Quickie Clean Up: the Kitchen

Spring cleaning often involves deep, intensive cleaning, but the next few weeks I am going to offer tips on quick cleaning. This is the sort of cleaning we should do on a regular basis, but more importantly it is cleaning we can do in a hurry, for instance, when you find out your relatives are going to drop by for dinner, or your husband invites friends over for a game night. 

Since my kitchen is the first room people see when they enter my house that is where I am going to start. I am going to try to keep this to ten steps.

1. Put away clean dishes. (I always have dishes sitting in the drying rack and in the dishwasher after it is done washing. By putting away all the clean dishes you not only have bowls and spoons available for guests, but you have a free dishwasher to start loading up again.)

2. Load the dishwasher.

3. Wash and dry all other dishes and put away. (I do not put certain pans, sharp knives and some of my plastic storage containers in the dishwasher, so what often happens is a pile to the right of my sink of dirty dishes. Get them done. Less clutter on the counter means a nicer looking kitchen.)

4. Clean off the counter tops. (When you are washing those extra dishes take your soapy dish rag and clean off all your counter tops including under the toaster or other small appliances. Don't forget to remove excess papers and other mail that tend to accumulate on the counter. If you are not ready to throw it away, find a place for it at your desk or designate a tray or drawer for papers.)

5. Clean off the table. (My kitchen table is not only the place for eating, but serves as a desk for doing paperwork and a central area for socialization. Sometimes placing a nice wooden or decorative tray at one end of the table can help corral the mail or magazines, not yet looked at. Try to get to this paper as soon as possible, but if you are in a bind, the tray and all it's contents can easily be picked up and moved to an out of the way location while company is visiting.)

6. With the same soapy water that you were doing dishes in you can wipe down the outside of the fridge, stove, microwave and dishwasher. This simple act can make your appliances look like new. (For tough grease or sticky stains you might need a tougher cleanser such as Mr. Clean Multi-Surface or Windex Multi-Surface with vinegar.)

7. Wipe down the outside of your cupboards. It is best to use something for wood surfaces such as Murphy's Oil Soap. Just follow the directions on the bottle and you'll have fresh looking cupboards in a flash.

8. Shake out any rugs you might have on the floor. If it is a nice day. I like to shake them, then hang them to let the air freshen them as well. (It is also useful to have more than one set of rugs. I have a rug right inside the doorway so when people step in they can wipe their feet or remove their shoes if they are snowy or muddy. I also have a rug at the sink area. A little padding beneath your feet can make washing the dishes more tolerable and the rug soaks up some the the water that may spatter while I am rinsing or washing.)

9. Empty the garbage. (There is nothing worse than a smelly garbage can, no matter where you keep it.)

10. Sweep and mop the entire floor. (Be sure to remove the dust bunnies that accumulate around the chair and table feet. If time allows use a floor cleaner specifically designed for your flooring type. If you are strapped for time, a Swiffer works great, but make sure the Swiffer clothes are safe for your flooring.)

I've found doing these ten steps keeps my kitchen fresh and clean, even if my fridge is dirty or there is food expiring in my pantry. Those things we will deal with another time.

If you are really in a bind, you can skip some of the steps, like shaking out the rugs and mopping, or wiping down the cupboards, and major appliances. As long as the counter is clean and the sink free of dishes, the table wiped and the floor swept, your kitchen will still look neat and clean.

Next week we will take a look at our bathrooms. Be sure to come back for more Quickie Clean Up tips.