08/14/13

5 easy ways to keep your kitchen sparkling clean

8974DBFF7BA443C2DD5A4C5FB8B2Let’s face it…cleaning the kitchen is a drag, but it’s also part of cooking.

In fact, the less tidy and organized the kitchen, the harder it is to cook in. A clean kitchen is also healthier and safer for you and your family.

Make cleaning second nature, and you’ll find that cooking becomes a lot easier, and a lot more fun!

Here are some simple, “pro-active” kitchen cleaning tips that will keep your kitchen cleaner and less cluttered.

1. Get Organized/Stay Organized

Have a place for everything. Let’s face it, it’s hard to clean up when you’re faced with a pile of stuff that doesn’t have a place to go.

I used to keep all of my utensils stuffed into a couple of overflowing drawers. After years of frustration, I finally realized that a) I have way to much junk in the utensil drawers, and a purge was in order (have I used this in the last year? No? TOSS!), and b) I was spending WAY too much time digging through stuff to find the one thing I needed.

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For about five bucks, I found these tin vases that could sit in my counter and organize my gear into wood, metal, and plastic, which left the drawer available for the few items with didn’t fit easily in the vases (like tongs), and made putting away my cooking gear a quick, easy, and organized chore.

(And…yes, I know…I’m a bit of a wooden spoon junkie…)

Later, when I decided to reclaim my counter space, I hung the vases on hooks, off the end of the counter, freeing up even MORE space!

Supreme_13X13_Fa_50dc90f12baee2. Ditch the sponge

Any sponge that been used more than once or twice is usually a disgusting bacteria motel, and a great way to spread germs. If you’d ever seen a week-old sponge under a microscope, I promise…you’d never buy another one.

Growing up in professional kitchens, I almost never saw a sponge. Instead, there were always stacks of white “bar-mops” or small hand-towels. They were easy to bleach, absorbent, and could be washed and dried on regular basis, making them way more hygienic and safe that any sponge. We typically kept a couple in a bucket of bleach water to wipe down counters, stove-tops, and knives between uses.

The also made great pot holders, and the occasional tourniquet…try that with a Scotch Brite!

Sure, they cost a little more up front, but figure what you’re spending using paper towels and sponges for a year, and you’ll probably find you’ll at least break even. Better for the environment, too!

3. Clean as you go

Nothing is more demoralizing, in the post-cooking letdown, than a sink and counter covered with dirty dishes. (Trust me, I know.)

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Before you start cooking fill your sink half full of hot, soapy water, and place a pitcher or large bowl of hot clean water on the counter next to it. As you cook, drop pots, pans and utensils (but not your knives*) that you think you’re done with, into the sink. Anything you think you may use again, put in the pitcher.

This is an old restaurant trick that keeps food from drying on dishes and utensils, allowing them to be re-used with just a quick rinse, as well as prepping the ones you’re done with for easy clean up.

Every time you have a free moment in your prep and cooking, wash what’s in the sink and put it in the dishwasher. Just one or two pots at a time add up quick. You’ll be amazed at what a relief it is to end a meal with a clean kitchen!

*Knives should be rinsed in hot water, wiped dry, and returned to their block or holder after every use. Never drop a knife in a sink full of water…it’s bad for the knife, and worse for your fingers.

4. Nuke that crud!

One of the biggest pains in the kitchen is cleaning dried up food crud off the ceiling and walls of the microwave.

Try this:

Place a small bowl of water and vinegar (50/50) in the microwave and heat it on high for  five minutes. Let it sit there with the door closed for another five  minutes to allow the steam to loosen the goop, then use the damp towel to easily wipe it away!

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Don’t like the lingering smell of vinegar in your microwave? Repeat the process using 50/50 water and lemon juice.

FYI…this trick works in the oven, too!

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

5. Five in Five

Lastly, get in the habit of spending just 5 minutes doing these 5 chores after every meal:

~ Wipe down the sink after loading the dishwasher (30 seconds).
~ Wipe down the stove top (1 minute).
~ Wipe down the counters (1 minute).
~ Sweep or vacuum the kitchen floor (2-3 minutes).

kitchen15min-lA clean desk may indeed be the sign of an unstable mind, but a clean and well organized kitchen is the sign of a happy cook!

Cook happy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com