Just because you’re not a chef doesn’t mean you can’t have a kitchen that passes a culinary professional’s inspection. With so many tools and gadgets on the market, it’s easy for your cupboards and countertops to be more crowded than ever. Chances are, you’re holding onto something you either don’t need or is actually hazardous to your health.
So I reached out to Sohui Kim, chef and owner of Insa in Brooklyn, New York, to get the rundown on what to toss first. From dirty sponges to unnecessary appliances, here’s what she’d remove from the kitchen, every time.
That gross kitchen sponge
Be honest: How often do you replace your kitchen sponge? If you answered “every few months,” then you’re spreading more bacteria than soap suds on those dishes. A dirty sponge is “a germ fest,” warns Kim. The reality is you should replace your sponge every few weeks and clean it regularly with hot water and bleach in between.
Bottom line: “Toss it if it has any odor to it,” Kim adds.
Dull knives make your prep work much harder than it needs to be. Not to mention, they’re a real safety hazard. “It’s more dangerous to work with dull knives,” than with sharp ones, Kim says.
Instead of tossing your dull blades, Kim suggests sharpening them — it’s more efficient, and it will save you money in the long run. “Look into either getting them sharpened or learning to sharpen them yourself,” she adds.
Countertop appliances you don’t use regularly
You may be surprised to learn that the key to a chef-approved kitchen is not having the coolest, fanciest appliances on display. In fact, when it comes to a professional’s space, less is always more. “Clear off the counter and remove all unnecessary appliances that you only use once in a while,” Kim recommends. “A clear space to work in the kitchen is key.”
Peeling non-stick pans
Non-stick pans are both easy to use and relatively inexpensive, and ultimately, they make cleaning a breeze — until the non-stick coating starts to peel from daily use. And there’s nothing more unsightly, or dangerous, in a kitchen than a pan that looks like it’s had one too many run-ins with a scouring pad. “Anytime the surface of a pan is peeling, it is hazardous,” Kim warns.
So Kim recommends getting rid of that old, peeling pan and replacing it with a cast iron or a ceramic-coated pan instead. I know the idea of owning a cast iron skillet might seem intimidating, but they actually require less maintenance than you think. (Just don’t soak it!)
Dull and unclean can openers
Ultimately, your kitchen tools are just that: efficient devices that help make your life easier. If you have a tool that’s not doing the job on the first try, then perhaps it’s time to throw it in the bin. “We all have that one can opener that’s a little too dirty and doesn’t really do the job of opening up those cans when we need them,” Kim says. “Toss and replace!”