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6 Things You Should Always Clean Before Dinner (and 7 Things to Clean Immediately After)


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It doesn’t matter how you divide the labor in your house — if you want a cleaner kitchen, put somebody on each of these 13 tasks. 

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Before Dinner

Here are some pre-dinner cleaning habits that help make mealtime seamless.

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Clear the counters

Gather any dirty dishes that are sitting on the counters and pile them either in the sink or right next to it. Deal with any paper piles or other clutter.

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Wash leftover dishes

The goal is to start fresh in the kitchen before you cook. If you have any dirty dishes, wash them now.

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Empty the dishwasher and dish rack

If you want to keep a good flow of clean-as-you-go while you’re preparing dinner, you don’t want anything to bottleneck.

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Disinfect the counters

To ensure sanitary food prep, swipe the counters with a disinfecting wipe before cooking, especially when dealing with raw meat or unwashed produce.

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Check the fridge

Make sure you have everything you need and that nothing has spoiled or expired. (This way there’s time to run to the store before you start cooking.)

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Wash as many prep dishes as you can

If you wash the pots, pans, utensils, and tools you used to cook with before you sit down to eat dinner, you’ll have so much less later. 

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After Dinner

If someone’s able to get to these tasks right after the meal, you’ll be rewarded with a perpetually cleaner home.

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Get some fresh soaking water ready

I put hand-wash items in there as we’re clearing the table and loading the dishwasher.

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Wipe the table

As soon as everything is cleared off, wipe the table down. Then you don’t have to go back and do it later.

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Clear the stove and other dirty prep areas

The idea is that you’re gathering everything that’s dirty into an ever-narrowing area.

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Wash the dishes

After you’ve put everything in the dishwasher, wash your hand-wash items, including, of course, any items you weren’t able to get to before dinner.

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Clean the counters

Make an initial swipe with a clean, damp rag. Next, spray a cleaner and wipe with a clean cloth. If disinfecting is necessary, use a wipe or a spray.

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Wipe appliances and fixtures

Wipe everything while spills and splatters are still fresh and relatively easy to address.

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Scrub your sink

This is the topstone of a clean kitchen. Sprinkle some Bar Keeper’s Friend in a damp sink, scrub, and rinse.

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