5 Things You Should Clean While You Wait for the Oven to Preheat

updated Feb 19, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

I used to be one of those people who put food in the oven as soon as I’d hit the “preheat” button — which, I’m not so proud to say, wouldn’t always make for a smooth process. Half the time, my chicken breasts would end up taking *longer* and tasting *worse* than if I’d just waited for the oven to fully preheat. These days, I’m trying my hardest to wait until the oven reaches a full 375°F before I even think about putting food in. And I’ve since realized that rushing the process meant I missed a crucial opportunity to clean my kitchen. Turns out, those precious 15 minutes can be used to get other things done. 

Feeling impatient? Take it from me: Everyone will be happier when dinner tastes good and your kitchen is tidy. Here are five things you can clean while you wait for your oven to preheat.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Wipe down your oven’s exterior: 4 minutes 

You’re already in front of the oven, so why not use this time to clean it? Before things heat up too much, grab a damp microfiber towel and wipe down the greasy surface of the stovetop. Then, spray your favorite glass cleaner on the exterior glass and wipe it down with a clean towel. If you have a stainless steel oven, use stainless steel wipes to remove fingerprints from the front, too!

Credit: Lula Poggi

2. Clear off the kitchen table: 2 minutes

Our kitchen tables are working double and triple duty these days, as offices, class rooms, mail holders, and more. Take a few minutes to clear everything off and wipe down the surface so that you have a place to sit down and eat.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani/Kitchn

3. Wash a few dishes: 3 minutes

The key word here is “few.” You don’t have to wash everything — just as much as you can get through in three minutes. If you don’t have anything to hand-wash, use this time to load up or empty your dishwasher! And if your dishes are totally done (lucky you!), freshen up your garbage disposal with half a lemon and a few ice cubes. 

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4. Clean up any messes in the fridge: 3 minutes

We all have that spill in the fridge we’ve been putting off until the right time. Well, the right time is now. Take a couple of minutes and empty out the affected area, then scrub the spill with your soapy sponge until it’s gone. Dry the shelves with a clean towel and replace everything you took out! No fridge spills? Clean the front of your fridge instead!

Credit: Cat Meschia

5. Wipe down cabinet faces: 3 minutes

I don’t know about you, but when I stand around waiting for something I tend to notice things that I wouldn’t otherwise see. Usually, that’s spills and drips on my cabinet doors. Just use a damp cloth to wipe those up — add a bit of dish soap if need be.

What do you do while you wait for your oven to heat up?