10 Things You Shouldn’t Store on the Kitchen Counter

A woman standing next to a kitchen counter

The kitchen may be the heart of the home, but the kitchen counters are the hands. These essential worktops are tasked with holding everything from the kids’ homework to smart speakers to fruit platters. They are the workbenches of American life.

But some tabletop hoarding habits can be impractical at best — and dangerous at worst. If you need to bring sanity to your kitchen counters, keep reading. Here are some of the common items you should find on your countertop.

1. Paper towels and napkins

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According to the American Red Cross, most home fires start in the kitchen. Reduce the risk of a fire by keeping paper towels and napkins off the counter.

Storing paper products off the stove is a great start, but you never know where someone will inadvertently park their toaster, air fryer, or hot plate. The safest bet is to store paper towels under the sink and tissues in the drawer.

See also: How do I make a roll of paper towels that will last all year?

2. Spices and herbs


that it zaatar To rethink spice storage. Although it seems like everyone uses turntable spice racks on the counter, this may not be the best place for them.

Seasonings should be kept away from heat, light, air and moisture, according to the Penn State Extension. Instead of laying on the countertop, store these flavoring essentials in airtight containers in a cupboard or pantry (wise Advice, if you ask me). Tiered spice racks like this model on Amazon will keep everything organized.

3. Cooking oils

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According to the Oregon State University Extension Service, cooking oils should be stored in a cool area that is not exposed to direct light. When stored on a counter or counter, the oils can oxidize more quickly and become rancid.

Instead of on the counter, store bottled oils near the stove but not close enough to get hot when the appliance is on.

4. Fast food

Oreo brand

Seeing is eating. In a moment of hunger, stress or boredom, who can resist the siren song of cookies or chips?

A 2015 Cornell University study linked what’s on people’s pedometers to their total weight and body mass index (BMI). Although the study participants were restricted to women, we can assume that the same applies to men. For example, women who stocked soft drinks on the counter weighed 24-26 pounds more than those who kept sugary drinks out of sight.

5. Electronics

Amazon Echo Plus smart speaker

Alexa can be a lifesaver when you’re trying a new recipe, but don’t set your device too close to the action. Worktops are made for spills and grease splatters – personal electronics don’t.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, handling the appliances during meal preparation may pose a risk of food contamination. We’ve all heard of studies showing that smartphones can be dirtier than a toilet seat. Do you really want that on your countertop?

6. Breakable decor items

A couple in the kitchen
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Watch any home design show and you’ll see kitchen counters laden with unnecessary items like apothecary jars, elaborate floral arrangements, and framed art.

But with all this beauty, who has room to cook? For safety and practicality, resist the temptation to decorate countertops. After all, nothing ruins a great meal like a broken glass.

7. Paperwork

A pensioner checks financial documents in his kitchen
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Kitchen counters often serve as a go-to space for all of your household tasks, art projects, and household bills. But like all paper products, these items can easily ignite when placed near a stove or small appliance.

Fire hazards aside, important documents can be ruined by spills, grease splatters, and the general mess of food preparation. Keep work surfaces clean and papers on a separate desk or work surface.

Pro tip: No room to store papers? Try a “Chinese trick”. Separate all paperwork or kids’ homework into a large, shallow tray with handles. While preparing the meal, simply move the tray around instead of arguing with the messy piles.

8. Cups

mug tree
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What kind of tree does the world need the least? Mug Tree! As charming as they are, mug trees seem designed to collect dust and cooking grease stains. My first instinct is to wash every cup I take from her questionable “twigs.”

Give yourself more room to prepare and one less thing to clean up – store mugs in a cupboard.

9. Hardware is rarely used


In most kitchens, counter space is prime real estate. Do small appliances devour you?

Sure, it makes sense to keep toasters, blenders, juicers, and food processors close at hand. But unless you use these appliances every day or every time you cook, they can live in your closet or pantry.

10. Knives


You’ve probably watched a lot of horror movies, but doesn’t every home intruder reach for the knife block first? Seriously, these massive blocks take up a lot of counter space and don’t seem like the safest option in households with small, spirited children.

Instead of blocks, opt for an in-drawer knife holder like this model from Wayfair.

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