Clean Kitchen

A messy kitchen often leads to a messy life. As with cleaning the rest of your house (check out “Clean your house like a professional”) kitchen cleaning is completed much more quickly with a plan. When we are faced with kitchen cupboards that look like this:

Sometimes I feel blinded:
Living thisn way need not be our destiny, with a bit of thought, planning, and practice our clean kitchens will bring us peace.
Rule # 1 when looking to clean (AND MAINTAIN) a space is to declutter. Keep counter tops clear of ‘stuff’. Especially things that are not useful. The kitchen counter is not the place to showcase your favorite knickknack.
Rule # 2 is to follow the ‘plan’ (listed below). By taking care of things in groups you can minimize the amount of time you spend going to and from the trash, the sink, the fridge, etc. Time adds up quickly and there is no need to turn a 15 minute project into a 30 minute headache.
Before you begin, establish a ‘place’ for everything.
  • Food Scraps: I have chickens so I keep all of my table scraps in a compost pot or bowl (one that is already dirty).  Your food may go in the trash or in a garbage disposal.
  • Trash: Of course trash goes in a trash can, eventually! But, consider having a temporary trash container very close by. Each night when I begin cooking dinner I get out a clean produce bag and place it on the counter. This makes it a breeze to throw my trash away WHILE I am cooking, leaving me less mess to clean up at the end. I also like having a bag to tie up my ‘smelly’ trash like onion peels, this keeps my real trash can from stinking so bad.
  • Dishes: Hand washing and loading the dishes in the dishwasher is part of the clean kitchen plan but prior to this step the dishes should have a home. The obvious choice here is the sink. Make a habit to place dishes in their home every chance you get.

Following is my “Clean Kitchen” plan. Keep in mind I only follow this plan once a day (after dinner). I don’t have the time, energy, or desire to spit shine my kitchen after each meal so it only gets done ‘right’ once. That being said, I can’t stand to fix dinner in a mess nor do I enjoy living my day with a dirty kitchen so throughout the day I do a shortened version of the Clean Kitchen plan which includes 5 minutes of: putting food away, cleaning up trash, placing dishes in the sink, and quickly wiping up anything that may be extra sticky (syrup and oatmeal!).

The Clean Kitchen Plan
  1. Start with a messy kitchen (this is the easiest part!)

(Messy Kitchen)

2. Put away all food. Gather all items that need to be refrigerated, then all items that go in the pantry (can you do it making only one trip?). All things edible are gone.

(Messy Kitchen Minus Food)

3. Throw out all trash. Here is where I like to continue filling up my little produce bag, tie it in a knot and send it to the big trash with one of the kids (husbands work well too).
(Messy Kitchen Minus Trash)
4. Wash dishes. Load the dishwasher to capacity then wash remaining dishes by hand in a sink of hot soapy water.
(Messy Kitchen Minus Dishes)

5. Remove EVERYTHING that does not permanently belong on the counter tops. Milk jugs, go outside, chicken food goes to the coop, appliances belong in the cupboard, etc.

6. Using hot, soapy water wash off all kitchen surfaces, including range top. End with wiping out the sink. Drain the water.
(Clean Kitchen Minus Mess)
7. Finish by touching up the floor and turning on a candle or use some other form of air freshener. No point in having a clean kitchen if it stinks.
TaaDaa! A place for everything and everything in its place.
Finally, to answer the questions I know you are asking yourself.
Why clean up like items with like items? Picking things up by category will force you to quickly scan the mess to locate items that belong near each other. Using your arms at full capacity when making a trip to the pantry will greatly speed things up.
Why clean food – trash – dishes – wiping? Maybe your life is like mine and interruptions happen regularly. When I set out to clean the kitchen I fully realize that I may or may NOT have the time to finish the job. Because of this I suggest taking care of the most important things first. The food should be taken care of first so as to avoid spoiling; the trash second to avoid stinking, etc. If something pulls me away from my clean kitchen project at least I will have the food put away.
 What clean kitchen tips do you practice?
How do you get your kids to help out?
What is your biggest kitchen pet peeve?