9 Ways to Clean Your Kitchen

PICT0071If your kitchen’s immaculate and your house has never looked like Hurricane Wilma came through it, don’t read this. This post is not Martha Stewart approved, it won’t make the Fly Lady happy, and it’s not for the homemaker who keeps the floors so clean you can eat off them (though I like that homemaker and I want to be invited to her house for dinner. Tonight. Please.)

Full disclosure: I hate dirty kitchens. I find it rather painful that the floors in our kitchen can be eaten off of because there’s enough gunk on them to constitute a tasty (albeit dehydrated) meal.

Here are nine ways to combat the dinner hour entropy that invades the kitchen. Some of this advice will make the more traditional housespouse (note the gender neutral neologism) cringe.

1. Don’t wash the pasta pot. Make whole grain pasta, stir it while your toddler bangs her sippy cup against your knees and cries “Uppie Mama!” so the noodles don’t get stuck on the bottom of the pan. Drain the pasta and turn the pan upside down to dry. Pretend it’s washed. Justify this with the thought that boiling water (a powerful disinfectant) has been in it.

2. Wash the other pots before you sit down to eat. Those pesky pots. It’s impossible to clean them AND get your kids to bed at a reasonable hour (if you do the dishes before the bedtime ritual). Clean only the pots that need cleaning (see #6) right after you use them.

3. Buy a hanging pot rack. Or make one out of wood and hooks. Then you never have to have pots crowding the drying rack, you just hang them (which means they’re out of the way) and let them drip dry.

4. Enlist your 4-year-old to clear and sponge the table. He will do this by using half a bottle of eco-spray (“Puttin’ out the fire, reerah, reerah, here comes the back-up trucks!”) and five dishtowels, which he will carefully lay across the table. He will also spray the chairs but forget to dry them, which will cause his sisters to be in fits about their wet tushies. No matter, the 4-year-old got the table clean (but do you put the dishtowels in the washing machine or hang them out to dry?) and you can sit down to eat sooner.

5. Give your kids a “stash” where they keep their favorite dishware. Then have them unload their dishes into their stash. If there are contested dishes in the house, this will make them that much more eager to comply, especially if their siblings aren’t home from school yet. They’ll also stash the tureen (good for maple syrup pouring), the egg slicer (“It’s my turn to bring it to school!”) and possibly the Vac-U-Vin.

6. Assemble the plates at the stove and then put them on the table instead of putting food into serving dishes. When dinner’s over and there’s still brown rice left, put the lid on the pot and stick it in the fridge.

7. Put a plate over the leftover salad in the bowl and stick the bowl in the fridge in the salad. You can eat salad for breakfast and clean the bowl in the morning after you’ve had coffee.

8. Train your children to clear their plates, preferably directly into the dishwasher (if you’ve managed to unload it).

9. Sponge the table. Use two hands and you can do this in less than seven seconds. Even if it means sponging the stuff on the table onto the floor (wear slippers in the house), a sponged table makes it feel like the kitchen’s clean.

My friend Michelle, who has three kids, has a really effective method to keep the kitchen clean—she rarely cooks or eats in it.

What are your tricks for keeping the kitchen clean?! Any advice for quick ways to tidy up the rest of the house?!


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13 thoughts on “9 Ways to Clean Your Kitchen”

  1. my favorites are 1 and 7. and how about keep using the same dish for all of the meals of the day? i do that sometimes. and i’ve never gotten sick doing that!

  2. Keeping the kitchen clean takes a lot of effort. I have to remind myself that I’m really fortunate to have a cute little kitchen — which isn’t so hard, considering I spent four months washing dishes in the back yard spigot and scrambling eggs over a bbq. Making a list helps, even a ridiculously petty list (like *take dishes out of dishwasher, *sweep the floor, *clear counter next to stove, *clear counter next to sink, *put dishes in dishwasher, etc.); then I feel like I’m making progress. It always helps to put the kids to work, too.

  3. this is how i keep my kitchen clean: after dinner i turn into the dish tyrant. put that into the dishwasher yelled at least 20 times while teenagers ignore me and put them on the counter. then i put them in the dishwasher, turn out the lights and if i see anyone larger than the cat go in there i yell “GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN!” heehee i have 4 boys ranging from 7 months to 17, so i never feel that my kitchen is completely clean i do try to clean as i go which helps. my DH can trash a kitchen in less than a minute which doesn’t help.

  4. Thank God for a dog who cleans the floor below the baby’s seat. From broccoli to bananas, it all disappears.

    I also eat most of my leftovers cold, which saves washing pans for reheating. I’m trying to be better about heating up my food because I think it satisfies me more when it’s warm, but I’m often too discouraged by the time spent reheating and then cleaning up afterwards.
    .-= Mama Em´s last blog ..In Awe of Breastmilk =-.

  5. I’ve been in a few kitchens throughout all our recent moves and I love the one we’re in best – it’s quite small, but that makes it somewhat easier to keep clean. We have a chore chart on our fridge, though it’s a bit out of date now (we have “feed the dog” on there though he died :-( over half a year ago), but anyway, this very simple chore chart has helped the kids to remember which jobs they do to contribute to the family. LIke Anjie says, lists help – I have little lists all over the place! And what a great tip about “favorite” dishes. We have one extra little space for kids plates, a lower drawer which my baby loves to open and scatter all over.
    .-= Christine @ Origami Mommy´s last blog ..The stamp giveaway winner is =-.

  6. I have to admit that I always wash the pasta pot, and I clean as I go. But my kitchen is still a wreck! I wish the dish fairy would visit our house.

  7. Similar to keeping the same plate all day, we keep the same cup all day. If the kids have some milk left in their cup, they just stick it in the fridge that way. Saves milk and dishes.

  8. My three year olds (twins) love to clean the kitchen. They have brooms just their size, and I must say they are getting pretty good at using them. They also love to rinse dishes (we’re working on using soap) and put them in the dish rack. They fight over who gets to wash the table/counters. So, as long as I’m not too fussy about my definition of “clean”, I don’t have to do much. :)

    As for eating off the floor: when my children were first eating solid foods and crawling, my floor was always clean. They ate their own mess for snacks. Gross? Perhaps. Did it kill them? Nope.

    I must say, I would be far more disturbed by having a dog in the house than I was by my children eating cheerios off the floor.

  9. get them started on normal chores when they are little … like washing down the table (you could just use a squirt bottle with water) … and they’ll be more likely to be doing it still when they are older (my twins are 13) …. in my family, if you want to eat, you pretty much have to help, cause i tend towards just a little scattered … so while i’m scraping the rice off the bottom of the pan, i shout, quick! dinner’s almost ready! someone set the table! someone get the fruit on the table! who’s in charge of that broccoli? i’ll have water, who’s doing drinks … and it all mostly gets done …. with everyone helping …. then suddenly, one night, the thirteen year old says, i’ll be in charge of the rice mom, you pour the drinks, i’ll have milk …. and somehow the rice doesn’t stick for him …
    .-= elizabeth´s last blog ..go! =-.

  10. I learned when my kids were teenagers to keep the big counter clear. It give the impression of order. People tend to pile stuff on an empty space but if i moved it to the dishwasher, drawers, coatrack, etc and quick spray to that counter – for the impression of peace and order. I used this to fool myself too and stay relaxed when my family needed the time and attention that full kitchen cleaning would have required.

  11. I learned a great trick from my best friend’s family when I was growing up. After every meal – even breakfast – they turned on music and the entire family cleaned up together. It took very little time and their house was always spotless – with shiny floors, counters, table, sink. Plus, it was so much fun.

    We’re trying to create a similar routine in our house, now that our son is old enough to “help”.
    .-= Abby @ New Urban Habitat´s last blog ..Confessions From the Car-Free Life =-.

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