Make your kitchen magnetic

When talking about kitchen magnets, most people think of those plastic alphabets we had when we were kids. But magnets can do more in your kitchen than spell “dog” and “cat.” Magnets, when used wisely, can help you free up valuable counter space, and keep all your most used kitchen tools close at hand.

Spice it up

One of the most common magnetic tool these days are magnetic spice tins, which are simply metal or plastic containers with clear lids. Some come with a special board that sits on your counter or attaches to the wall (like these), but you can also buy them individually and stick them to the side of your fridge. Some spice enthusiasts eschew these because they let light in which can damage delicate herbs, so pick a metal surface that doesn’t sit in direct light. Alternatively, choose these spice containers that come with labels which cover the transparent lid.

Wipe it up

Also very handy – a magnetic paper towel holder. If you don’t have much counter space, one of those freestanding ones can be a hassle. But with a magnet, it’s right on your fridge door, and you can just tear one off when your milk spills.

Hang it up

Next time you’re at the hardware store, see if they have inexpensive magnetic hooks. They are perfect for hanging spoons next to the stove or keeping potholders out where you need them. Hooks are one way to get commonly used items out of drawers and within easy reach.

Cut it up

My absolute favorite – a magnetic knife rack. Knife blocks are huge counter space hogs, and keeping sharp pointy things in a drawer can be dangerous for the clumsy-inclined like me. With a magnetic strip, the knives are always handy and out of the way. The magnets are powerful enough to resist a slight bump of the elbow, but pull off without too much force.

The only thing with magnets is that you’re somewhat limited by the number of metal surfaces you have in the kitchen. If you want to add more, try getting a few extra knife racks, or a magnetic memo  strip that can be mounted to the backsplash or any other wall in your kitchen.

What else do you hang in your kitchen?


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

27 Comments for “Make your kitchen magnetic”

  1. posted by Fit Bottomed Girls on

    I have a magnetic towel holder and I love it. The magnetic spice tins look cool, too. I have a smaller kitchen so the more places I have to store things in an organized way the better!

  2. posted by Johnny on

    We got some magnaracks (magnetic mini shelves) that we stuck on our fridge. Our kitchen is really small, so every little bit of extra storage helps.

  3. posted by Karyn on

    No magnetic surfaces besides the fridge here, but my stove is surrounded by brick, and the previous owners left lots of hooks and nails in the brick. I found that all my pans fit beautifully, hung on one side of the “hearth”. I also hang my oven mitts from some of the hooks.

    I believe you can find magnetic spice jars without the see through tops.

  4. posted by Steph on

    I have a large pantry, so I covered one wall with peg board, and bought a bunch of hooks so I can hang all my pots and pans up.

  5. posted by Kate on

    I love our magnetic paper towel rack, but my husband despises it because he always tries to pull the towel too hard and ends up pulling the towel rack off of the fridge. I think it’s not that hard if you’re careful, but just thought I’d send out a word of warning.

  6. posted by savia on

    It’s not magnetic, but I have some racks that I got from Ikea to hang up the lids of my pots. It’s great, because they look so neat and, dare I say, fashionable hanging on my wall, and they don’t get in the way in my pot cupboard anymore.

  7. posted by [email protected] Awareness * Connection on

    I am a cook from way back, and my knives are something I invested quite a bit in, and they’ve served me well, many of them for a couple of decades.So have a magnetic knife rack…but not on my wall. I love them as far as functionality, but I’ve only lived in few place where they would fit it well. And we just put in a new tile backsplash that I don’t have any intention of drilling into.

    I’ve always thought those little magnet spice holders were very cook and the look handy. Everywhere I’ve come across them though they’ve been expensive enough that I haven’t thought them worth it. Instead I use the stair step spice racks, which I think are worth every penny. I’ve got some bigger ones for canned goods too.

  8. posted by Scott on

    Don’t forget that magnetic paint is also available. I have never used it and cannot comment on how strong (or not) it might be.

  9. posted by brandy on

    Ah, I’ve been having trouble finding a place to put my potholders–magnetic hooks are a great solution!

  10. posted by infmom on

    I bought some wide clips that have magnets, and some of those plastic envelopes with the string ties. Clipped to the fridge and to the metal freestanding cabinet next to it, they hold restaurant coupons and a collection of “things it would be neat to go try someday” that I’ve cut out of newspapers and magazines.

    We use those clips in the office, too, where we have a magnetic whiteboard.

    And we have two magnetic knife holders in the kitchen, for the knives that don’t fit in the wooden blocks.

  11. posted by Claire on

    Thanks for all the great suggestions!

    Scott – magnetic paint? That’s awesome! I will have to try it out.
    Michael – the step racks are nice – though I prefer lazy susans to more easily get to the back of the cupboard.
    savia – I have those too – they are great, aren’t they? Anything to free up cupboard space.
    Kate – that happens to me sometimes too. Not perfect, but an improvement.
    Steph – how great – that’s on my “someday” list.
    Johnny – those sound good too. I’ll have to keep an eye out for them.
    Karyn – what a great use of space! And I’m sure the pots look beautiful all hung up.

  12. posted by Karen on

    I use the magnetic spice tins for loose tea. Each one holds just enough for a few cups of tea. About once a week, I refill them from my vacuum sealed tea jars, which keep the tea fresher but are a pain to open and close every day.

    I label my spice jars using round labels (which I print out on my computer) and those round labels are just the right size for the window on the magnetic spice tins – you can label the tin and keep light from getting in at the same time.

  13. posted by [email protected] Awareness * Connection on

    @Scott @ Claire
    We used that magnetic paint on my daughter’s door when she was little. She had some little painted magnetic tiles on there with her name, some with designs and other letters to spell things with. When we’d occasionally have her head to her room for a break for discipline reasons she would sometimes slam the door, which was fine with us. We’re good with protest as long as she made her way to her room. Anyway, you’d hear SLAM pause CLATTER, as all those tiles all fell to the floor. It was pretty funny. I’ll never forget that sound. She gets a kick out of hearing about it now. Too bad we didn’t get video of it.

  14. posted by Pat on

    My fridge is notorious among friends — well, and anyone who’s ever been in my apartment. About 50% of my kitchen is stuck to it, and if it doesn’t come in a magnetic form I glue magnets to it. Spice jars (those exact ones), a paper towel holder, dishcloths, pot holders, a pepper grinder, a pill organizer, a bottle brush, clothespins, chip clips, hooks, clamps, clips, an egg timer, an infrared thermometer, and more.

    On the other side of the fridge there are pens, tins of office supplies, a stapler, a pencil sharpener… well, suffice it to say I have a very small apartment and quite a bit of it is stored vertically and magnetically.

    The front, on the other hand, is quite clean. A pad and pen, a magnetic grocery list, two gift certificates, and a valentine.

  15. posted by Pat on

    Oh, and regarding the knife rack thing. I totally agree about the knife block objections, and add a sanitation one: srsly, a wooden block with deep, hard-to-clean crevices into which we put sometimes-not-entirely-dry objects? When did this become standard food-prep gear? 😛

    But before going out and buying one of those IKEA knife strips, get out a magnet and test your knives to make sure they’re receptive! I think stainless steel formulated with nickel is nonreceptive.

    (break to test)

    It looks like all of my knives right now are receptive, but I *think* I remember having nonreceptive knives in the past.

  16. posted by Erica on

    Hehehe that gave me a good laugh, Pat. Do you have a pic of your magnetic kitchen to share? I would love to see it!

  17. posted by Christian on

    Great tip!
    I saw the knife rack thing at a friend’s house and thought it was a great idea. Can’t wait to order one myself.

  18. posted by JustTheSort on

    Back in the 1970s my mom had magnetic potholders. They were sturdy terrycloth squares with bound (bias tape type) edges. In one corner there was a loop (if you wanted to hang it) but right near that loop was a very strong little rectangular magnet sewn inside the seam under the fabric. You could fling ’em at the fridge (or oven door) and they’d stick. Very handy both from a cook’s point of view and from the perspective of a bored child. (It’s a tool! It’s a toy! It’s both!)

    They were very practical…And no, having them stick to a metal pan as you were removing it from the oven wasn’t really problematic.

    I’ve seen magnetic potholders on craft/DIY websites but haven’t noticed many available from retailers in recent years.

  19. posted by [email protected] Awareness * Connection on

    This is one of the downsides of stainless appliances too, if yearn for Pat’s set up. The stainless sides are not magnetic. I actually am okay with it though as our kitchen benefits from a bit less visual clutter.

    @Pat your fridge sounds like fun.

  20. posted by Tiffany on

    I have the Ikea knife strip (holds my tongs too!) as well as the larger bar parts of that same line that allows me to hang a spice rack, towel holders and a few plastic buckets they sell that are made for the set that house many utensils I don’t like to put into drawers. I love them and swear by them. Be careful with the knife strip though, don’t bang up your blades on them.

    I may making my own spice tins with magnets for my fridge, it would make accessing them a lot easier!

  21. posted by Leslie on

    I love, love, love magnetic hooks! My mom always had them, and my roommate, and then when I was married, I was bereft! I always wondered where to buy them (though obviously I never looked very hard).

    I still have those plastic letter magnets on my fridge – I put them up for my niece when we were baby-sitting, but even my grown up friends play with them when they come over.

  22. posted by Pat on

    @Erica: Coincidentally, I have one online, for a “show me your fridge” contest of sorts:

    This is slightly before the discovery of a bunch of “classic” magnetic hooks (@Leslie — they ARE a bit hard to find!) made it easier to hang stuff like pot holders.

    And for good measure, here’s a picture of the homemade magnetic poetry that used to decorate the front:

    (The language is Quechua, for anyone who’s wondering.)

  23. posted by Pat on

    @JustTheSort: Oxo makes magnetic potholders now. I ran into them this summer:

  24. posted by Vero Pepperrell on

    Absolutely loved having a magnetic knife rack in the past, but we got two absolutely adorable kittens and had to take the knife rack down for safety (even though we actively discourage the cats from going on the kitchen counters!)

    Also useful in a small kitchen are hooks in the underside of cupboard shelves to use up the space between the high shelves and the stacked up plates. Hang tea mugs and keep them out of the way.

  25. posted by amphora on

    These are great suggestions if you own, (like I do) a large stainless steel BBQ. The magnetic paper towel holder is great not just for BBQ messes but to have on hand whenever I’m in the backyard with the kids. Beats running back into the house to find something to clean up spilled juice!

  26. posted by Linda on

    New apartment kitchen with room for magnetic knife bar (IKEA). Have space on the bar for a slogan pin “Never postpone Joie”. (Removed the pin part) Now the pin serves as a note holder for printed recipes. Very handy.

  27. posted by SkiptheBS on

    Keep your eyes peeled for Harbor Freight ads with coupons. Occasionally they feature a free-with-purchase coupon for a magnetic tool strip. Works fine for knives, too.

    I purchased a bunch of neodymium magnets from eBay, cheap. These can be glued onto anything you want to hang up. I remove the stud backs from orphaned earrings and hang up notes, bills, etc with them.

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