5 Mistakes That Make Cleaning Your Kitchen So Much Harder than It Needs to Be

updated Dec 17, 2019
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What’s your least favorite thing about cleaning your kitchen? Is it a big project, like giving your refrigerator a thorough scrub-down? Is it something more mundane like loading and unloading the dishwasher? Or is it something in between — say, wiping down the counters and sweeping the floors? Whatever your answer, there’s a good chance all these chores could be significantly easier if you weren’t making these five common mistakes.

(Image credit: Liz Calka)

1. You have too much clutter in your kitchen.

We’re not saying your kitchen needs to be spartan — the minimalist look isn’t for everyone — but a cluttered kitchen makes cleaning so much more challenging. The biggest culprit is probably your kitchen counter, a refuge for unused appliances, unopened mail, dishes that need to be put away, and errant hats, gloves, socks. You name it, it’s probably ended up on your kitchen counter. And, if you have to move a million things from your counters before you can wipe them down, well that’s a million things you have to handle before you can get to cleaning.

So take a good, hard look at your kitchen counters and consider: Do I use that appliance daily? Does that stapler belong in the kitchen? Try putting your stand mixer away and see if it makes a difference. And make a no-mail-on-the counter rule.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

2. You’re letting your dirty dishes pile up in your sink.

The longer you let your dirty dishes sit around, the harder they’re going to be to clean. It’s science: food hardens, stains set, gross stuff gets grosser. Ideally, you’re loading the dishwasher or hand-washing dishes as you use them.

If you just don’t feel like doing it right now, remember this: Dirty dishes do not go in the sink. Dirty dishes get scraped and then loaded into the dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher or don’t feel like loading it straight away, dishes get stacked next to the sink so that you can use the sink to rinse or clean them. If you have pots and pans that need soaking, fill them up with hot, soapy water and take them out of the sink. That way, when it comes time to actually using the sink, you don’t have to take all the dirty dishes out of the sink before you can get down to the business of actually cleaning them.

(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

3. Your cleaning supplies are a hot mess.

What do your cleaning supplies look like? Do you have a half-dozen almost-empty bottles of dish soap, a few raggedy sponges, and some scrub brushes you can’t be 100 percent sure you haven’t used to clean the toilet? Here’s the thing about cleaning the kitchen: You don’t need a lot of supplies. In fact, most tasks can be done with dish soap and a microfiber cloth.

First gather all of your supplies, combine where possible, and toss all your old sponges, scrub-brushes with bits of food in them, and anything else of questionable cleanliness. Next, find a space to store whatever’s left. You’ll want a place that’s accessible, but hidden. (Hint: Under the sink is a natural spot.)

(Image credit: Lucy Hewett)

4. You’re not wiping up spills and splatters as they happen.

Basically every how-to for kitchen cleaning starts with something along the lines of: The best way to keep such-and-such clean is to wipe up spills and splatters as they happen. And here’s the thing … it’s true! That tomato sauce/frying oil/stray pasta strand will come up quick and easy if you take care of it right away — the sooner the better.

(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

5. Your shelves and cabinets are disorganized or over-crowded.

A place for everything and everything in its place! It’s a classic saying for a reason. If your cabinets are a disorganized mess and there’s no place to put that thing of olive oil even though you JUST took it out, of course tidying up is going to be harder than it needs to be. Make sure there’s room for your dishes, pots, pans, tools, etc. If you’re short on cabinets, consider some space-maximizers, or make use of walls and floors. (When it doubt, we love a RASKOG cart!)