While the kitchen is the heart and hub of the home, it can also be the hardest room to maintain. These simple, but practical tips will help you keep your kitchen cleaner and more organized.
When my husband and I were first married and it was just the two of us in our new home, maintaining the kitchen was fairly simple. It was pretty much always clean and uncluttered.
Then we had kids.
And I quickly realized that in a busy household with children, a clean, uncluttered kitchen is as rare as a buy one, get one sale on organic produce.
In fact, I started to dream about how blissful it would be to have my own “Alice”, the iconic loyal and duteous television sitcom housekeeper, to help me in the kitchen.
But, alas. No Alice, nor fairy godmother, nor magical house elf has ever shown up to lend a hand.
And I’m guessing that that hasn’t happened for you either. So I’m going to share some tips to help you keep your kitchen under control. Yes, even without the help of the aforementioned fictional characters.
1) GET RID OF THINGS YOU DON’T USE
The fewer “things” you have in your kitchen, the easier it will be to maintain.
Extra serving pieces, mismatched flatware, or the bread machine you purchased right before deciding to go gluten-free. Anything in your kitchen that is not serving you and your family, just let it go.
Even if something was pricey to begin with, if it’s not being used then it’s probably not worth the real estate it inhabits.
2) HAVE KITCHEN RULES
And make sure that everyone follows them.
Here are a few of ours.
- If you cook outside of regular meal times, you are responsible for cleaning up.
- Wipe up spills, crumbs, and other disasters.
- Use your personal coaster for your water glass during the day. (this helps to eliminate dirty glass demolition derby)
- If you use a non-dishwasher safe dish, wash it. Yourself. Right away.
3) FOLLOW A DAILY KITCHEN ROUTINE
Dirty dishes pile up crrraaazy fast around here.
By unloading the dishwasher each morning, I have a place to put said dishes as we use them. Then my counters stay clear (somewhat anyway, if I’m being real here) and I can finish loading the dishwasher after dinner.
In the evening, I take care of anything that needs to be hand-washed. I leave those things in a dish rack to dry overnight.
Other tasks, like checking the fridge each morning for “aging” leftovers, wiping the counters after meals, and cleaning the sink every night will help to maintain your kitchen.
4) START WITH A CLEAN KITCHEN
If you’re like me, and you can’t function in a dirty kitchen, this is going to be a no-brainer for you.
If not, then you might relate to my daughter, who can come in right behind a meal, before the clean-up has happened, and whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
By the time she is halfway through, you can’t even tell where one mess stops and the other starts! Drives me a little crazy. (a lot actually)
At that point the mess is so far past manageable that it takes more time and energy to clean everything up.
So, if you want to keep mess to a minimum, start your kitchen endeavors with clear counters and an empty sink. Your later self will thank you.
5) CLEAN AS YOU GO
For some people, this is just another NO-BRAINER.
But not everyone has the intuition to do this (a few members of my own household included), so I’m gonna put it out there.
Just clean up the messes as they happen.
If you wipe the kitchen counter after a spill and wash out the blender right away, you’ll SAVE TIME that you would spend later trying to scrape off the counter or soak, wash, soak, wash, soak, wash…the blender.
6) CLEAN WHILE YOU WAIT
If your “dawgs are barking” and the sofa is calling your name, by all means take a break. But, while your oven is working it’s magic on that yummy casserole, it’s good to get in there and clean up the mess!
Even if you are in the habit of “cleaning as you go”, there are probably some things in the kitchen that need to your attention. Might as well make smart use of your time and do it while your food is cooking.
Same goes for boiling water, making toast, cooking pasta…Get in the habit of using that time to catch up and keep up.
7) REDUCE VISUAL CLUTTER
So I’m not going to tell you that you should take everything off of your kitchen counters and stow it away.
But appliances, decorative items, and random papers can take up a HUGE chunk of space on your counter top. They reduce your work space, and can make a kitchen look cluttered and uninviting.
If you can find a place for seldom used appliances (the ones that didn’t make it into the donation box) it can REALLY help things visually and can reclaim precious counter space.
Kitchen decor is nice. But too much can diminish the functionality of your kitchen. So, be very selective about what you choose to display. Only set out things that you truly enjoy.
And then there’s the dreaded PAPER CLUTTER. (Raising hand here because…GUILTY!) You have to handle that monster as soon as it comes in the door, if not before. Have a place for what you need to keep, and banish papers from the kitchen. Forever!
8) DEEP CLEAN SOMETHING EVERY DAY
Each day, I try to give at least one thing in my kitchen a thorough cleaning.
It can be anything. The front of the dishwasher. The toaster oven. Or one of those little thingies from the inside of the refrigerator door.
Other Areas to Deep Clean:
- dusty appliances
- areas behind and under dusty appliances
- toaster oven tray
- microwave plate/splatter cover
- around door frame of dishwasher
- anything in refrigerator
- oven glass
- back splash behind sink
- pantry shelf
- top of refrigerator
9) “SPOT CLEAN” THE KITCHEN FLOOR
When the kids were little and I was in a hurry to get the house presentable (like when “short notice” company was coming) I would hand them wet cloths and tell them to “spot clean” the kitchen floor.
Cleaning up the visible stuff worked so well at making the entire floor look freshly scrubbed that I eventually incorporated it into my kitchen routine.
Often, by the end of the week, the floor has had so much “spot cleaning” that it doesn’t even need a full on mopping.
10) SHINE UP YOUR SINK
Hands down one of the best habits I’ve adopted is to clean and shine my sink every day.
Cleaning my sink thoroughly each day not only prevents smelly bacteria and germs from building up, but it also keeps the sink free of clutter and ready to use when it’s needed.
I like to use this twisty brush because it does a really good job of getting down into the drain and crevices. (It is also great for hand washing jars and bottles AND it goes in the dishwasher!) Dish liquid works great for shining the sink. For stubborn messes, I add a sprinkle of this powder. It always gets the job done.
These habits will go a long way to keep your kitchen tidier and more functional in between deep cleanings.
For tips on keeping your entire house under control on the daily, you can check out 5 Simple Habits for a Cleaner Home.
For Meal Planning Ideas: Family Meal Planning Master List & Free Printable