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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How to Be Awesome at Cleaning: Kitchen Edition

Since we have moved, I have tried to be better about keeping things clean.  One big reason for that is that I am home now, instead of working, so I have more time to do that.  I've especially gotten better about cleaning my kitchen, and it actually stays clean-ish most of the time.  That's like, Nobel-prize worthy compared to how it used to be.

Part of it is that I've gotten better about how I clean my kitchen.  I'll show you.  Here's my previous method:

1)  Don't ever clean the kitchen because you are too tired.  The fact that you even have dirty dishes means that you managed to provide food, so you deserve a gold star for that.  Now go sit down before you fall asleep in the refrigerator.

2)  Repeat step one for several days/weeks.

3)  Completely freak out because things are such a mess.  Use tears if necessary.

4)  Spend hours cleaning the kitchen, or guilting someone else into doing it. 

5)  Swear that you won't let it get that bad again.

6)  Repeat steps 1-5.

I will grant that this system has its flaws, and with some careful evaluation, one could probably come up with some improvements.  Nevertheless, that was my tried and true method for years.  Years, I tell you.


Well, at least not usually.

Now, my kitchen cleaning method goes like this:

1)  Clean kitchen in the morning.  This is the cleanest your kitchen will be all day. (Most of the cleaning tips, including Flylady, will tell you to clean it at night so that you have a gleaming kitchen to wake up to.  I haven't gotten there yet.  I kinda feel like, it's really all a big cycle, so who really cares what time of day the clean part of the cycle hits?)

2)  Bake, cook, prepare, and do other things that mess up the kitchen.

3)  Try to clean that stuff up as you go as much as possible.  It helps if the dishwasher is dirty, so you can just stick stuff in there.  Kitchen should be fairly clean before making dinner.

4)  Make dinner.  No matter what I'm making, if it's not spaghetti, it involves using at least 3 of the 5 main pots/skillets that we own, five plates, exactly half of the silverware, three spatulas, and a pair of tongs.  I don't know why, but that's always what seems to happen.

5)  Make a half-hearted attempt to clear the dishes after dinner, put away food, and leave the rest to do in the morning.

Hey, I didn't say it was a perfect method.  I just said it was better than the previous one.  At least there is a moment in each day when my kitchen is very clean, and several moments when it is at least decent.

Oh, and there are several awesome tools that will help you in cleaning the kitchen.

  • A scrubby sponge that is on the end of a handle and the handle holds soap--This is my best friend.  I don't even care so much that it automatically dispenses soap, because I do use my dishwasher, but I love not having to touch the sponge.  Those things are gross and wet and foamy and gross.  Eww.  Gross. 
  • A regular sponge with a scrubby side--I never use this, but Brian does.  I guess it's useful.
  • Rubber gloves--Brian uses these all the time.  I don't.  I mean, I hate touching dishwater, especially if it's cold, and I hate touching gross food that has been in the water, but I hate the smell of rubber gloves more.  Once you wear those things, that's what your hands smell like the rest of the day.  Plus, they're all powdery inside for some reason.  I just suck it up, touch the water, and then use lots of soap and hand sanitizer afterwards.
  • Steel wool--Actually, I think mine is copper wool, but whatever.  I don't use this very often 'cause everything is nonstick, but every now and then, your crock pot is just not gonna come clean by itself.
  • A spray nozzle on the faucet--We just got one of these for the first time when we moved.  It's awesome.
  • A disposal--We don't have one in our new house, and I miss it so much.  Like, every day.
  • A dishwasher--Part of me feels like this is a huge waste of time and money, because you have to wash everything before you put it in the dishwasher, but the other part of me trusts the system.  The system wouldn't lie to us, right?
  • Dish towels--You need like, a hundred of these, which is approximately how many we got for our wedding, so I guess that's good.  You need big ones to dry stuff with and small ones to wipe stuff with.  Bonus points if your small ones have a net side and a towel side.  Those things are awesome.
Lastly, there are several steps to actually doing the dishes.  I have refined my technique to the following:

1)  Find everything that can go in the dishwasher without any cleaning on your part.  The trick is to not turn on the water, and just throw stuff in there.  Cups, silverware, and other stuff that isn't very dirty falls into this category.  This is usually how I get myself motivated.  I just tell myself I'm just going to throw a few things in there, and it gets me warmed up.

2)  Find everything that just needs to be rinsed before it's put in the dishwasher.  I hate having a sink full of dirty water because that's GROSS, so I just run the water over stuff.  I realize this uses more water, but it uses less of me gagging, so it's a good trade off.

3)  Get down to the hard part, and get the stuff you actually have to scrub.  I have occasionally had to coach myself through this part with gummy worms. 

4)  Wash the stuff that has to be washed by hand, like pots and skillets.  This part, I have found, seems like the worst part, but it is not.  My pots and skillets are all nonstick, so usually they clean up really easily.  Dry them and put them away immediately.

5)  Wipe down counters and sink.  I usually use a dish towel and all-purpose spray cleaner.  Works great.

See?  Not so bad!  The only part that I really dislike is that once you are finished, your victory is short-lived.  Before you can turn around to receive your responsibility trophy, it's time to start all over!