I’m going to start out this post with a full disclosure: I am not an expert at kitchen cleaning, nor is my kitchen perfectly sparkling clean at every moment. I cook 3 meals a day, work part-time, and take care of 2 small children simultaneously. Things can get pretty crazy, and sometimes it just isn’t possible to get to the dishes immediately. And, I’ll admit it: I’m a messy cook.
I’ve actually had a long history of messy cooking. As a teen, I would whirl through the kitchen like a tornado when I baked something. My sisters would complain about the mess I would leave in my wake.
When I got married, to my surprise, I found that my husband placed an emphasis on keeping a clean kitchen. This perplexed me at first, but over the years I’ve come to see the benefits of a tidy kitchen. I only wish I could have appreciated this lesson sooner.
So remember that this post is from one recovering messy cook to another! I think of these tips as hacks to force us messy cooks to be more orderly.
Also, before we begin, let’s keep it real: sometimes my kitchen looks like this. Usually it’s after a weekend when we’re gone for most of the day and I have no time for maintenance. This is a lovely sight to wake up to on a Monday.
On to the tips!
1 - Keep it minimal
A few years ago, my counters were lined end to end with appliances, jars, utensils, etc. I was perfectly content with that, and felt that my kitchen was tidy.
Someone commented on my blog mentioning that I had SO much stuff on my counters. I didn’t think much of it because I liked my stuff displayed and within easy reach. Then I read an article about how it’s much better to put everything away in a cupboard so your counters are completely clear. That sounded extreme to me. Besides, there was NO way I could fit everything on my counters into my cupboards.
But then I tried it. And it was heavenly.
Without a bunch of junk cluttering up your counters, you have so much more room for prep work. Plus you’re more motivated to actually wipe down your counters if you don’t have to move everything first. And if anything is out of place, it’s super obvious.
I know this isn’t for everyone, but the more things you can put away in your cupboards, the better. If you don’t have room in your cupboards, throw out, donate, or sell things that you never use.
I personally like to keep out appliances that we use every day (for example, we usually use our blender 1-2 times a day), or ones that are so heavy that it would be a major pain to haul out when I need it (like my stand mixer). I also like to keep my cooking utensils (spatulas, whisks, spoons, tongs, etc.) out on my counter because there just isn’t a good spot for them in my cupboards.
Find what works for you!
2 - Start with a clean kitchen
If at all possible, don’t start cooking until your kitchen is relatively clean. If you start cooking and your kitchen is already a disaster, you’ll just get depressed and throw up your hands in despair after cooking a meal.
If you start with a clean slate, you’ll be more motivated to keep it clean.
3 - Clean while you wait
If you find yourself with some free time in the kitchen, use it wisely! For example, if you’re waiting for a pot of water to come to a boil, instead of standing around, do a bit of cleaning. Start unloading the dishwasher. Put away cooking utensils that you’re done using. Wipe down the counters. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done during the in-between times of cooking.
4 - Let the water out of the sink right away
I know this sounds super basic, but it really makes a difference. It’s so gross when I forget to let the water out, and have to stick my hands in cold, greasy water. If you do it right after you wash dishes, it’s way easier to wipe out the sink. Which brings me to my next tip …
5 - Wipe out the sink after washing dishes
I know it’s super gross, but I used to leave all the little chunks of food from washing dishes in the sink when I was done. If you take 2 minutes to dump out the food scraps and wipe down the surfaces, your sink will be ready to go the next time you need to wash dishes. #worthit
6 - Clean up spills ASAP
This is another one that we all know we should do, but neglect when we are in a hurry. The reality is, if you get to a spill as soon as possible, it will be so much easier to clean up. Dried-on gunk has to be soaked or scraped first, when it could have been cleaned up with a simple wipe.
7 - Clean as you go
Along those same lines, it’s a good idea to put things away as you go when you cook (my mom tried to teach me this one). Instead of leaving everything out on your counter, put things away as you use them.
Now, if you’re really in a rush to get something in the oven, it can be handy to mix it together as fast as you can, and clean up the mess while it bakes. Just make sure you actually do clean up after yourself…
8 - Have a compost/trash bowl
Instead of throwing your food scraps onto the counter, it’s much more efficient to place them in a dedicated compost bowl. This way you don’t have to wipe up the food juice, and you can quickly dump the scraps all at once. You can even peel carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, etc. directly into the bowl to save time.
9 - A place for everything
Have a place for everything, and everyth–you know what I mean!
Instead of having things scattered here and there about your kitchen, it’s much better to have similar things all in one spot. For example, I have a large plate on which I keep all of my non-refrigerated fruit. I also like to keep all of my cooking utensils on one end of my kitchen. That gives me a long expanse of counter with nothing on it. Glorious!
10 - Have set days and times for doing things
I have found that forgetfulness is one of my main reasons for not getting certain chores done. When you have set days for doing certain things, it’s much easier to actually remember to do them!
For example, my stove used to get so grimy because I never remembered to wipe it down. Now that I have a set day for doing it, it’s much more likely to get done. I don’t always get to it on exactly the right day, but just knowing that it needs to be done once a week really helps.
You can also have certain times of the day for specific chores. For example, I like to unload the dishwasher after breakfast. That way, it’s ready to be filled throughout the day. And I like to wash dishes right after supper whenever possible. Then I can wake up to a clean kitchen!
So there you have it: my favorite tips for keeping your kitchen clean. I hope these inspired you to make the effort to keep your kitchen neat and tidy.
If you have any tips of your own, make sure to leave them in the comments!
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