The kitchen is the one area of the home that gets the most use and abuse.
We’ve all heard that the kitchen is the most popular hangout space for the family … that means it’s also the place that gets the messiest.
Why Does It Get So Messy?
It’s not just the place where meals are made, but also the place where homework is completed, boo boos are attended to, and purses and paperwork are dumped.
And, of course, cooking itself is just plain messy. When you’re making meals … it’s chopping here, stirring there, splashing this and that. Those messes end up on the counters, the stovetops, table, and floor.
In our busy lives, too, it’s easy to dash in … make something in a hurry and then be on to the next activity, or out the door. Those dishes and spills get left behind, and unless you have some guardian cleaning angel (if you do, please share), those messes are gonna be right there when you come back for the next meal.
We all know that if you’re making three meals a day in there, things can really start piling up. There are bowls and coffee cups that accumulate throughout the day. There are all the snack dishes and cups left behind by the smaller people in our lives and even the bigger people, too (no, I’m not talking to you, Honey. wink, wink).
Getting this one area of the house under control provides so much peace. You won’t be constantly staring at the dirty dishes or crumbs across the counter and floor. Each day will start new with clear counters and a clean sink. I don’t know about you, but trying to make a meal in a dirty kitchen makes me grumpy, so, I have figured out some kitchen cleaning tips to get things in order quickly.
This post contains affiliate links. This means … if you purchase a product through one of my links, I make a small commission – at no additional cost to you. I really appreciate your support and you can trust that I only promote products I believe in. Read my full disclosure for more details.
Preventing the Dish Pile-Up
Have you ever seen those freeway pile-ups on the news? Sometimes I think the exact thing happens on my kitchen counter. And, once it starts, it gets out of control in a hurry. I’ve found that a little prevention goes a long way when it comes to the dish pile-up.
I don’t have time to be washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen all day long, so we’ve instituted a few key shortcuts to keep things tidy until dinnertime, which is our main cleaning time.
Unload the Dishwasher Early — Have the dishwasher unloaded in the morning. This job is offered up to my kids and they actually squabble over who gets to do it. Now, don’t think they’re some crazy chore-loving maniacs … they just know that if they unload now they won’t have to load at dinnertime.
Load Throughout the Day — Any dishes used throughout the day are rinsed and put straight in the dishwasher. If the dishwasher hasn’t been unloaded, then all dishes are stacked neatly, and pots are put to soak. If you’re not home during the day, make sure the breakfast dishes get loaded in the dishwasher or rinsed and stacked before heading out the door.
Limit Cup Usage — I get really tired of my kids using extra cups, so I’m always on their case to keep track of their cups. I find that the best strategy to help with this is for each child to have their own reusable water bottle or a cup with their name written in Sharpie.
Use Paper Plates and Snackware — there are times that it’s just too much to wash more dishes. This works particularly well when our schedules are cram packed with busy-ness. I especially love using these trays for snacks. When you have people at home using dishes all day long, just a little break from dirty dishes can keep you from getting behind.
During Meal Preparation
Wash as You’re Cooking — I nearly always wash my knives and cutting boards as I’m cooking dinner. It is so easy to run the water, put a little soap on the dish brush and scrub them up right away. It literally only takes about 30 seconds — and they’re done. You can even do a quick wash of mixing bowls or other items that you won’t be loading in the dishwasher.
Load the Dishwasher While You’re Cooking — Put any of the leftover lunch or snack dishes in the dishwasher while you’re cooking and you’ll have less to do after eating. You can even put in any of the food prep utensils and dishes. This is perfect to do while you’re waiting to “stir occasionally” or while the casserole is in the oven.
Soak the Pots Before You Sit to Eat — This is a great help because if they soak while you eat, then they’ll be ready to wash right after loading dinner dishes in the dishwasher. One of the worst things ever is to soak your pot at the end of washing dishes and then forget about it and have to do it as you’re heading to bed, or worse … waking up to that gross monster still sitting in your sink. You can tell I’ve done this before, huh? I hate leaving a pot too long, then having to deal with it later.
After Dinner Clean-Up
After a long busy day of work (at home or out), taking care of the kiddos, and preparing the family dinner, you don’t want to spend another hour cleaning, so here are some ideas to get you done fast!
Require Everyone to Rinse and Put Their Dishes in the Dishwasher After Meals. If your kids can carry a plate, then they are totally capable of doing this. If they’re little you may have to help with reaching the sink, but definitely start them young on this one. Everything goes so much quicker when the kids learn to be responsible for cleaning up after themselves. If you’re worried about them breaking dishes and glasses, invest in some colorful dishes like these and you won’t regret it.
Recruit Some Help — I figure, anyone capable of eating a meal is capable of cleaning up a meal. For many years the dishes were solely my responsibility, but no more. Now everyone is responsible for the clean-up. I have even shifted the greater of the responsibility to my older 3 kids (10, 12, 12). I now oversee and direct, but they have really shown themselves to be capable of handling clean-up after the dinner.
Run the Dishwasher — Even if it’s only half full, run that dishwasher. I know … it’s not the most energy efficient way to do it, but if you don’t get it done then it’ll throw everything off. You’ll end up with not enough space for all the dishes on the next night, or it’ll be running while you’re eating dinner, or it’ll just make your routine all wacky. Just run it tonight so you can start fresh tomorrow.
By following these kitchen cleaning tips, your dishes can be cleaned up within minutes of eating.
Won’t that feel amazing?
It’s now time to relax and enjoy your evening.
One last note — being able to walk out of the kitchen, and turn off the light knowing that the job is completely done is the best feeling ever. Be sure the counters clean, sink cleaned out and dirty washrag and towels are taken to the laundry. Do a quick sweep if needed, also. Tomorrow you’ll wake to a fresh palette and be motivated to keep it that way.
Download the Kitchen Cleaning Tips Cheat Sheet and put it on the fridge so you’ll remember to stay on track with the routines. Your kitchen can stay cleaner and you won’t have to feel like a slave to the sink.
Weekly Meal Planner
Get the Weekly Meal Planner and Worksheets here!