is a great time to do a deep-clean!
Try to start this before you go to the grocery store so you won’t have as much food to stash while you clean!
When the weather is cold you can box up all of your perishable foods and set them in a protected spot while you defrost and clean your appliances. Organize your foods into categories as you pull them out: meat, fruit, veggies, ice cream, frozen dinners, etc. Large coolers are perfect for stashing food while you scrub.
If you need to defrost, unplug your appliance and strategically place trays to catch the melting ice. Be sure to protect your floors! If possible, consider upgrading to a new Energy Star model soon so you can skip the defrosting task.
Wipe down the interior of your appliance with a mild vinegar-water solution. Lift shelves and clean under them too. Use a soft, damp cloth to clean the seal around the door and check for damage. Pull your freezer or fridge away from the wall and vacuum the coils and the floor. Give the floor a thorough cleaning with vinegar water.
Now move your appliance back into place, plug it in, and let it start chilling. As the temperature drops, you can start putting your food back in. Be sure to organize everything for easy access and toss any freezer burned or old foods.
Clean Your Pantry & Make Handy Notes
Deep cleaning your pantry, cupboards, freezer, and refrigerator is a great way to take stock of what you use a lot, a little, or not much. Make notes to yourself on foods that you can stock up on during sales, grow more of in your garden, or what you could stop planting or buying because it goes to waste.
Consider making a meal plan that will help use up older foods. Look for recipes for mason jar mixes, soup mixes, trail mixes, or spice mixes that use products that are plentiful in your pantry. These easy make-ahead mixes may be just the ticket to putting food to good use! Make bone broth, veggie stock, or stew with foods that need to be used up. Find out how to make jam from frozen fruit!
Start a list of foods that go quickly and see if you can order these from a buying club to save money. Consider making your own baking powder, cake flour, and self-rising flour. You might also like to do more Baking from Scratch to make good use of your baking supplies. Did you find some garlic in a garlic keeper in your pantry? Find out How to Preserve Garlic too!
One more tip to help prevent waste is to feed freezer-burned meats, fruits and veggies to your chickens. They will also be happy to eat any rolled oats or other grains that have been ruined by moths. Do not give them dried beans, however, as these may contain toxins.
I hope you found these tips helpful! Leave a comment!