A Short Story
I don’t know about you, but I always feel like the items we tend to keep under the kitchen sink seem to be hard to reach and frequently needed. This problem has bothered me for years.
In our first farmhouse, I remember I kept several things in a cleaning caddy so I could slide them all out when needed. I couldn’t find a picture of the old farmhouse sink below, but I did find a photo from when I painted the kitchen cabinets white & blue. That choice felt like my first brave design choice back way back in early 2013. In fact, it was one of the very first things ever blogged about!
If you’re considering painting older cabinets, you can totally find a better painting tutorial than mine. (Thankfully, so much has changed in blogging DIYS!) Even though it’s all dated & tiny pictures, it still might inspire you! I was a total amateur and we pulled it off. You can too!
I’m so glad I did that, because having a blue and white kitchen for several years gave me the confidence to replicate the same concept in our third home. (We rented in between, but remodeled the third just as we did the first.)
The day that I decided to clean and paint the inside of the metal sink cabinet (it was rusting) on the original farm style sink back in the farmhouse, I actually inhaled so many paint fumes that I got a bloody nose a few hours later. I will never forget that, I was so surprised!
The point is this: I learned in my first and second small kitchens is that everything under the sink has to have a purpose & everything needs to be easy to reach and clean.
So, it’s the start of my third year in my 1,346 home (feels like it) since moving out of my mom’s home in 2009.
At this home, I was shocked by how large the actual sink cabinet was, but I was disappointed by how generally dysfunctional the space was because of the required plumbing.
Even though we enjoyed remodeling this kitchen and we are happy with it today, it’s definitely not a big kitchen. To deal with this factor we installed three on-the-door shelves that do most of the heavy lifting for this awkward, but hardworking, space in our kitchen. (The drawer shown below is a false drawer & doesn’t function.)
A Set of Simple Solutions
When I am shopping I want the items I purchase to be smart, sustainable, and stylish. Smart because we all work with a limited amount of space, time, and money. Sustainable because it’s important that we move the people and places we love, forward and not backward. Stylish because beautiful, thoughtful, tidy spaces are restful and renewing places. There’s no shame in wanting and creating beautiful spaces.
Before we go further, I want to say: Thank you so much for reading & supporting my blog. I love to work from home & be creative and this blog gives me the flexibility to do all of that! In addition to the products I’ve created in my shop, one of the ways that I make an actual income from this blog is by using affiliate links. I choose to partner with brands or share products I enjoy with you. I earn a small commission from them, but it is a no extra cost to you. Win-Win! Anyway, I like to let you know up front so it doesn’t feel like a “hidden surprise” at the end of the post or, worse, not mentioned at all.
I really love this work & I’m delighted to recommend the products I find to you! Thanks so much for using my links & for letting me be your personal shopper.[Now, back to the post!]
You might notice that almost everything on my list came from Amazon or Grove. This is because when I was decorating our home I had multiple tiny kids under the age of 6. So I learned how to shop on Amazon like a NINJA. And, then, eventually, I remembered Grove and decided to send some of our hard earned dollars to them because 1) I like subscriptions 2) they are a b-corp 3) I don’t want to buy everything from mega-retailer Amazon. If you want to learn more about Grove, I made a story on IG about some of the perks. Please read (or skip) my affiliate disclaimer before we continue this under-the-sink-tour-de-tour.
Here’s quick list of every single thing that’s stored under this cabinet + links to purchase the items when possible. Hopefully you think these items live up to my criteria of smart, sustainable and stylish! I’ve listed if it’s the exact same item or similar item. Hopefully this gives you a quick and concise look at what is working for us currently!
- Large dawn bottles to refill the display bottle on the top of the sink (similar)
- Glass Ball Canister to hold pods both via Amazon (exact)
- Basket of Turkish hand towels via Amazon & miscellaneous pretty hand towels (exact)
- Basket of flour sack dish drying towels (similar)
- Fire Extinguisher can (exact)
- Water spray bottle (Lowes)
- Indoor Plant food (similar)
- Collapsable bottle drying rack via Amazon (exact)
- Small watering can via Amazon (similar)
- Left side plastic door shelves via Amazon (similar)
- Right side wire door shelf via Amazon (exact)
- Glad Force Flex Trash bags via Amazon
- Lavender Dish Soap via Grove
- Full circle veggie scrubbing brush via Grove
- Egg scrubbing brush via Grove
- Bottle cleaning brush via Amazon (similar)
- Essential Oil for making sink cleaner + recipe for sink cleaner via Grove
- Stainless Steel Appliance Cleaner & Protectant + 2 Cloths Kit via Grove
- Countertop Cleaner in Lavender + Short-term use biodegradable “rag”
- Gentle Stovetop Cleaner, Barkeepers Friend via Amazon
- Countertop Anti-Bac Cleaner
- Bonus: I got the green Rug via Amazon only about $30!
A tiny bit on “elevating” this space
Although I am content with this space, there is one extra step I’d like to take eventually and that’s simplifying the visual clutter on the two doors. I know this is so *extra* but I also know that it would WORK. If I had an extra $40 laying around, the first thing I would do to simplify this space is to ditch all of these bottles with labels & dump them into bottles without labels.
I haven’t made it that far yet, but it’s in my mind so I wanted to share it with you in case you’re ready to make that jump. Here’s three options I’d consider if I was ready:
I’ve already worked pretty intentionally to remove all excess packaging and excess labeling which quieted down the space immensely. I know this is so over the top, but I don’t care if you think I’m crazy.
Just trust me it works. Can you guess who I learned it from? I bet you can! Marie Kondo. The QUEEN of tidy.
All the Strategies for Under the Sink Items
Okay, now let’s do a dorky deep dive with what is here and why the heck it earned the general honor of taking up space in our small home.
We’ll start from right to left. On the far right side I keep a bottle house plant feed, a collapsable bottle parts/pump parts/sippy cup lids, a spray bottle with water for the cat when he jumps on the counters or bites/claws at the kids. John also got us an emergency fire extinguisher. This reminds me of the farmer in him, they try keep one in most of tractors in case of a tractor fire. So, we need one for the kitchen, too!
Back when we lived at the very first farmhouse, we didn’t have a dishwasher (below). So, I got into the required habit of having hand towels and dish drying towels. We didn’t even have two sinks. Look at the country person #hack for that! The dishwashing TUB. Who knew?! Then the rinse water could drain.
Okay, back on track and off memory lane.
Next up, I have two soft baskets from Dollar General a few years ago that hold all of my dish towels.
I know most people consider them one in the same, but I’ve learned that farm folks have two categories. A dish drying towel is sometimes called a “flour sack” towel because it’s large and thin. In the old days, they were actually made from feed or flour sacks.
One wonderful wedding gift we received was a set of lovely embroidered dish drying towels.
As for hand towels, like most of the decor-focused internet I’m on the Turkish towel kick. They are lovey and absorbent. Plus, the fringe is so pretty when I hang them by the sink. I generally keep a hand towel by the sink and a flour sack dish towel on the handle of the refrigerator. If I’m not actually hand drying dishes, I still use this kind to spread out over the counter to catch the drips on dishes that are air drying.
I think I swap the towels 2-4 times a week. Basically when we make a mess so big it’s time to start over.
Wow! That was a lot of words about towels! But, as a former quilter I have BIG FEELS about cotton fabric & pattern & texture! I’m just passionate about fabric, what can I say?
For years now I have been using the dishwashing pods and I find them way more handy than liquid dish soap. Especially with small kids around. I realize there are some safety concerns with “eating the pods” but its so much quicker and less-messy to drop a pod into the dishwasher door & close it up quickly.
I keep the pods in this large decorative ball container. The lid is very snug and by the time one of our kids is old enough to get that lid off, they are old enough to know not to eat a pod. Only one of my three children took the pod and popped it into their mouth instead of into the dishwasher. I will let that child go unnamed. (Ahem, he or she only did it once.)
The items that I keep in the doors are used almost daily, so I am so glad they are in such an easy to reach spot.
Again, moving from left to right, I use essential oils to make things smell good, a brush for scrubbing veggies/potatoes, salt shaker with homemade sink cleaner, tooth brush for cleaning odds and ends, bottle cleaners for cleaning straws, a different Groove brush & ceramic holder for cleaning Papa’s farm fresh eggs (hello bird poop cannot touch the veggies!!).
On the other door, I keep the main items I use to clean our kitchen. Okay, from left to right, again!
Bottle 1: This is a new to me product. It’s a stainless steel cleaner and protectant. I am really enjoying this, even though the appliances weren’t bothering me too much before I started using it. I really only seem to be using it about 1-2 times per month. It’s not about the finger prints, more about general grime.
Bottle 2: I think I’m probably going to move this one to the bathroom soon when we begin potty training our baby. However, it’s nice to have on hand for when I’ve caught the cat walking on the countertops or some other especially dirty event. Generally, I don’t worry too much about germs so I’m finding that I don’t have to have this one in the kitchen, but it is handy.
Bottle 3: I have no idea how I found this product, but it works to clean our stovetop. I usually wipe all the crumbs into the corner and then use a handheld vacuum to get them off. Then, I put this on the stovetop and rub it around and let it sit and then scrub off all the food. Then, I use a hot wet rag and two rounds of paper towels to get it dry. It’s kind of a process, but if I keep up with it, it’s way easier than getting totally overwhelmed. I generally clean the stovetop 1 time a week, on Wednesday with my current cleaning routine.
Bottle 4 + Short-Term Use Wash Cloth: I generally wipe down the counters several times a day if we are all home with the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day spray. It’s half about the cleaning routine and half about the smell. This is one of my favorite routines of cleaning the kitchen. It signals to me that “I’m done here.”
The room smells good & the counters are clean.
The dishes may not be done, the floors may not be clean, there might not even be any food in the fridge – BUT, I am always mentally closing up shop on this space and moving into a different portion of my life when I use this smell-good counter spray.
This is part of my personal goal to focus on doing what they all tell me to do, but don’t always PRACTICALLY SHOW ME. So here’s me: “calling it good enough” and “letting the rest go.”
I can deal with undone dishes, I can deal with dusty floors, I can deal with granola bars — by my personal rule of thumb is that the counters will be clean & tidy (minus the dirty pile of dishes).
This ritual and bar-lowering may not work for you, but something else similar within the general concept might! This has been a hard-won game changer for me.
I think this brings us to the official end of a very in-depth tour of a small part of a home. I hope this post gives you some ideas for something to add to your sink storage area!
You do you! I’m simply here to provide ideas & solutions for the conundrums that bug us at home sometimes — in this case, wondering what the heck to keep under the sink.
PS: You might be wondering where I keep the rest of my cleaning supplies, and this is a great question! I keep bathroom stuff in each bathroom & anything else in a small cleaning closet with 4 shelves. I don’t like to store excess cleaning supplies, so I’ll be totally honest — I have purged our cleaning supplies heavily twice in the last seven years. If something was sticking around taking up space that I didn’t use I either donated it or threw it away. It’s impossible to find things you love and enjoy if your workflows are all clogged up with items that you hate to use!