11 Things I’ll Never Put on My Kitchen Counters or Table

published Mar 28, 2022
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When I was a kid, if there was a carton of milk on the kitchen table, someone would say in a warning tone, “Grandma’s looking in the window.” At first, I didn’t get it. My grandmother lived 1,500 miles away and was frail. If she’d come all that way to look in our windows, shouldn’t we invite her in?

Eventually, I figured out it was because my mom would have been mortified if her mother had ever come to our house and seen a packaged product on the table. Drinks were portioned into glasses or served from a pitcher; condiments were always in a dish.

It’s the way I do things to this day, although these rules are violated daily by my children. The other day, I caught my littlest one admonishing her sister for putting down a hairbrush “on the counter… where we prepare food,” in a pitch perfect imitation of me that dripped with the kind of in-on-the-joke sarcasm only a six-year-old could muster.

They can make fun of me all they want, though. Who leaves a hairbrush, or any other haircare product, someplace where food is prepared? In addition to hairbrushes, haircare products, and packaged products, here are 8 more things that don’t belong on your kitchen tables or counters (according to my grandma, my mom, and me, at least).

  • Handbags: My mom also taught me to never put my bag on the floor, but sometimes people do. And once something’s been on the floor, it should never, ever be on the kitchen table … where we eat.
  • School backpacks: See above.
  • Baby carriers: The above rule goes for baby carriers, too. A friend’s husband once walked into my home and put his baby’s car seat on our table. A car seat that I knew had been on the floor in airport bathrooms, in restaurants, and who knows where else.
  • Amazon packages: If they’re dropped on the ground before they make it into my home, they definitely don’t belong on a surface in my kitchen.
  • Library books: See above.
  • Phones: Yes, it’s bad manners to be on your phone at the table. But also, phones are filthy! 
  • Grocery bags: Remember in the early days of Covid when we used to disinfect everything before we brought it in the house? I can date my aversion to bags of groceries on the counter back to that era. Now, I just want whoever plunked the grocery bags down and walked out of the kitchen to come back and put away what’s in them. 
  • Flyswatters: Honestly, this one wouldn’t have occurred to me, but I saw a picture of a kitchen with one in it the other day and thought, “No, never.”

It’s hard to imagine my children ever inheriting my rules for what should and should not be on kitchen tables and counters, but I’d like to think that maybe in thirty years or so, when my daughter leaves her hairbrush on the counter for the zillionth time, she’ll feel just the teensiest stab of paranoia that I’m looking in the window.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 11 Things I’ll Never Put on My Kitchen Table or Counters