Saving Money by Cleaning Cupboards, Closets, and Cabinets

by Shelly Burke


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My husband and kids were out of town several weeks ago, and I took two days to clean every cupboard and closet in our home, as well as the freezer. Every time I opened a door, it seemed that boxes or bottles fell out, and I couldn't find anything I was looking for!

As I was sorting, cleaning, throwing away (nine garbage bags full) and organizing, I realized that messy closets and cupboards had more consequences than just frustration and potential injuries from falling items.

The Cost of Disorganization

  • We had too many "extras"! I found several packages of batteries (in the laundry room closet), three loaves of holiday cocktail bread for fancy appetizers (in the freezer), and many bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion in the bathroom cabinets. The extras were all bought because I couldn't find the ones I'd originally purchased. Although I will use these items someday, I spent money that could have been spent on other things, and the cocktail bread was freezer-burnt beyond use.

  • In almost every cupboard and closet that I cleaned, I found partially full bottles or boxes of food, shampoo, Parmesan cheese, etc. Obviously, four or five partially full containers take up a lot more space than one full container! I combined the like products, and the empty containers accounted for several garbage bags full of waste.

  • There were potential safety issues. I found several packages of expired medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. Not only will expired medicine fail to give the desired effect, but it can also cause undesired effects. Old makeup can hold infection-causing bacteria; old lotion can separate and be unusable. I also found boxes of very old and long-expired food, which might have been "just" stale. However, I didn't want to risk it being full of bugs or spoiled to the point of being a health hazard. These items accounted for a few more bags full of garbage.

After two days of cleaning closets and cupboards, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. Every time I walked by a cupboard or closet, I opened it to gaze at what I'd done. When my family got home, I made them look as well, and they were impressed!

Benefits of Organized Closets and Cupboards

  • With a place for everything and everything in its place, I can clearly see how much soap, tomato sauce, laundry detergent, and first aid cream I have. When I make my shopping list, I can see what I need and know I won't be purchasing anything unnecessarily. It's also much easier to plan meals when all food items are organized and I can clearly see how much of everything we have. Obviously, this saves money.

  • I also save time by not having to push things aside, take them out, or try to fit them back in after they fall out when I open a door. I didn't realize how much time I wasted until now.

  • There's no more waste! I can easily rotate food so it doesn't get old (putting new purchases in back of products that are already in the cupboard) and check expiration dates on medications. This is another money saver.

  • I "found" some items and ingredients I'd forgotten I had! It was a thrill (I'm easy to thrill!) to find "new" lotion and makeup that had gotten pushed to the back of the cabinet. I also found unusual ingredients I'd purchased for recipes I wanted to try and now can when I find the recipe, which is my next organizing project.

All in all, I have an increased sense of control over my home, my time, and my finances. The benefits are well worth the time and effort it took to clean and organize those closets, cupboards, and cabinets!


Shelly Burke, RN, is the author of Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home and What Should I Say? The Right (and Wrong!) Words and Deeds for Life's Sticky, Tricky, Uncomfortable Situations. She recently completed a goal workbook, Make it Happen! Your Guide to Setting and Reaching Goals that Will Change Your Life! For more information or to read excerpts, go to www.shellyburke.net.

Take the Next Step

  • Organize your cupboards, cabinets, and closets! If you don't have an extended period of time to do several or all of them at once, start small with a small closet or even a single shelf. You will reap the benefits of every bit of work you do, and as you experience the benefits or organization, you'll be motivated to do more!

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