5 Tips for People Who Hate Cleaning Up After Dinner

updated Jul 2, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

You know what’s almost as bad as facing a dirty kitchen when it’s time to cook dinner? Facing that dirty kitchen after you’ve cooked said dinner. The unfortunate consequence of a making a home-cooked meal is the mess — having to clean the pots, the pans, the counters, etc.

Cleaning up after dinner is no fun. Sometimes the allure of “letting stuff soak” turns into a well-deserved night of neglecting the dirty kitchen until you drift off to sleep watching Netflix and barely manage to relocate to the bed when the credits start rolling. 

The problem is, then, you’re going to have to face that dirty kitchen in the morning and that’s not a pleasant way to start the day. It really is best to just get it all done in the same night. Here are a few tips to help.

Credit: Faith Durand

1. Keep a bowl of warm, soapy water by the sink while you cook.

This way, as you’re finished using smaller stuff (utensils and measuring spoons, for example), you can slip them right into the bowl. Doing so will keep the bottom of your sink clear of clutter (more space for you to work and rinse bigger dishes!) and make it easier to clean these items when it’s time.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Clean the big stuff first.

Chances are, that mountain of dishes only looks giant because a few big pots are taking up a lot of space. Start by washing the biggest things first and you’ll see how much progress you’re making right away. This won’t be so bad. I promise.

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3. Set a timer.

Cleaning up takes way less time than you think it does. Set a timer for five or 10 minutes and clean what you can before it dings. Don’t race the clock; just work at your usual speed. You’ll probably get through way more than you’d expect — you’ll either be totally done or pretty darn close. And maybe you’ll then have the momentum and inspiration to just finish the job.

4. Don’t be afraid to call in the reinforcements.

It’s 2020, which means there are lots of incredibly effective products out there to help you. Kitchn’s Lifestyle Director, Lisa Freedman, recently fell pretty hard for this new Dawn Powerwash spray, which really helps to eliminate the need for scrubbing. And plenty of staffers use these Bottle Bright tabs for cookware, too. The point? Some jobs call for a little more than regular ol’ soap and water. Arm yourself with the right tools/cleaners and the tasks will be much easier.

Buy: Dawn Ultra Platinum Powerwash Dish Spray Bundle, $9 at Bed Bath & Beyond

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Remind yourself that waiting only means more work later.

Waiting to clean up after dinner doesn’t just put it off until later; doing so actually makes the task harder than it needs to be. When food dries on dirty dishes, counters, and the stove it’ll take longer to clean and require more effort. Do you feel like cleaning right now? No. But will it be more for Future You if you put it off? Yes, certainly.

How do you clean up the kitchen when you just don’t feel like it? Share your tips and motivational thoughts in the comments below!