I am going to let you all in on a little personal secret. I like having a clean home.
Actually, to lay things bare, when my home is dirty, cluttered or in disarray I get a little twitchy. OK, perhaps a lot twitchy. I do stop short of the OCD germaphobe level, because with 6 people and several domesticated animals living in my home, that would be both unhealthy and impossible. I can’t and don’t expect perfection, but I do enjoy and crave cleanliness and an overall sense of organization. Sometimes in group settings where other mothers like to swap “war stories” about whose house is the messiest, I kind of grimace and hope no one calls on me to share. I can’t even pretend. It’s not that there aren’t times when we are not at our best, it’s just that over the past 2 decades of my life, I have worked fairly hard to create both personal and familial processes in order to help keep my house organized and running smoothly.
I am a BIG believer in Feng Shui and I feel that an organized home really aides in the mental balance and overall well being for all the inhabitants of a home. Recently I was chatting with one of my friends who asked me to share how I do what I do. I laughed and told her I wasn’t sure it was all that note worthy. She begged to differ and said a new series here on JENerally Informed focused on different processes on how I do things in my home would be welcome. So over the next few months, we will take it room by room and sometimes task by task in order to share what I hope is some helpful and translatable tips to help you do the same to tame your own situation. If you want to share your own tips, that would be welcome as well.
Today we will start in the kitchen!
Here are 10 tips and tricks for helping you to keep your kitchen clean. There is no magic solution, I wish there was, but small and manageable steps will help you to keep that high usage room in your house clean and tidy.
Let’s Talk About The Fridge First:
Be realistic when you go shopping.
Just because broccoli is way on sale does not mean you should buy 12 lbs of it if you know that your family will eat maybe only about 1 lb. Buying 12 lbs in general means that in about 2 weeks you will need to be cleaning out moldy and smelly broccoli from your fridge. That being said, there are times where I will buy sale items in bulk to vacuum seal and freeze. I only do that when I have the time to do so. Having it sit and rot in my fridge is of little value to me, so make sure to buy what you and your family will eat. It will save you both time and money in the long run.
How about Leftovers.
Does your family regularly eat them? If the answer is no, then I would suggest you think twice about putting leftovers in your fridge. I have tried making meals that were a flop with my family and sticking the remnants back in my fridge, like somehow age will make the meal more palatable is not a good idea. I hate to waste food, but those types of meals just need to get tossed.
Now because time is limited, I regularly do leftover nights where we heat and reheat our leftovers. This cuts down on cooking time and puts all of the good leftovers to use. Also consider buying small and inexpensive Tupperware containers that leftovers can be portioned into and easily put into lunch bags for the next day.
Purging. How often?
I usually clean out and toss mostly empty condiments, cake frosting and such about once a month. I also take stock of and empty the rest of the fridge about once or twice a month. Wiping the shelves as I go. This allows me to use that broccoli in something before it goes bad….
Managing Kitchen Cabinets and Pantries
I try to sort my shelves by food/meal items; lunch, breakfast, snack and other non perishables. Meaning cereal, oatmeal and pop tarts are one shelf etc., etc. This allows my family easy access to what they need and helps the shoppers in the family to see when we are short or low on something. It also alerts us to when not to re-buy something if it has sat on the shelf for too long; cutting down on wasted food and over buying items we don’t need.
This same method also works well for spices, and cooking supplies. I group them for baking, grilling, etc and toss out empty or expired spices about 4 times per year. Or once per season.
As far as cleaning the shelves, I usually wipe them down once a year by taking out the contents of each shelf and wiping them down with a sponge and wet, soapy water.
Performing The Great Wipe Down.
I keep my cleaning supplies in a safe place where my older children, spouse and I can easily grab and use to help with wipe downs, because kitchen sinks, counters and trash cans can get pretty germy. I Lysol our trash can a few times a month and spray liquid cleaner in my kitchen sink and on counters about once a week. Doing this right after mealtime clean-up and with empty sinks and counters is a pretty easy task to do. It takes only about a minute and is done.
Keeping The Scary Out Of The Microwave.
To keep your microwave clean, I suggest using a splatter lid to keep food from spraying.. My children know that, “he who sprays it gets to clean it!” A splatter lid can be thrown into the dishwasher or rinsed and put back in the microwave to dry. I usually toss the glass turntable in the microwave into the dishwasher about twice a month and hit the walls and base of the microwave with liquid cleaner and a sponge about once a month.
Cleaning Your Oven and Range The Pain Free Way
I clean my oven and burners about 4 times a year. Once every season. I spray water and baking soda and let them sit over night. When I wake up the next morning, all of the gunk and grime is easily cleaned up with the help of a good bristle brush and a sponge. Also, toss burner pans into the dishwasher about once a month and your oven will be good to go!
If you have a glass cook-top, invest in a good non-scratching cleaning product and wipe down after heavy spills or at least once a week.
Cleaning Out Your Garbage Disposal
I use lemon essential oil and crushed ice. Toss it in the garbage disposal and run water in the sink and turn on the disposal to clean it.
The Low Down On Dirty Dishes.
I detest waking up to a kitchen full of dirty dishes. The morning is already so rushed and having a sink and dishwasher full of dirty dishes makes for unneeded AM stress. To avoid this, at meal time each of my children is required to stack their rinsed dishes in the dishwasher and help clear the table. If the dishwasher is full and needs to be run, I have taught my children how to start it. They are then required to help empty it, rinse and re-load our plates from the current meal. We take turns doing this and chat as we do it.
Mostly it is just consistency that I have found works best. If you do something often enough it becomes routine and doesn’t pile up on you.
Keeping Trash and Recycling Under Control.
In my kitchen I have a container stashed in a corner to hold our recycling. Once it is full, it’s taken out to the larger container in the yard. Usually about twice a week. This helps to reduce the number of trips and also keeps the empty boxes and packages from cluttering up my counter.
As far as trash management, a full bag gets taken out ASAP. I might keep it around during meal prep in order to toss out cooking items as I go, but bags of trash piled in a corner are in general something only done on humongous cooking days like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
After the meal is over one family member is tasked to take out the trash bag and, voila we are done!
Are there any places in your kitchen you struggle to keep clean? If so, feel free to leave a comment and I will see if there is something I do that might be helpful.
Thanks for stopping in and may all your kitchens be clean-ish :)
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