Whether you’re moving into a new house or apartment or just undertaking spring cleaning, one of the spots that often needs the most attention is the kitchen cabinets and drawers. Things get spilled unnoticed or simply never get cleaned up, dust gathers, and a sticky, smelly mess is left for the next inhabitant (or the next person brave enough to clear off the shelves and see what lies under the canned goods).
A simple solution for keeping shelves and drawers clean in kitchens and bathrooms is installing shelf liners. A shelf liner can be as simple as a paper towel tossed in the bottom of a drawer (handy because it’s absorbent, cheap and easy to replace, but not really attractive and it doesn’t stick to the shelf) or as fancy as printed, adhesive-backed paper that coordinates with the colors in your room (a much better, if slightly more expensive and labor-intensive choice).
You can buy rolls of the liner that grips but are non-adhesive, making a non-slip surface for pots and pans, or a similar product designed to allow things like plates and glasses to slide without bunching up the liner.
Non-adhesive liners are great to use on bare wood, painted wood, stained but unvarnished wood, Formica, metal and glass. Use these in places where you might want to remove the liners, or where sticking something to the surface might damage the surface.
These liners should not be used on lacquered or urethaned surfaces, because there are chemicals in the liner that can bond to such surfaces, pulling up the finish when you try to remove them. These liners are easy to clean with soapy water and can be put in the clothes dryer to remove wrinkles (set on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or follow the directions on the package).
The advantage of non-adhesive liners is that they are more durable, easily removable to clean under and can provide a more stable surface for your dishes to sit on. They are more expensive than paper adhesive liners and cannot be used on all surfaces. They are not available in many colors (usually you can find beige, green, light blue and gray) and sometimes do not stay where you want them to when you remove items from the shelf. They also have holes in them, so if you want to line your shelves for ease of cleaning these are not your best bet.
The standard product most people think of when they think of lining shelves is peel and stick adhesive shelf liner. This product comes on rolls of three to six yards, is available in many different colors and styles (including clear), can be purchased almost anywhere, can be used on the same types of surfaces as the non-adhesive as well as those that non-adhesive cannot be used on (polyurethaned and lacquered surfaces) and is much cheaper than the non-adhesive product. It is a little more difficult to install and remove but it is very easy to clean with a damp sponge.
To install whatever type of shelf liners you are using, you will need to cut the pieces down to size. You can either measure all the shelves and drawers you would like to line and do the math to figure out how many yards of lining you need, or just buy a bunch, lay it in the drawer or on the shelf, and trim to fit snuggly.
Do all your cutting of adhesive shelf liner before taking off the peel and stick backing, and be sure to double-check that you have the right sized piece before taking off the backing. Start in the back of the drawer or shelf and press the lining into the corners, smoothing down and out as you move forward. If there is any excess you can trim it because it will be at the front of the shelf.
This is a rather time consuming process. It may take a whole afternoon to line the shelves and drawers of a kitchen. But the ease of cleaning the liners will provide is well worth it.
There are all sorts of ways you can use shelf liners of both types other than the ways they were intended to be used. For example, the non-adhesive, non-skid products can be used to hold many things in place, from the contents of your trunk to the things in your cooler. They can be used to line pet kennels for transporting animals to the veterinarian or be sewn onto the bottom of a toddler’s socks, making him less likely to fall over.
This product grips, so you can keep a piece on hand to help you open bottles and jars. You can put it under your car floor mats or line the bottom of your boat with it. It can be used as a coaster to keep your shampoo bottles from slipping in the shower, and could even line the shower to make a non-slip (but removable) surface for children’s bath time. It can keep a cake or plate of deviled eggs from sliding in the back seat of the car during transport, or stabilize a wobbly sewing machine (or keep the presser foot in place on the floor where you want it).
Adhesive shelf liner can be used to cover light switch covers, making them easier to clean and coordinate with your room decor. The clear liner could be used on the outside of cabinet doors to make them easier to clean, or on the inside of doors, for instance, to tack a list of emergency numbers into the cabinet near the phone. It could be used in lieu of a lint roller, to cover books or even on individual pages of a cookbook you use often to keep ingredients off the pages.
Different colored paper can be used to quickly change the decor in a child’s bedroom, when she suddenly decides she doesn’t like lavender anymore and would prefer dark green, for instance (it’s cheaper and faster than paint). And if you ever need to remove the adhesive liner you can use a hairdryer to soften the adhesive and just peel the liner away (use an adhesive remover, rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover or even WD-40 to remove any excess adhesive. Test a spot before applying any of these to a whole shelf.)