How to Clean Your Entire Kitchen If You Have 20 Minutes … or Even Just 2

updated Feb 16, 2021
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Someone staying near cleaning supplies on kitchen counter.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

One of my favorite cleaning mantras is “cleanliness begets cleanliness.” The truth of this statement is revealed most obviously by evidence of its opposite: When one item is left out of place, it’s like an invitation for the mess to multiply. 

This is true everywhere in the home. That one sweatshirt tossed on the armchair in the bedroom quickly becomes a pile of mixed-up laundry. The pair of sneakers kicked off at the door becomes a nest of shoes that aren’t put away in the shoe bin that’s only inches to the left. But nowhere is the “mess begets mess” phenomenon more on display than in the kitchen, where one dirty dish left on the counter turns into a full-blown kitchen explosion before you know it. 

Staying on top of kitchen messes is the only way to maintain a clean kitchen. The habit has to become second nature — each item that’s out of place needs to become a trigger to clean it up. Of course, we can’t spend our lives keeping a perfect kitchen, but we can dedicate little pockets of time to making sure our kitchens are as picked up and clean as they can be. Two-minute and 20-minute investments in the kitchen, combined with daily habits and a defined kitchen-cleaning routine, will keep your kitchen in tip-top working order every day. 

Here’s how to make those in-between minutes count so your kitchen stays pristine.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

How to Clean Your Kitchen in Just 2 Minutes

Credit: Zoe Burnett

You can do a lot in two minutes. You won’t be able to scrub things and really get them spotless, but you can do a lot to make the room at least look and feel better. Which, in turn, will make you feel better.

  • Clear off the table: Make a clear table a priority. Whenever you go to clean the kitchen, start with getting the table cleared off. To have one place to rest your eyes, even if the whole house is a wreck, make the visual oasis of a cleared-off table your goal. 
  • Wipe the table: Most homes’ kitchen tables are the site of far more than meals. But encountering sticky spots when you go to dump out a puzzle or sit down with some paperwork is frustrating. To make sure your table is welcoming, make it a priority to keep it clean all the time. 
  • Push in the chairs: Askew chairs are messy, but chairs that are nicely pushed in and evenly spread around the table infuse a space with order that spreads beyond the eat-in area itself. 
  • Clear off counters: When every surface in the kitchen is full of dishes and pots and pans and water bottles and papers and hair ties and the keys and junk mail, the scene is overwhelming. Take a few seconds to corral everything. Remove items that don’t belong in the kitchen at all (you can toss them in a laundry basket to put away later) and put everything else on one counter near the sink, or even in the sink. 
  • Wipe cleared-off counters: Wiping down cleared-off counters makes most of the kitchen feel clean. Confining a mess makes it feel bearable. 
  • Put the dishes in the sink: Anything on the counter or table can be “hidden” in the sink. If you have time, and the dishwasher is empty, load what ever can go in there.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

How to Deep Clean Your Entire Kitchen in Just 20 Minutes

Credit: Zoe Burnett

You would think that 20 minutes would not be enough to give your kitchen a serious deep clean. It is, though! You just have to be smart about how you spend the time.

Do everything listed above, plus the chores on the list below.

  • Wash the dishes: Get every last thing out of the sink. Put anything that can go in the dishwasher in there. Wash everything else. And then empty out that gross Drain Salad that’s collected in the strainer. We’ll finish the sink later.
  • Wipe down counters: Be more thorough and meticulous in your counter-wiping if you have more time. Move countertop appliances out of the way, pay attention to corners and seams. Buff dry to ensure a high-gloss sheen. 
  • Wipe the stovetop: This task might take a few minutes but is always well worth the effort. If spills and splatters have dried on to your unit, spray them with an all-purpose cleaner and allow time for softening so you can wipe them away easily. Remove grates on gas stovetops. Tip: Vacuum crumbs before “wet” cleaning if necessary. 
  • Polish stainless appliances and wipe down other appliances: Dusting and polishing your appliances both large and small makes your kitchen gleam. We love Weiman’s Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish for erasing smudges and making our fridge and other stainless steel surfaces shine. 
  • Scrub the sink with cleanser like Bar Keepers Friend: Scouring the kitchen sink tops off any kitchen cleaning session. Using a scrubbing cleanser dislodges grime and keeps the dirtiest place in the house spotless. 
  • Take out the trash: Even the cleanest kitchen doesn’t seem that way if the garbage is overflowing or, worse, not smelling great. Empty the trash, wipe out any obvious muck on your can, and add a fresh bag. 

What do you when you’re trying to clean your kitchen quickly?