12 Things to Toss From Your Kitchen ASAP

These items are either unsafe or unnecessary—and are taking up precious storage space in your kitchen.

In many of our homes, the kitchen  is the room that sees the most activity, which is why it’s one of the most challenging spaces to keep tidy. And with its assortment of cabinets, drawers, and shelves, it is easy to forget about infrequently used ingredients or to find a place to stash items you aren’t quite ready to discard. If this sounds anything like the current state of your kitchen, don’t let another day of hidden kitchen chaos go by. Roll up your sleeves, crack open your cabinets, and toss these everyday items that you no longer need.

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Damaged Nonstick Cookware

For years, there has been debate about the safety of nonstick chemicals (like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS) used in cookware. These manmade chemicals can leach into your food while cooking, causing exposure and the risk of developing various health issues down the line.1 While using cookware that is PFAS-free, like stainless steel and cast iron, is safe, using damaged nonstick cookware that is made with PFAS of any kind is a no-go. “Damaged nonstick cookware can release ‘forever chemicals’ which have been linked to serious health risks,” says Katie Berry, residential cleaning expert. If you have damaged nonstick cookware lying around, toss it.

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Broken Mugs and Chipped Glassware

Damaged mugs and glasses aren’t chic and may even pose a hazard. “A cracked mug is an accident waiting to happen since heat can finish breaking it apart while you’re mid-sip,” says Berry. “And chipped glasses can injure your mouth.” Recycle damaged mugs and glassware and replace them if need be. If you’re on a budget, consider using affordable and super cute mason jars for drinking glasses.

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Mismatched, Cracked, or Excess Food Containers

Almost everyone has a cabinet filled with food storage containers, and they are often one of the greatest sources of kitchen chaos. “Assess plastic ware, especially containers (like takeout containers) you have been reusing,” says Mary Gagliardi, aka “Dr. Laundry,” Clorox’s in-house scientist and cleaning expert. “Discard any that are cracked or are missing pieces. If you simply have too many, donate what you don’t need to a local classroom for their storage needs, like art supplies.”

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Warped Pots and Pans

Many pots and pans don’t last forever, and after a while, you might notice that some of yours have warped, especially if you put them in the dishwasher. “Warped pans don’t sit flat on the burner, so your food won’t cook evenly,” says Berry. “Fixing them isn’t easy, so if you aren’t handy, just buy a new one.” 

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Stained Linens

If you store table linens in your kitchen, like cloth napkins or tablecloths, it’s easy to forget to assess them if you only pull them out for special occasions. “Don’t forget to evaluate your dish towels, cloth napkins, and tablecloths for stains, and before throwing them out, see if you can restore them,” Gagliardi says. “After getting them clean, decide whether you want to keep them, especially if you have multiple sets, reuse them around the house for cleaning tasks, or donate them.” If they are particularly threadbare and worn out, it may be time to let them go.

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Spoiled Food

Cleaning out your refrigerator is a laborious task, but it’s an essential step in keeping your kitchen in tip-top shape. “Empty the contents of the refrigerator, checking expiration dates and assessing food items for spoilage, especially little used items that you’ve had longer than you realize,” says Gagliardi. “Compost spoiled or expired food, and wash out plastic or glass containers before recycling.”

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Unwanted Nonperishable Food

Sometimes we buy groceries for a recipe we never end up making or we hit a sale just a little too hard. “Expired foods are obvious ones to get rid of, but what about that  can of lima beans you keep pushing to the side because no one in your family will eat them? Donate them to a food pantry or add them to your compost pile,” says Berry.

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Stale Dried Herbs and Spices

For most home cooks, it’s hard to use up an entire container of dried herbs and spices before they expire, especially those used only in specific recipes. Unfortunately, dried herbs and spices only last so long. “If you open the container and don’t get a strong whiff of their scent, your food won’t pick up their taste, either,” says Berry.

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Scratched or Warped Plastic Cutting Boards

If you’ve got bent or severely scratched cutting boards lying around, it’s time to say goodbye. “Warped cutting boards are likely to wobble when you’re cutting things, leading to injury,” says Berry. Using sharp kitchen knives already poses a risk of injury, no need to tempt fate with a warped cutting board. And the same goes for scratched ones. “Scratches in plastic cutting boards trap bacteria that washing doesn’t always remove,” she says. Cutting boards are a key kitchen tool, so be sure to use one that is safe on all fronts and toss any that aren’t. (Consider moving a scratched cutting board to your craft supplies to use as a paper cutting mat.)

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Split or Fraying Wooden Utensils

Wooden cooking utensils are great for use across all different types of cookware, but once they start to split and fray, it’s time to swap them out for new ones. “Those cracks and fuzzy fibers are bacterial landmines,” says Berry. Alternatively, you can use silicone tools, which are just as versatile and not prone to splitting.

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Empty Jars

It’s a noble, sustainable effort to clean out and hang onto glass jars after consuming their contents, but you likely don’t need all of the jars you’ve saved from landfills. You may be able to repurpose them, but “you can also donate or recycle any empty jam jars you have saved for reuse that have accumulated,” says Gagliardi.

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Unused Kitchen Items

Even kitchen items in great condition make for clutter if they’re not being used. Gagliardi recommends that you open your cabinets and drawers, “empty the contents, and donate items you aren’t using or have duplicates of, like cheese knives,” she says. “Tools that don’t work well anymore, like a worn-out can opener or a vegetable peeler, can be discarded.”

Berry recommends donating anything you don’t use at least once a year. “The things in your kitchen should earn their keep. If they aren’t useful, you don’t need them,” Berry says.