10 Ways to Clean Your Kitchen Less Often, and Enjoy It Way More

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Once or twice a year it's a good and necessary thing to dig deep and really cure your kitchen. But what about daily maintenance? The stuff you can do the rest of the year to keep your kitchen clean and enjoyable? That's what we're talking about today. Here are 10 tips that will help you keep your kitchen cleaner on a daily basis with less work, and probably make you a little happier in the process!

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1. Start with an empty dishwasher and an empty sink. This is such a simple, but smart suggestion. Make sure your dishwasher and your sink are empty before you start cooking; that way, you can rinse and load messy tools and dishes right away instead of leaving them to sit out for a few hours (or overnight, or days!).

2. Clean as you go. With an empty dishwasher and sink at the start of your meal prep, cleaning as you go suddenly gets a lot easier!

3. Clean your sink after washing the dishes. Faith washes her kitchen sink with Mrs. Meyer's basil soap and warm water after every dishwashing session. As she says, "It's a rather soothing, satisfying little ritual, and it keeps the sink clean and smelling good. It's a cleaning habit that's good for the kitchen, and it makes me feel good too." Plus, dishes don't get extra-greasy or gunky as they sit in the sink, saving you time when you catch up on the washing-up. Win-win!

4. Do some maintenance work once a month on your cookware and knives. Need to clean burnt-on stains and remove rust spots from your stainless steel pots and pans? Or just remove stains and polish? Maybe your knives have gotten a little rusty or spotty, and you want to get them shiny and new again, or they need to be honed. Once a month it's a good idea to take stock of these items and address any issues before they get out of control and take a whole afternoon to address.

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5. Oil your cutting boards once a month. On the same note, all it takes is 5 minutes a month to maintain your wooden cutting boards. You can also do this for your wooden spoons! This saves time and money; you'll replace these items much less often if they are cared for.

6. Get the right cleaning tools, and keep them close by. There's nothing more frustrating than getting ready to do a little cleaning or maintenance work only to be thwarted because you either a) you don't have the right tool or, b) you have to run around your house finding it. On the other hand, you probably don't need 10 different kitchen cleaners clogging up your under-sink space. Pare down to the essentials and then store them neatly under the sink, either in a pull-out drawer, some some baskets and buckets, or in an over-the-cabinet door rack.

7. Keep your countertops clear, and then clean them properly. Messy countertops — heck, even countertops that have pretty things, but just too many of them! — can make a kitchen feel untidy and claustrophobic, whereas mostly clear countertops are invigorating and inspiring. They also invite you to cook, instead of feeling like your kitchen is unready for you. Try clearing a few things off your countertop, and you'll see what I mean!

8. Make sure your trash and recycling containers are big enough. Do you have an overflow area for your recycling? My current trash can is one of those trash-and-recycling duos, but the recycling part is way too small, and I frequently find myself putting a paper bag (or two) next to my trash can for all my recyclables. This is not an ideal solution, since it makes the kitchen look cluttered and I constantly have to maneuver my way around the bags!

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9. Develop good cooking habits, especially these 8 things. With all cooking there comes cleaning, but how much and for how long you clean depends on your cooking habits. These 8 tips have the power to transform your cooking (and thus, cleaning!) life.

10. Love what you love. This is really less a cleaning tip than an overall life-in-the-kitchen tip. Enjoying your kitchen means really paying attention to the things that make you happy, and the things that frustrate you so you can fix them. It means really taking care of that stock pot even if it only cost you $10. It means hanging that painting you found at a thrift store right over your stove even if your friends think it looks wonky. It means not feeling bad if you decide to splurge on a really nice piece of equipment or some really expensive ingredients. It means being open to new ideas, tips, and techniques, but it also means not apologizing for the way you cook, clean, shop, and feed yourself or your family, if it works for you.

We're all different, we can all learn from each other, and in the process have a better, cleaner, happier kitchen and cooking life all-year round.

What are your tips for keeping your kitchen clean every day, and enjoying it?

It's Reader Request Week at The Kitchn!
This post was requested by jlksince1986.

Originally published 10.9.2013.

(Image credits: Adrienne Breaux; Alysha Findley; Hannah Messinger; Gina Biancaniello)

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