The Kitchn Cure Day 16: The Under-the-Sink Area, the Trash Can & the All-Important Tea Break

published Sep 28, 2015
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(Image credit: Henry Chen)

The Kitchn Cure Day 16: Clean the under-the-sink area and your trash can.
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Gasp! What is this? We are already on the final week of the Cure? Time sure passes quickly when you throw yourself into a project! This final week of the Cure has a few challenges (like today’s under-the-sink clean-out, if your kitchen is anything like mine), but mostly it’s about caring for our kitchens on a simpler, quieter level.

This week may be all about “the small stuff,” but it’s these small details that bring us a sense of satisfaction and contentment that the larger, more obvious projects can’t touch. These are the final touches — the last dabs of this and that — that will complete the picture and bring everything together.

The Under-the Sink Area

It is possible that your under-the-sink area isn’t necessarily a small task. Depending on size and your previous maintenance program (or lack thereof), it could be quite daunting. I know this personally, as my area seems to collect all manner of almost-used-up cleaning products, old rags, and other miscellaneous and even scary things that don’t have other places to live. The occasional spider doesn’t help matters, either. Still, this is an important place to keep tidy, so let’s plunge in.

1. Take a “before” photo of your under-sink area: Post it to your Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook account, and use the hashtag #kitchncure. It’s OK — most of us need to work on this area. You are not alone!

2. Empty and clean: Remove everything and wipe the area clean with all-purpose cleaner and a sponge.

3. Evaluate, relocate, combine, and toss: Take a look at what you’ve been keeping under your sink and ask yourself the all-important question: Is this really the best place to store this? Depending on your storage needs, you may have to say yes. But if possible, try to limit your under-sink storage to those things you immediately need for that location: dishwashing soaps and supplies, general kitchen cleaning supplies, trash bags, etc. Relocate anything that can be relocated. Combine half-used products if possible and toss all old and disgusting rags and sponges. In fact, toss all manner of old and disgusting things.

4. Consider a total makeover: There are many clever tricks you can use to organize your under-the-sink area. This is a good time to reconfigure and reorganize anything that isn’t working for you.

Helpful links:

5. Return items and make a list: Return your items to the area, wiping clean and labeling as needed. Make a list of anything you need to replace or would like to pick up to help with organization.

6. Take an “after” photo of your under-sink area: Share your triumph and organizing ideas. Take a photo and post it to your Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook account, and use the hashtag #kitchncure.

The Trash Can and Recycling Area

Our under-the-sink area is often our trash and recycling area, too, so this is a good time to give everything a good scrubbing.

To Clean the Recycling Area:

  1. Do a run to your main outdoor recycling area to empty your bins.
  2. Spray the inside of your bins with all-purpose cleaner and wipe down.
  3. Repeat for the outside.

Corralling trash and recycling is always a big challenge, especially in older kitchens where there often isn’t built-in space for such things. I solve this by taking my trash and recycling out every other day to avoid overflow, but that’s not convenient for everyone. Do you have any clever recycling solutions to share with us? Let us know in the comments!

A Few Words on Taking a Break, Tea or Otherwise

Consider this a mini PSA to remind you that it’s very important to take a break in the middle of a lot of cleaning, sorting, and other taxing activities. Be you a hummingbird, snail, or Tlaquepaque chicken (thank you, @eilonwy!), pausing and stepping back allows for an opportunity to refresh both mind and body.

We often don’t take a break because we’re afraid of losing momentum or we don’t think we have the time. We’re conditioned to power through our chores, with our eyes fixed firmly on the end point. But what we don’t realize is how much can be gained by a brief rest; how a break can actually improve the final outcome of whatever it is we’re working on. Pausing in the middle of intense work gives us an opportunity to reflect, to perhaps come up with a new or better approach to our labors. Our bodies also need a few moments to recover and bounce back to avoid injury.

I like to have a cup of strong black tea on my breaks. It gives me just enough of a boost to return to the task and take it to the finish line. But sometimes, a glass of water is enough to refresh and invigorate. If things are really intense, a small snack might be called for. Something simple, like

a piece of unfrosted cake

I hope you take up the practice of giving yourself a short break when working in the kitchen, be it during this final week of the Cure or when you are engaged in cooking or cleaning projects in the future. Try sitting down for a few moments at your kitchen table if you have one, hoist yourself onto your counter, or drag that chair you used in day 1 back in. Spend a few moments just hanging out, not doing anything — just observing and resting and taking in a little sustenance. Use this golden time to reconnect with yourself and the space around you, and to give your body what it needs to keep you going.

(Image credit: Henry Chen)

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