7 Easy Ways To Tame Kitchen Chaos

Take Charge on 03.20.12
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Photo: Ann Gordon/Creative Commons

Let's face it, whether you're a neat freak or one who doesn't mind things being out of place, a clean, well-organized kitchen is a great thing to have. Like the shiny, crown jewel of your home, it just makes you feel good, doesn't it? But keeping clean a room that gets that much traffic is not easy. I remember my wise mother (who seems to get smarter as I get older) telling me a little bit of work each day beat spending an entire afternoon on grime removal. You know what? She was right!

1. Start early.

Though you don't have to obsess the moment a crumb hits the tile, you still need to stay on top of things. If you see a dust bunny gathering in the corner or more than a few crumbs on the floor, grab the broom and do a cursory sweep and mop. A lot of the ground-in dirt and grime in a kitchen is from build-up. After messy cooking jobs, do a surface clean right away and give the kitchen a good once over every weekend. This way, when it's time for spring cleaning, you'll have less to do. 

2. Clean in your sleep.

Most of the dirt in a kitchen can be dissolved with water and a little cleaning solution but if it is ground-in, try this: put the solution on at night (when little feet are tucked away in bed) and let it soak in. The dirt should come right up the next morning.  

3. Keep the cooking area contained.

When you're cooking, keep the general work space to a minimum: In other words, don't use the entire kitchen if you don't have to. Confining yourself to one counter or table can cut down on chaos. The more space you use, the less able you will be to control the mess.

4. Dishes, dishes, dishes.

My mom used to say something like, a sink full of clean dishes looks a lot better than a sink full of dirty dishes. So we use them, then wash (or at least rinse) and stick them in the dishwasher. Also, use dishwashing liquid that cuts grease so you can make the detergent do most of the work.

5. Ground-in grease, meet elbow grease! 

If grime makes its way onto my stainless steel, I use plain, old scouring pads to clean the dirt. I probably hang on to them longer than need be, but I've made many an old toaster look like new with a little work. By the way, the scouring pads also make them shine!

6. Tackle oven mess safely.

Cleaning the oven has to be one of the least desirable jobs in the kitchen. Instead of using oven cleaners that can be full of toxic stuff, place a cup of ammonia in a glass bowl and leave it overnight in the oven (make sure the oven is off). The fumes will get busy while you're sleeping and the next morning, baked on stuff should wipe right off.

7. Clean out the refrigerator every week.

I hate waste, but the only thing I hate more is rotting food. Think twice before storing leftovers in the fridge: Are you going to eat it later? Really? If not, let it go. That will keep you from accumulating bowls full of science experiments. Tackle spills and leaks right away with hot water and a little soap so as to cut down on the big clean and keep everything smelling fresh.

What's your secret to staying on top of dirt and keeping the kitchen in running order?

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