How to Clean Your Kitchen

>> Friday, May 24, 2019

I wrote recently on Instagram about the radical idea that cleaning my kitchen is a form of self-care. To me, this was kind of embarrassing and even seemed a bit silly. Cleaning. Self care? Seriously? I'm not a neat or tidy person by nature, so getting fire under my behind with organizing my house has been difficult. What I've found is a sense of serenity when thing are in order. And it's this feeling that seems to be filling me up with good vibes, even when everything else in my life seems a bit out of control.

So, I figured I'd share the quick things I'm doing each day to keep this particular space shiny and fresh. Now that I've got a system going, cleaning the kitchen when it's super messy/dirty only takes 10 minutes or so. And that includes getting dishes going AND steaming the floors.

What? I steam the floors? YES, and it's the best feeling ever.

Start with the 5-minute rule

I didn't invent the concept that you should do tasks that take just 5 minutes instead of letting them pile up. But now I'm the biggest cheerleader to this way of living life. Previously, I'd wait on the dishes and counters. They'd get beyond my ability to see the light. And I would feel like cleaning was a hopeless endeavor.

Things that only take 5 minutes or less:

  • Putting dirty dishes into the dishwasher and pushing START
  • Putting everything on the counters in the "right" home
  • Wiping down the counters and appliances
  • Vacuuming and steaming the floors (really! 5 minutes!)
  • Tidying open shelving and dusting containers
  • Taking out the garbage and putting a new bag in the can

Get the right tool and supplies

I use eCloth microfiber cleaning cloths on all surfaces. The company claims you can clean using only water, but I usually use some kind of spray. The advantage with these types of cloths is that they really seem to wipe up well.

I'm also a sucker for pretty and good-smelling cleaning supplies. I've recently become obsessed with anything Method -- especially the Sea Salt and Lime All-Purpose Spray. Their Stainless Steel Spray has also given me life. It's not that vinegar doesn't work. But to get inspired to clean, I needed something a bit flashy, if you will.

And my favorite floor cleaning supplies include my Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop and Shark Stick Vacuum. Again, you only need to use the steam to clean floors, but the Method Spearmint/Sage Floor Cleaner is divine.

Decant your groceries

This is an idea I got from Erica Flock (who, in turn, got it from another blogger). My pantry tends to be this black hole of craziness. The simple act of pouring my snacks and other foods into clear containers allows me to see how much is left, what exactly we have, and it keeps garbage from piling up. I can't tell you how many times I'd clean the pantry and have like two gigantic bags of trash/recycling to contend with.

Then all you need are flip-top containers. Try getting a set of clear containers that offers different size options, like this set of EAGMAK Food Storage Containers. Another favorite are the tiny containers that have flip-tops you can find at the Dollar Tree. They're similar to the smallest container in this awesome 10-piece Food Pantry Container set. In fact, I think those are the same exact containers I found at my dollar store. 10 pieces for $15.

I also use open baskets to separate out things like applesauces, granola bars, and instant oatmeal. And my bamboo bread box is my new favorite thing.

Clear out pantries and refrigerator weekly

Overwhelming, right? Stay with me.

Once you do an initial purge and start decanting, this step is very easy. When I do my meal planning for the week (or when I simply take a look at what we have before making a mad dash to the store), get rid of anything that is either past its prime (yogurt, I'm looking at you!) or that you don't think you'll ever use.

Example: We're not a pasta-eating family. My mother-in-law kindly gave us a gigantic bulk box of edamame pasta. It was sitting and taking up tons of space for months -- and we're just not going to use it. Stuff like that can go to a food pantry or even a friend.

When you clear stuff out, there's more space for the stuff you use OR there's just more space for your things to breathe.

Move stuff around

You need to make your cabinets work for you. Efficiency is key if you want to keep your kitchen clean and you want to do it FAST. If you don't have specific homes for everything, it's hard to unload the dishwasher in a timely manner. If you have some food in this cabinet and similar food in another cabinet across the room, it's hard to figure out where to put stuff.

Spend some time really mapping out your ideal zones.

  • We have a pantry where all the non-perishable food goes. 
  • We have a coffee/tea bar on the counter and right above it, I have the coffee/tea stored away along with Eden's formula (the bottle warmer is right there) and bottles. 
  • I have glass food storage in one drawer and in the drawer beside it are the lids. Separating them made everything so much easier.
  • I have a whole drawer that's down low dedicated to our kid dishes. This allows me to store all the stuff together AND gives my kids some independence.

Think about non-kitchen items

If things are living in your kitchen that don't belong in your kitchen, take them out and distribute to where they belong. It's that simple. Alternatively, if you regularly do non-kitchen things in your kitchen, consider making a special home for those things.

Example: I always do my girls' hair at the kitchen island. So, I now have a little bin of all their hair supplies (hair ties, bows, combs/brushes, detangler) right above the refrigerator. That way, I don't have all that stuff scattered on my countertops.

While you're at it, embrace the junk drawer. It's OK to have a junk drawer. I just polled my Instagram followers and 86 percent of people shared that they have this chaotic space. I recently went to the dollar store and purchased some organizing containers (similar to these) so we can at least categorize the junk. This has been especially helpful for charging cords and batteries. 

Reevaluate your stuff

We had beautiful Fiestaware dishes that we got for our wedding. I did hold onto some pieces, but they were bulky and heavy and annoying to deal with on the daily. So, I replaced them with simple white Corelle Dishes. They are super lightweight, they stack nicely in the dishwasher, and they take up very little space in our cupboard.

We use Ball Jars for food storage and drinking glasses. This is one of the best switches we've made because they can be used interchangeably to suit our needs.

If you aren't using certain appliances much, store them away or get rid of them. I actually don't use my KitchenAid mixer much anymore. I have it stored away in a lower cabinet and pull it out maybe twice a month.

BONUS: When you remove appliances from the countertops, they're easier to clean. (And there's less stuff to wipe down in general.)

Stay on top of it

Once you make some changes, just stay on top of cleaning. That sounds easier said than done, but once you get things organized and start doing 5-minute tasks . . . the momentum starts. And some of those quick tasks become even quicker. Before you know it, you'll be cleaning your entire kitchen in just 10 minutes.

Bigger jobs can come at your convenience. But do them regularly!

For example, I clean the stovetop once a week . . . and it actually only takes 5 minutes but is a bit harder because I have to remove all the grates. I used to just not clean it . . . and then everything would get burned onto the top and take FOREVER.

I try to deep clean the refrigerator monthly. That may not seem like a lot, but I used to only do it maybe twice a year. In fact, that's on my list of things to do this weekend. Monthly makes those stuck-on messes a bit easier to lift.

Anyway, these are some basics that have helped me transform the way I deal with our messy kitchen. I hope you find them helpful. If you have anything to share, please leave it in the comments!

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