3 Non-Negotiable, Low-Effort Kitchen Chores You Need to Do Every Single Night

published Sep 29, 2021
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Modern and bright Loft kitchen
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Cleaning your kitchen can feel like a never-ending task because, well, it is. No matter how many times you roll that boulder up the hill, you’re going to have to do it again the next day. And the day after that. And the day… (sorry, is this getting overwhelming?). After more than a decade of cooking professionally, and almost daily at home, I’ve come to accept that certain tasks must be repeated, at the very least, at the close of each day. As my former chef boss used to say, “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.”

No matter what’s happening in there during the day, these are the three non-negotiable things you should do every night — after you’re done cooking. Don’t worry: They’re very easy and low-effort, and doing them will set you up for success the next morning.

1. Wipe down the sink.

Whether it’s stainless steel, porcelain, or something else, you should wipe your sink dry once you’ve washed the last dish. You should do this especially if you have a stainless steel sink, as water drops will leave residue. Sometimes, if I’m feeling motivated, I give the sink a quick scrub with a sponge and Bon Ami powder. But most times, I just clear the drain catches of any food, and wipe down the entire sink until it’s dry. There’s no need to waste a paper towel for this. I just use the “dirtiest” dish towel on my rack, then toss it in the hamper. Do I sometimes put things in the sink after I’ve wiped it down? For sure! But instead of washing that errant wine glass or midnight snack bowl, I just leave it in the dry sink and tackle it with the next morning’s dishes.

2. Disinfect the countertops.

When it comes to my countertops, I call in the big dogs. I prepare a lot of food at home, including fish, meat, and greens (which I eat raw). That adds up to potential for contamination. There’s a difference between cleaning and disinfecting, and “just” wiping down your counters with a damp rag won’t kill harmful pathogens. So every night, I give mine a thorough pass with a compostable Clorox wipe. This allows the disinfectant to do its thing and won’t interfere with my meal prep. In the morning, when I head into the kitchen, my counters are food-safe and ready to rock!

3. Sweep (or Swiffer!) the floors.

There are a lot of fancy ways to clean your floors (including high-tech vacuums, steam-cleaning mops, hybrid models, and more!). But every evening, I opt for a good old-fashioned sweep or Swiffer. If the floors are covered in mostly food debris (bits of produce and breadcrumbs), I use my broom and dustpan. If the main culprit is dust and pet hair, I’ll go for the Swiffer fitted with a dry pad. The goal here isn’t to get your floors so clean you could eat off of them (actually, you should never eat off your floors!). You just want to get them in fighting shape for the next morning. I can also say from experience: It is an unpleasant sensation to wander into the kitchen for a glass of water at 2 a.m., only to step on a piece of cold, congealed cheese!

What are your non-negotiables for “closing up” your kitchen? Share your thoughts in the comments below.