Without a doubt, the kitchen is the busiest part of my house. It’s like grand central station with direct routes to anywhere in the house you want to go. At any given point of the day my toddler, husband, or animals are passing through. In the midst of all of the hustle and bustle, I am usually cooking, cleaning, feeding, or meal prepping.

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Because the kitchen can be so chaotic, I try to keep it as neat and orderly. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed watching the dishes pile up or the inevitable mess that comes along with cooking. I find this especially true having a toddler that eats three times a day (plus snacks). The easiest way to keep the kitchen clean is to stay on top of it throughout the day. Then, by the time dinner rolls around, instead of clearing clutter and making space, the kitchen is clean and ready to go.

“She hated cleaning up after making something.”
― Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt


First, I will start by saying, if you really dread kitchen work, keep in mind, it usually takes far less time than your angst is giving the “to-do” item credit for. One day I was really dreading unloading the dishwasher. I know this common, but I should mention I went a full year without a dishwasher. Every little fork, plate, and utensil was hand washed. I told myself I would *never* complain about unloading the dishwasher again. But a few months after the little beauty was installed, there I was, dreading to unload the thing. At this point, the task at hand became bigger in my mind then it actually was. I decided to run a scientific test and I proposed; “how long would it take to unload the dishwasher?” I set my phone timer as I unloaded the dishwasher. It was right under two minutes. Why was I procrastinating so much of my time and energy on two minutes of my day? It was mental. Whenever, I feel the urge to procrastinate, I become the Nike slogan….and “Just do it.”

Alright, here are my favorite tips for maintaining an orderly kitchen:

1. Have an empty dishwasher before you start any cooking. Instead of having a sink full of dishes you can stick them right into the dishwasher as you go. Meals are more enjoyable for the chef when there is not a disaster in the kitchen. I prefer to run my dishwasher every night before bed. I unload the dishwasher first thing in the morning while Libby is eating her breakfast. This way all new dishes throughout the day go right back in the washer.

2. Use a “Garbage Bowl.” This is a large bowl that you can place any food waste, cutting board scraps or packaging in while you prep. When you are done, empty it in the trash. First it will keep a mess off your counter.  Second, it keeps you in the kitchen enjoying the cooking instead of frequenting the garbage to throw everything out. I credit Rachel Ray for this tip. I think she coined the phrase, and she actually has a product called a Garbage Bowl. Check it out here. 

3. Play music while you cook and while you clean up. Old classics are therapeutic. They trigger happy memories that make the task of cleaning less of a burden. I like to get caught up in the music, and  let everything else just go on autopilot. Amazon Echo is a best seller and easy way to sync up your music, ask questions, and control compatible smart devices. Check out more on it here.

4. If you have children that are old enough, get them involved. My daughter is 19 months, she likes to hand me plates out of the dishwasher. She also likes to wipe her highchair off after she eats. I still spot check, but it teaches her responsibility and gives her confidence in her new skills. Older kids can handle tasks like setting the table, clearing plates, and loading the dishwasher.

5. Before you start cooking, pull out all of your bowls, pans, measuring tools and ingredients. If your following a recipe, it helps to make sure you have all of the ingredients.   This also prevents you from going on a scavenger hunt for items. Instead, you can focus on the art of cooking, start to finish.

6. Clean as you go. Have a clean, wet rag ready for any spills, splatters or splashes. Catching the mess before it dries and hardens makes clean up a breeze.

7. Rinse off your dishes immediately. Give a dirty pan a quick rinse before sticking it the dishwasher.  This is even more important if you ARE the dishwasher! The sooner you rinse it, the easier it is to clean.

8. Clean your fridge out on garbage night. Once a week go through your fridge and throw away any leftovers or spoiled food. Garbage night is the perfect night to do this so old food doesn’t’ stink up your kitchen.

9. Maintain fruit and veggie clutter. Pick up a fruit basket, or vertical storage so that your produce is not cluttering your counter. This can also help you keep produce longer than just leaving it in a big bowl. You’ve heard the phrase, “One rotten apple spoils the bunch.” If you don’t catch a spoiling piece of fruit, it could ruin your other fruit. If you want to learn more specifics of the fruit spoiling check out this article: Does One Bad Apple Really Spoil the Whole Bunch? 

10. Don’t scrub, when you don’t have to! Let your appliances do the work. Take advantage of the “Self Clean,” feature on the oven, prior to scrubbing. The heat will clean and remove most of the gunk. If it still needs cleaning, wait until it is completely cool before scrubbing. Utilize a similar approach with your microwave. Let steam loosen up everything that is stuck on the microwave so all you have to do is wipe it off. Start by placing a cup of water, a splash of vinegar, and some lemon in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 3-5+ minutes. You want the water to boil and steam in the microwave. The steam will loosen any food and it will just wipe right off. Easy as pudding pie.

Do you have a favorite kitchen hack? Leave me a comment below 🙂








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