5 Things I Clean “Wrong” in the Kitchen That I Just Refuse to Change — For Now, Anyway

published May 17, 2023
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Someone putting plate into dishwasher.
Credit: Joe Lingeman

I do plenty of things “wrong,” and cleaning the kitchen is certainly one of them. There are only so many hours in a day, and the good enough cleaning I manage to do after meals is exactly that — good enough. 

This isn’t meant to be a how-to. It’s more of a confessional, but with zero shame. If you’re at a place in life in which you have the energy and enthusiasm to devote to polishing copper pots, or steam cleaning every inch of your kitchen, that’s awesome, and I applaud you. There are plenty of articles that will help you do just that. 

But if you’re as overwhelmed and tired as I am, this one’s for you. Here are five things I do “wrong” in the kitchen when it comes to cleaning — according to some people, that is. 

1. I put “hand-wash only” items in the dishwasher.

Full disclosure, I do baby my knives, but, for many tools, I choose to read “hand-wash only” as a company’s way to avoid responsibility if the item proves not to be very durable. Plus, washing by hand wastes a lot of water (unless you’re in the Navy). 

2. I skip washing altogether.

We camp regularly in the summer, reusing knives, cutting boards, and plates for days without bothering to wash them. A quick wipe with a damp towel and we’re ready for the next meal. And you know what? We don’t die. If guests are coming over, that’s a different story, but when it’s just us at home? I will wash the cutting board when it smells of onion, and not before. (Unless I cut raw chicken or something like that on it.)

3. I take the term “self-cleaning” literally.

My oven has a self-cleaning function, and while, no, it doesn’t make my oven sparkle like new, it’s fine. Pumice stones are for other people, at least for now. 

4. I “clean” with water six days out of seven.

I pull out my cleaning spray once a week on family cleaning day. Otherwise — unless I’m working with raw meat — I use a damp towel to wipe down the counters. It was good enough for my grandma, and it’s good enough for me. 

5. I embrace the patina.

My baking sheets are “well-seasoned” (read: covered in those brown spots that refuse to be scrubbed off with soap and water). But do you know what makes the spots disappear with zero effort? A sheet of parchment paper laid on top.

Someday there will be time to clean like it’s 1920, but that day is not today. For now, I’m going to prioritize making these lemon brownies instead. 

What do you clean “wrong” in the kitchen? Let us know in the comments!