Generally, kitchens don't get dirty through some catastrophic event. It happens bit by bit, with a little spill here and there that you forget to clean up or dishes that stack up one by one until your sink is full, your countertops are dirty ... until one day the whole place looks kind of dingy. And you wonder: How did I get here?
So it's not surprising that the best way to keep your kitchen clean isn't with a bi-weekly binge clean, but with a daily cleaning routine that will keep the buildup under control. If you can spare 10 minutes every morning (and 10 minutes at night), you may never actually have to schedule a cleaning, because your kitchen will already be in tip-top shape.
I know 10 minutes in the morning sounds like a lot, as many of us like to sleep in until the last possible minute or are wrangling a couple of kids through the get-to-school routine (or both). So note that these 10 minutes don't have to happen in one chunk — they can happen while you're waiting for your coffee to brew or chit-chatting with the kids over breakfast. I'm all for multi-tasking!
Another note: These 10 minutes work best when paired with our 10-minute evening routine.
1. Put away the dishes (5 minutes).
Almost every cleaning or organizing pro I've ever talked to believes in doing all the dishes and running the dishwasher at night, so the morning corollary is to put away the dishes. Empty the dishwasher, and put away any bigger pots and pans you've left out to dry overnight. You want to create a clean slate to make dirty over the course of the day, otherwise the buildup can get out of control.
2. Toss breakfast dishes into the dishwasher (1 minute).
Now that the dishwasher is empty, put anything you've soiled this morning into the dishwasher! (This includes anything you used to make your lunch.) If you don't have a dishwasher, or if some pieces are not dishwasher-friendly, quickly wash these dishes and set them out to dry.
3. Wipe up any spills (1 minute).
Just do the basics — sweep up fallen cereal, gather loose coffee grounds, sop up milk splashes, etc. You just need to do enough so that you're not inviting critters or fostering bad smells while you go about your day.
4. Remove anything that doesn't belong (2 minutes).
Gather up items that have drifted into the kitchen from other rooms overnight and in the morning (in our house, an impressive collection of stuffed animals have breakfast with us) and take them out of the kitchen with you when you head out to get dressed.
5. Take out the trash (1 minute).
If the trash is mostly full or has stinky food in it, take it out. Tie it up, replace the bag, and bring the trash bag to the front door so you can drop it in the bin on your way out.
What other little chores do you do in the morning?