Let's be honest — breakfast is the only good thing about the mornings. And making your own gives you full reign over the menu, but also leaves you responsible for the cleanup. Make it extra easy with these smart tips from Debbie Sardone, the mastermind behind the site Speed Cleaning.
1. Bacon grease is one of your sink's worst enemies.
Crispy, greasy bacon is delicious. It also creates a big fat mess. What to do with all that grease in the pan? If you're not going to save it to cook with later, you have two disposal options: Pour it into an old metal can to throw out later, or let it cool completely in the pan and scrape the solids into the trash. Never, ever put it down the drain. It goes in as a liquid, but will harden and, over time, narrow the pipe and clog it up.
When it comes to the bacon grease that's inevitably splattered all over your stove and counter, let it cool and then spray it with an all-purpose surface cleaner. Let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe it all up with a sponge.
Of course, there's something you can do to prevent the splatter in the first place: "Purchase a large spatter screen to pop over the frying pan," says Sardone. "It will catch most of the popping grease and you can put it in the dishwasher with the rest of the dishes after breakfast." Or avoid the stovetop struggle entirely and bake your bacon in the oven.
2. Don't dump your cereal.
When you don't have a disposal, you can end up with all kinds of crap caught in your sink trap. Cereal is particularly annoying, because you can't exactly dump leftover milk (and cereal leavings) into the trash. The fix: "Pour the last bit of milk and cereal through a spaghetti colander or sieve, then dump the trapped cereal in the trash," Sardone says. Sure, you'll have to dirty another dish, but it's worth having to wash out a strainer versus calling a plumber because you've gunked up your pipes.
3. Keep coffee grinds out of the sink.
Coffee grinds seem harmless enough, but they really just sit in your pipes and build up, clogging the curves. If you use a French press, you probably find yourself in a constant battle with the stuff. Use your hands or a spatula to scrape out the grounds (or try a fine-mesh sieve over the sink). Then, "Spread the grinds around in your garden as a fertilizer," suggests Sardone. "Or place a bowl of used coffee grounds in the back of the refrigerator to absorb odors." If you don't want to be all treehugger about it, just dump them in the trash — but never in the sink or the toilet.
Related: How To Clean a French Press
4. Smoothie cleanup can be done in a whirl.
Your blender may be hardworking, but you don't have to be when it comes to cleaning it up post-smoothie duty. Give it a quick rinse, then fill it halfway with warm water and add a drop or two of dish soap. Set it back on the base, turn it on, and let 'er rip. Another rinse and that may be all the cleaning it needs, although "every now and then, take it all apart and clean it more thoroughly," says Sardone.
5. Nonstick pans need very little TLC.
Nonstick pans should be a breeze to clean: "Sometimes you can just wipe them out with a paper towel alone," Sardone says. Worst case, you might need to hit it with a sponge and some soapy water.
But if you've been using cooking spray (a giant no-no!), you may have noticed that your favorite skillet has gone totally tacky and decidedly un-nonstick. Don't fret — the damage can be safely undone! "Add some water, sprinkle a little Bar Keepers Friend, scrub with a non-scratch sponge, and then let it stand for a few minutes so the cleaner can do some of the hard work for you," says Sardone. "If there's a lot of build-up, you may have to repeat a few times."
Buy: Bar Keepers Friend, $17 for 12 ounces