AAAh, the kitchen! What a wonderful room. In fact, it is possibly the most important and most used room in any given home, on every continent, in every country. The kitchen is the room in the house where laughter peals, important conversations happen, connections are made, tears are shed, and families spend a bulk of their time. It makes sense that having an efficient kitchen is having a happy kitchen.
I have seen kitchens that don’t seem to know what it’s like to be efficient. I suspect some of those kitchens either have never been cleaned, or have owners who don’t know how to clean them – how easy it is to keep them clean. I’ve been to pot lucks where, not only am I scared to make food in the house, I’m worried the gunk and grease will make it back to my house. Nothing grosses me out more than dirty kitchens and bathrooms.
I’ve made a list of simple things you can do, that take less than a few minutes, that will help keep your kitchen efficient and sparkling clean. Think about it: it’ll help you find things when you need them in a hurry, and you won’t set something down in the fried egg gunk you left behind earlier that day, or worse: a week ago (YUCK!).
- Put it away. Really, that’s the answer to any clean room: put it back. You got it out, retrace your steps to put whatever it is back where you got it. leave crumbs if you must, to get back to where you were. If it’s empty, put it in the garbage or recycle bin. If it’s almost gone, finish it and then dispose of it. There is no recipe on the face of the planet that calls for a thimble of anything. Just put it away.
- Wipe it down. Every time you do anything on your kitchen counter, get a warm soapy rag and wipe where you were after. Trust me, you left stuff behind. Sometimes that’s food gunk, and sometimes it’s germs from everything else you’ve touched that day. Either way, it’s gross. It literally takes 30 seconds to add soap to a rag and wipe your counter tops, stove, refrigerator handle. You’re right there anyway.
- Wash your hands. This really should not have to be said, and yet I watch people cooking for others not wash their hands, especially after messing with raw meat. Then, when you touch veggies, you’ve potentially cross-contaminated whatever was on the meat when you got to it, or put it there. Think about that. Didn’t wash your hands after you went to the restroom? Yeah, now go touch your food. It can also happen the other way, from veggies to meats. I’ve gotten incredibly ill off vegetarian sushi. Want to guess how?
- If it hits the floor, it’s off limits. This applies to food, rags, and those disgusting, bacteria-harboring sponges. It goes in the wash or the trash immediately. Why on earth would you want to rub whatever has been on your feet, your pets’ feet, your children’s feet(!) all over your kitchen? And while I’m on the subject, you should be tossing those sponges in the dishwasher once a week. If you don’t have a dishwasher, toss the sponge into the garbage and get a fresh one.
- Clutter belongs elsewhere. Stop leaving your papers out in the kitchen. Use another room, put them in your office, stash them under your couch cushions – just get them out of the kitchen.
- Scrape your dishes. Into the trash can. The garbage disposal isn’t a garbage can. The dishwasher isn’t a garbage disposal. Both of these appliances need to be taken care of to remain in proper working order. Other things that don’t belong in the garbage disposal: silverware, tough/thick vegetable or fruit peels, and children’s toys.
- Stop filling both sides of the soap receptacle in your dishwasher. Your dishes are not that dirty. If your pans need to be scoured, use the back of that disgusting sponge, or invest in metal scouring pads. Don’t ever use a metal anything on a pan with Thermolon, Teflon, or pectin coating.
- Don’t put your sharp knives in the dishwasher. It will ruin them quickly. Hand wash and towel dry. Then, put them away in a knife block (gasp!).
Following each of these rules will keep your kitchen clean, inviting, and efficient. As an added bonus, you won’t see a giant mess in there when you come back from a hard day at work, or a vacation. It’ll keep you stress-free. I’m all about being stress-free!