Our kitchen gets filthy. I'd like to blame it all on my kids, because we have two young daughters who manage to make glorious messes on the floor anytime I serve them food that's remotely crumbly (see: kale chips, coconut flakes, or just about any baked good). But I'm probably just as much to blame, because I work from home. I'm generally camped out at the kitchen table for most of the day, and when I pause for lunch I tend to chop up all the weird healthy food left in the fridge, creating a trail of scraps in my wake. Sometimes my husband works from home, too, which means double the mess.
(Full confession: I'm working in the living room right now to avoid the temptation to procrasti-clean.)
So, four family members times three meals a day. By the end of the day, the kitchen must be cleaned! While looking at the room can seem overwhelming, there are really only three things you absolutely need to do. And that's good news: I've found, when I have a three-item checklist, it's much more manageable to just get started. Here are the critical items.
1. Dirty dishes (and the sink)
If there's one thing that every cleaning pro I've ever interviewed has said, it's this: Do all the dishes before you go to bed. It's a sort of wipe-the-slate-clean activity that sends you to be in a zen-like state, and can help you start the day fresh. It's also practical: It's easier to clean dishes before the food has dried and crusted on, and you're not leaving debris out to attract any critters — like ants, roaches, or mice — who would be pretty happy to feast on your leftovers. Once the sink is clear, give it a quick scrub, because it gets dirty, too! It takes about one extra minute and cuts way down on the amount of bacteria you're exposed to.
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2. Your countertops
Similar to the sink-decluttering theory, emptying your countertops and wiping them down at the end of the day will not only end the day and start the next morning right, but will also rid them of germs and debris that critters love to feast on. Put away small appliances, tidy those piles of bills, and corral the clutter that's crept in from other rooms. Then use your favorite countertop cleanser to give those surfaces a quick wipe-down.
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3. The floors
Man, my floors get dirty! Besides the aforementioned crumbs, our kitchen door opens onto the back deck and the kids tromp in from snow-playing and picnicking and bring all kinds of dirt in with them. Plus, I spill things while I prepare food. I'm also part of the problem. Doing a quick sweep of the floor at the end of the night should take care of it (it should always be your last task!) to cut down on critters and prevent you from dragging stuff to other parts of the house, too.