7 Things You Can (and Absolutely Should) Clean While You Cook

published Jan 7, 2023
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One of the best ways to keep your kitchen clean is cleaning while you cook — or, really, while you wait for something to cook. Instead of scrolling through TikTok while your sheet pan dinner or stovetop soup cooks, you could be unloading the dishwasher or wiping down the counters! In doing so, you’ll not only save your future self some valuable time, but you’ll also be able to enjoy a clean, cozy space when it’s time to eat.

Ahead, seven simple-but-impactful things you can easily clean while you cook.

1. Your Counters 

Cooking can get messy. Clean all the drips, splatters, and crumbs from your countertops once you’re done with the prep phase. Wipe down your countertops with your go-to all-purpose cleaner and use disinfectants on any potentially contaminated areas.

2. Your Dishes

While your food is on the stove or in the oven, tackle all the food prep items you used — cutting boards, mixing bowls, measuring cups, utensils — so you can get through post-meal dishes faster. Hand-wash or just rinse everything off and stick it in the dishwasher instead! Either way, you’ll have less work to do later.

3. Your Sink 

If you don’t have any dishes to hand-wash (lucky you!), clean your sink! First, give it a scrub with a sponge or dish wand and your favorite dish soap. Then, to make the inside of a metal sink shiny, dry it off and buff it with a few drops of olive oil on a microfiber cloth. Notice any smells in your garbage disposal? Run a few ice cubes and a spent lemon wedge down it to freshen things up!

4. Your Fridge Doors

You probably don’t have time to empty out and scrub the inside of your refrigerator, but you can definitely clean the outside. If you have a stainless steel fridge, grab your favorite stainless steel spray or wipes and spruce up the doors while your food is cooking. Make sure to follow the grain of the steel as you wipe. No matter what material your fridge is made of, a solution of white vinegar and water should also do the job. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Your Microwave

If it’s been a while since you cleaned the inside of your microwave, now’s the perfect time. Find a microwave-safe bowl, then fill it with two cups of water and two tablespoons of vinegar. Run the microwave for five or so minutes, then allow the solution to sit for a couple of minutes. The steamy vinegar will break down stuck-on gunk, making it much easier to wipe everything down. Just be careful with the hot bowl!

6. Your Floors 

You probably can’t deep-clean your entire kitchen floor before your meal finishes, but you can sweep or vacuum. Spend a few minutes removing dust, dirt, and crumbs from the floors, so the floors are bare when it’s time to mop! If you have a few extra minutes, dust the baseboards, too.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Your Coffee Maker 

As long as you’re not cooking breakfast, you should be able to clean your drip coffee maker while the oven does its work. Over time, minerals build up inside, which can affect the taste of your morning brew. Simply fill the reservoir with equal parts tap water and distilled white vinegar, then run a brew cycle. For extra oomph, stop the brew cycle halfway through to let the solution sit for 30 minutes, then start it again. Afterward, dump out the carafe and rinse. It may take longer than your cooking, but at least you can get the process started!