8 Cleaning and Organizing Products Chefs Swear by in the Kitchen

published Nov 20, 2023
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Someone cleaning a black glass stovetop with a towel
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Anna Surbatovich

Cooking and cleaning go hand in hand, but doing both each time you make a meal can be overwhelming. You may already troubleshoot by multitasking — washing dishes while your onions sauté or emptying the dishwasher while your casserole bakes. Still, any tricks to make kitchen chores more manageable are always welcome. And who better than professional chefs to spill their trusted cleaning and organizing products?

Anyone in a restaurant kitchen (or who’s watched The Bear) knows that chefs move fast. But even with their speed, the line is in order and ready to prep the next dish. “I believe that if a chef is organized, then they are working clean,” says Chef Oscar Gonzalez, executive chef for Hard Rock Hotel New York. To help make this kind of magic happen in a home kitchen, I tapped Gonzalez; Chef Jennifer Scism, founder of Good To-Go and a former New York City restaurateur; and Chef Kaiy Smith-Biesman, sommelier and food stylist of Stems in Pasadena, California, for their expertise. Here’s which cleaning and organizing tools best maximize their efficiency and storage space at work and home.

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Sometimes, the most ubiquitous household products can be the most useful. Gonzalez says blue tape is his savior when labeling and dating containers; it also keeps his fridge visually organized and prevents food waste. Place a small strip of this tape on the side of your leftovers container (or on the lid if you keep these containers on low shelves or in drawers). Use a black Sharpie to write the name of the food and/or the date you prepared it.

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After a lengthy renovation, Scism got the home kitchen of her dreams. She keeps it spotless and tidy with the help of a popular little robot. “Roomba is my number-one tool. I can’t live without [it]!” says Scism. She says running the Roomba daily (or even multiple times per day) can keep your kitchen floors free of dust, hair, crumbs, and other debris so you can go between sweeping and mopping sessions as long as possible.

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Trekking from the counter to the garbage whenever you need to toss something can mess up your cooking flow. Gonzalez suggests keeping one or two receptacles nearby to easily throw away food scraps and other trash. “A container for waste on the counter as well as a container for processed foods can be quite helpful when cleaning as you cook,” he says. If you don’t compost, a countertop waste bin might be more useful for you. Either bin will allow you to work more swiftly while cooking. Pro tip: It’s best to empty it daily so you don’t get any unwanted stenches.

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“A good dish towel is a must-have to easily wipe away every spill and stain as it happens,” says Gonzalez. Reusable, machine-washable dish towels can also curtail your paper towel usage. Many chef-approved aprons have a convenient towel loop to keep it accessible as you work.

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Scism says that a faucet with a pull-down sprayer makes washing dishes so much easier. “It makes sink cleanup an absolute breeze, washing away all the little bits and pieces that stick to the sink’s bottom," she says. "If you want your kitchen to look extra neat … push the sprayer back up once you’re done using it.”

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Small kitchen appliances, pots, and pans take up plenty of real estate around your kitchen. If it makes sense for you and you can swing the high price tag, Gonzalez recommends investing in a Thermomix to pare down. “It keeps me from having crowded counter space, cabinets, and drawers,” he says. The versatile appliance can chop, steam, blend, grind, sauté, and more, consolidating several bulky appliances and cooking tools into one machine. Gonzalez says his Thermamix replaced his blender, slow cooker, and duplicate pans.

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Gonzalez’s must-have in the kitchen is a spice organizer. The rack fits perfectly in most drawers and counters, and it comes with labels so you can quickly know what’s in each jar. If you're limited on counter and drawer space, he recommends a stove spice rack organizer to provide an extra storage spot for your herbs and spices.

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For Smith-Biesman, a clear view is important for her most-used ingredients. “We use airtight food storage containers for all our dry goods for our cheese boards like nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit,” she says. Smith-Biesman likes how the jars allow her to see all the ingredients when styling a charcuterie board. For home cooks, it can come in handy in the pantry to help you know when you’re running low on ingredients, and the uniform containers help you better utilize your pantry space.