26 February 2016

My Five Steps to a Clean Kitchen

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, and maybe that's why I'm always thinking about what I can do to make the fun parts (trying a new recipe, anyone?) more fun and the bad parts (another sink full of dishes) take way less time.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I am indeed writing this blog post instead of cleaning my kitchen, but it doesn't worry me, because the system I've been thinking about and working on for months will get me out of the mess I'm in pretty quickly.  Even if I take a few minutes to stop in at this all-too-dormant blog.  :)

So here's the logic behind the system:  I figure I might not have time to do the whole project at once, and I needed a way to prioritize the tasks.  Which things absolutely need to happen?  Which things will wait around for me to come back later without causing further trouble?

These five steps prove to be a consistent success for me, and even if I only have time for one or two steps, I still feel like I've made a dent.  The order is indeed important, and the foundation of the process.  I think through them every time I clean my kitchen, and they help me stay focused.

1.  Put away the food

I hate throwing away perfectly good food, and we all know food doesn't last as long if we don't get it back into the refrigerator.  Putting all the food--even non-perishables--back where it belongs not only preserves it, but also clears a lot of visual space in the kitchen.

2.  Get rid of trash and compost

I'm not always great at cleaning as I go (my mother-in-law is amazing at this), so I often have an empty can, tofu box, wrapper....you get the idea....left out after the meal is prepared.  Plus scraps for the compost bin.  Once the food is taken care of, getting the trash and compost out of the kitchen clears that space and removes the gross factor for later.

3.  Put away clean dishes

My mom tells me I should empty the dishwasher before I make the next meal, and she's absolutely right.  But I don't always do it.  I do find, though, that if I put away all the clean dishes before I start rinsing the dirty ones, I then have a place to put the dirty dishes when they're rinsed for the dishwasher or hand washed.

4.  Rinse and wash the dirty dishes

This goes pretty quickly once all the other clutter has been dealt with.  Even if I have to come back to it later, it's not as overwhelming when the dishwasher and drying areas are cleared out.

5.  Wipe all the counters and clean the sink

I used to clean my sink once per week.  As a single person, that kind of worked, but it really didn't work well when I got married.  Marriage meant that I was cooking a lot more often, and you know what that means for the sink.  Eventually I figured out that cleaning the sink--actually scrubbing it out--every day made a huge difference in how I felt about working in my kitchen.  Cleaning the counters after each meal puts that finishing touch on a the kitchen, so that the next time I come in I feel inspired to cook delicious food once again.

If I've kept up on it through the day, this routine takes me ten to fifteen minutes, which feels efficient to me.

Do you have any tips for keeping up on the kitchen work?  I'd love to hear!

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