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Gert's Dirt: Under the sink organization

Donna Bellino

for the Lake County News-Chronicle

The cabinet under the kitchen sink is the most challenging to keep organized. There is all that plumbing hanging down and that annoying center strip between the doors that gets in the way. Cleaning products you don’t even know you have are way in the back. Many folks keep their garbage can and recycling there too, which adds to the yuckiness (“yuckiness” is an official term in cleaning circles)

I would like to mention that being organized should not be costly. You don’t need any fancy containers or contraptions to store your items neatly. If you want to go buy something fancy, that is fine, too. Just make sure you measure and think carefully before you make a purchase. Otherwise it will just be another item cluttering up your world until you off- load it at the next rummage sale.

Let’s get started with that nasty cabinet.

• Get out your camera and take a “before” picture.

• Get down on the floor and start emptying the cabinet. Everything must come out. You may want to place things on the counter or table if being on the floor is difficult for you. Place similar items together.

• Wash the doors, walls and the floor inside of the cabinet. Don’t forget to wash the pipes and garbage disposal. If you keep your garbage can there, scrub the trash pail inside and out.

• Use a piece of left over vinyl floor covering to cover the bottom of the cabinet and seal its outside edge with duct tape. A few sticky floor tiles are inexpensive, easy to arrange and can be cut to fit. Contact paper is so hard to apply that I really don’t recommend it.

Question: What should you keep under your sink?

Answer: Things you use in the kitchen.

• Fire extinguisher

• Dish washing detergent and additives for the dishwasher

• Garbage bags

• Cleaning products

(limited and to one bottle of each)

• Cleanser

• A spray bottle of vinegar and water

• A supply of gloves

• A small tool box with a little hammer, nails, pliers, a few sizes of screw drivers and WD-40.

• Plant food so you remember to feed your green friends once in a while!

If you keep toxic items like ammonia, oven cleaner, drain opener, turpentine, strippers or anything considered poison, consider a lock for the cabinet door.

At Bellino’s Pad we have an abundance of ice cream pails. I use them to sort the items that accumulate in cupboards. If you have other bins or boxes around, that works too. The cleaning products you have consolidated and chosen to keep can be placed in one of the pails and returned to the cabinet. Now ask yourself: How many products do I have that I don’t use? Get rid of the unused cans and bottles. Dispose of toxic things properly at the recycle center. Give or throw away the rest. How many used grocery bags do you REALLY need? My limit is about six. Recycle or re-use the rest. Pet supplies, electrical cords, painting supplies, seldom used tools, tape, glue, floral vases all need a home. Find them a home and return them to their proper place when you’re finished with them. That way everything stays neat and organized and you can find things when you really need them.

Now, that everything is ship-shape, snap another picture! Your worst cabinet is clean and well organized!

Donna Bellino is a nurse and owner of Gertie’s Cleaning and Home Service. I care for you, your health and your home. Gertie’s: Naturally Clean!