My Dad can be described as the neat-freak in our family. Any kind of dirt or disorder just eeks him right out, and we were forced to listen to monotonous lectures about cleaning and spot seemingly invisible spots of filth. When we were growing up, he actually coined the term pig-people…and I’m pretty sure he was talking about myself and my brothers. It wasn’t until I had a couple of pig-people of my own, though, that I truly understand – and forgive him for – this creative expression.
Like in many houses, the kitchen is the hub of our home. It’s a gathering place, a meeting hall, a classroom, a catchall, an entryway, and – of course – our own personal restaurant. My kitchen sees so much action throughout the day, it can be difficult to keep clean. Not surprisingly, if we’re not on top of it every step of the way, the mess can get a little out of control.
I’ll be completely honest and tell you that my kitchen doesn’t always look like it popped out of a magazine, nor is it always spotless, shiny, and perfectly clean. It’s usually what I like to call “presentable” at least. And by presentable, I mean that I won’t die of embarrassment if company pops in unexpected.
Fortunately, the lessons I learned in my childhood actually stuck and I can manage to keep a kitchen clean with a little effort and a few simple tips from dear old Dad. Well, most of the time anyway….
1. Clean as You Go
I constantly heard this when growing up – clean as you go, clean as you go, clean as you go! I always knew what the term meant, but I never truly appreciated this little nugget of wisdom until I was standing on a messy floor, elbow deep in a sinkful of dishes raising a couple kids of my own.
No matter how busy I am in the kitchen, I always try to clean as much as I can while I’m working. This way, the mess doesn’t pile up and there’s less that needs to be cleaned later.
2. Rally the Troops
Ol’ Captain Clean left us a nice little list of chores to do each and every day, and we had to divide and conquer. I think that’s where I get my list making skills that my own kids love so much. (Thanks, Grampa!)
But seriously, it is important to get a little help when trying to keep a kitchen clean, let alone a whole house. If you aren’t the only one using the kitchen, you shouldn’t be the only one cleaning. Even younger children can help with small tasks, like putting non-breakables away or wiping tables down.
3. Start Each Day Fresh
I hate doing dishes. Period. Yet, every night when we were growing up, the dishes were done after every single meal. We all pitched in as a family, and the tradition stands to this day. After every holiday dinner, Grampa and the kids troop to the kitchen to wash the dishes…and the walls, and the cupboards, and anything else within spraying distance.
Doing the dishes every night isn’t a task that most of us want to conquer, I know, especially after a long day of work and chasing kids. But starting a new day with a sink full of dirty dishes is just plain awful! If you’re truly too tired after a long day, at least clean the rest of the kitchen and prewash dirty dishes. You can then get up a half hour early and get them out of the way to start fresh.
4. Use Fewer Dishes
I think my Dad would have a kitten if we tried to use a fresh clean glass every time we got a drink when we were kids. The same was true for getting a plate for a bagel or other quick snack.
It’s really not that unusual of a concept, though – the fewer dishes you use, the fewer dishes you have to wash. It’s usually not necessary to get a fresh glass every time you want a drink of water, for instance, or a clean plate for a quick snack. Silverware in particular got out of hand at my house; every time I turned around, there was a sink full of dirty forks, spoons, and knives. My solution? Downsize! I put away all but the necessary pieces of silverware.
5. Bring the Trash to You
Little scraps of food and empty boxes can quickly accumulate on the counter when cooking. Toting them to the trash can or recycle bin constantly can also result in garbage on the floor as well. It always eeked dad out and it eeks me out to this day.
To avoid the mess, bring the trash to you. Use a large bowl to corral food scraps and other trash while cooking. When it gets full, empty it in the proper receptacle, whether it’s the trash can, compost bucket, or recycle bin. It’s a little tip, but it can do wonders when you’re trying to keep a kitchen clean.
6. Make it a Habit
It always seemed like we were constantly cleaning when we were kids, and it irritated me. However, we also never had messes pile up either.
When trying to keep a kitchen clean, it’s very important to stay on top of it. I clean the same things in the same order every day, whether they need it or not. Here are the daily kitchen tasks:
- Pick up and put away.
- Do the dishes.
- Wipe down counters, chairs, table, and stove.
- Clean the floor.
I’ve been doing it that way for so long that it’s become a habit and actually takes very little time. Staying on top of the mess also prevents it from building up, which is crucial when trying to keep a kitchen clean!
What tricks do you use to keep a kitchen clean