5 Things People with Perpetually Clean Kitchens Always Do

updated Jul 19, 2021
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Credit: Viv Yapp

For many of us, it isn’t cleaning the kitchen that’s the hard part. It’s keeping it clean that’s tough. You know how to wipe down the counters and wash the dishes. But short of crumb-repellent paint and a sink that buzzes when it’s dirty, how do you keep crumbs from collecting on surfaces and the dishes from piling up?

Turns out, keeping your kitchen in tip-top shape is a matter of a few small things. Learn to adopt these habits and maintaining an impossibly clean kitchen becomes just one of those things you do.

Here’s how to become someone with an always-immaculate kitchen.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

1. Keep it clutter-free.

People whose kitchens are always clean usually start with a simplified space, pared down to the minimum of what’s necessary for cooking, eating, and cleaning up. This is true for a few reasons. For starters, a kitchen that’s crammed to the gills is one that’s hard to put things away in; if you have to move a dozen serving platters to put the waffle maker away, it’s probably going to sit out on your counter. Additionally, a kitchen with all sorts of counter clutter is going to be harder to clean; you’ll likely clean around stuff or skip a wipe-down altogether. Plus, clutter also makes a space look messier than it really is.

2. Never leave a dirty dish in the sink.

Of course following this rule meticulously is not possible, but having the operating principle, and instilling it into the other members of your household, is key to sustaining a kitchen that’s always pristine. This rule keeps messes from multiplying. Messes beget messes, and the next person who comes along with a dirty dish is far more likely to add to the stack of what needs to be cleaned than to wash it themselves. 

Similarly, though (and this is where the real power comes in), cleanliness begets cleanliness. An empty, shiny sink almost prohibits someone from sullying it, especially if that someone has been indoctrinated with the household’s new challenge of never being the first one to leave a dirty dish out. 

The point may be a tinge exaggerated; surely there are times where the odd dirty dish (or meal’s worth!) simply must be left for later. But making this the exception is a key component of an always-clean-kitchen plan. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Clean while cooking.

People who have a perpetually clean kitchen know that cleaning while they cook is just as important as cleaning after they cook. To this end, try to clean as many dishes and tools as you use them. For instance, wash out the pasta pot while your baked ziti is in the oven — this way, you don’t have to do it later in addition to the baking dish, the dishes, and everything else.

Another option is filling half the sink (if you have a divided one) or a large bowl with warm, soapy water. Then, just drop used items in there as you’re cooking. This way, at least you don’t have to deal with dried-on, sticky, time-consuming messes later on and will have to do little more than rinse. 

Related: Don’t Wash This Bowl! A Soapy Bowl By the Sink Is the First Step in Washing Up

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Clean right after eating.

In addition to cleaning as you’re going, have a purposeful plan for how you clean up after a meal. And do it… before you fall into a Netflix trance. If you put it off, stuff only gets harder to clean because it gets caked-on and you get more and more tired.

Your after-eating routine should be tailored to the setup of your kitchen and how you operate, but it might look something like this: 

  • Clear the table and wipe it. 
  • Put leftovers away.
  • Set all the dirty dishes on one side of the sink.
  • Push in the chairs. 
  • Take any remaining dirty dishes off the counters and the stove and bring them to the sink area. 
  • Soak any pots or pans that have stubborn-looking messes. 
  • Put dishwasher dishes in the dishwasher. 
  • Hand wash what you need to hand wash. 
  • Put random pantry ingredients away.
  • Wipe down counters and the stovetop. 
Credit: Viv Yapp

5. Shut down the kitchen every night.

If you’ve ever moseyed out of bed and into a perfectly clean kitchen in the morning, you know how great that feels. And how this very thing can set the tone for the rest of the day. Start your mornings off on the right foot by shutting down the kitchen the night before. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about a deep clean — it’s little things like wiping down the counters, making sure the stovetop is clean, sweeping the floor, and making sure everything is in its place. If you (or someone in the house) needs a late night snack after the kitchen has been closed, make sure the space gets a quick look-over once that nibble has been finished.

Got anything else to add to this list? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.