4 Things People With Fresh-Smelling Pantries Always Do When Storing Their Food

Keep your pantry smelling amazing with these top food storage tips from professional organizers

A well-lit pantry
(Image credit: Julian Abrams. Design: Patalab)

Everyone knows the kitchen is the heart of the home — it's the place for cooking delicious meals, hosting lively dinner parties, and catching up with a friend over a much-needed cup of tea. There is, however, one part of the kitchen that's oft-neglected. The pantry is the steadfast storage space for all your food, baking essentials and spices, so why overlook it?

More often than not, the kitchen pantry can develop bad odors or become a home for pesky pests if they're not cleaned and cared for properly. Luckily, we can take advice from those enviable people who always have fresh-smelling pantries, so soon we will too!

1. Declutter and organize

The first step to having a great-smelling pantry is throwing out any food products that might be producing unwanted odors. 'I recommend decluttering and reorganizing your pantry once every quarter just to make sure you don’t have any expired items,' says Alessandro Gazzo, professional cleaner at Emily's Maids. This will also help you stay on top of your pantry shelving organization and prevent any out-of-date food from piling up and cluttering your space, too.

'Pay attention to fresh ingredients,' adds professional organizer and founder of Di Is Organized Di Ter Avest. 'If you store items like onions, potatoes, and tomatoes in your pantry, check the area regularly to ensure nothing is going bad. This storage space should be clean and dry. Other fruits and vegetables stored at room temperature should also be in a dry, cool, well-ventilated space.'

2. Use airtight containers

Add some interest to your pantry by giving some thought to your doors

(Image credit: Pluck)

Keeping your food in airtight containers not only keeps it fresher for longer— it looks organized and keeps your pantry smelling good too. 'You can put items that tend to create smells in airtight storage solutions,' says professional organizer Ben Soreff. This includes dry goods such as flour, rice, pasta and sugar and stronger-smelling foods like dried fruits. The best food storage containers will be airtight to help keep moisture and pests out, and any odors in, preventing unnecessary food waste and ensuring your pantry stays fresh.

3. Use a natural deodorizer

A pantry with wooden doors

(Image credit: Bradley VanDerStraeten)

One thing that people with nice-smelling kitchens do is use a natural deodorizer to keep your pantry smelling fresh while also keeping pests at bay. There are loads of options out there such as herb sachets, cinnamon sticks, and peppermint oil— just make sure you choose a scent that you like!

'You can create personalized spice sachets using your favorite aromatic spices like cinnamon, cloves, or cardamom,' says Di. 'Fill small cloth bags with these spices and place them on pantry shelves. These sachets add a delightful fragrance and deter pests with their natural repellent properties.'

Using natural odor absorbers is also an effective way to freshen up your pantry. 'You can invest in either charcoal or baking soda-based odor-absorbing systems,' says Ben. 'I suggest using products with neutral or no scents as you don't want a strong smell to be near food.' 

Coffee grounds also work well, and are a sustainable way to reuse the waste from your morning cup of coffee. 'If you want to absorb odors, place a cheesecloth bag half filled with coffee grounds in your pantry,' says Alessandro.

4. Clean regularly

Small pantry by Neptune

(Image credit: Neptune)

Adding another weekly chore to the kitchen cleaning schedule is never at the top of anyone's priorities, but regularly cleaning your pantry is an effective way to keep it smelling fresh and looking beautiful.

Alessandro suggests using oxygen-based bleaches, such as OxiClean. 'Add ½ tbsp to a cup of water, wait until it stops fizzing and then pour into a spray bottle,' she says. 'Then, apply it to the surface, just barely so that it reaches the surface but without soaking or damping your shelves.' If you would rather not use chemicals, wiping down your pantry with a mixture of vinegar and water will also neutralize any unwanted odors, and don't worry, the scent of vinegar won't stick around! 

Now we're armed with all the info on how to achieve a fresh-smelling pantry, it's time to declutter, clean, and organize!

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Ottilie Blackhall
Trainee Writer

Ottilie Blackhall is a master’s Magazine Journalism student at City, University of London. After graduating from the University of Edinburgh, with a degree in English Literature and History of Art, she decided to pursue her love of writing and develop her passion for writing about literature and art. Having started a book review blog during lockdown, at City she is working on her portfolio.