Your kitchen is the most important room in the house – they don’t say it’s the heart of the home for nothing! It’s where you prepare food and is often a source of both physical and emotional nourishment. How often at a party or get-together does everyone congregate in the kitchen? Every. Single. Time.
A clean and orderly kitchen can be shining, beautiful and welcoming. A messy and uncared-for kitchen may make you feel stressed out – especially if you have guests over. There are simple ways to keep your kitchen looking its best. Here are some tips.
Cleaning: Ways and Means
Cleanliness is a bedrock of a great kitchen. Try the following steps for ensuring a sparking area.
1. Have a Schedule
Experts agree: Cleaning is easier if it’s a routine. Wiping down kitchen counters, for example, may take a long time if you only do it every once in a while. You have several layers to clean, and may be dealing with dried stains that will take time and a considerable amount of elbow grease to remove. If you can wipe them down daily, it will take just minutes rather than an hour once a month.
2. Keep Cleaning Supplies on Hand
Nothing puts a damper on a cleaning plan more quickly than having to look around or go to another room/storage area/closet for supplies. Keep your kitchen cleaning supplies close at hand. A lazy Susan under the sink, for example, might hold spray cleaners and baking soda. Keep your cleaning sponges in a container separate from your dishwashing sponges, but both should be nearby. Make sure to babyproof if you’ve got little ones roaming around!
3. Clean Green
Many people assume they need harsh chemicals to clean a kitchen, at least in some places. Not true. Baking soda, vinegar, and lemons all do a great cleaning job on a number of places – ovens, sinks, bathrooms, microwaves, carpet – I could go on, but I’ll spare you. There is no need to clean with something that’s not safe to breathe in!
4. Guard Against Permanent Stains
Cleaning up stains quickly is a must, for several reasons. Stains can take a long time to clean, that’s a given, so it’s wise to tackle when they happen. It’s quick and easy when tomato sauce is still liquid, for example, but a chore once it’s dried up on your stove top. Second, countertops can be permanently damaged by stains, or even from standing water. Guard against permanent stains with vigilance! Keep baking soda nearby to use, as it is the best cleaner and protective agent for most stains. If you’re lucky enough to have granite countertops, make sure you seal them as a preventative measure.
5. Sanitize Areas
It’s easy to sanitize, and given the importance of clean kitchens to health, it’s a great idea. After you clean, put a tablespoon of bleach in a gallon of warm water. Wipe the area you’re sanitizing. After five minutes minimum, rinse the area with water. Clean up any excess water. Or if you’re short on time, just do a quick once over with a disinfecting wipe!
Organization: A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place
If you want to keep your kitchen picture perfect, you need to make it orderly first. Try the following steps to start.
1. Start by Decluttering
Decluttering is a huge trend in the U.S. right now, as witnessed by the popularity of organization specialist Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” She advocates mercilessly getting rid of everything that does not bring joy. While this may not work completely in a kitchen, what does work is ruthlessly throwing away stuff you haven’t used in some time. We’re talking the turmeric you haven’t used in four years, the can of beans that expired last November or your second cheese grater. Toss if you haven’t used in a year.
2. Buy Clear Containers for Storage
Nothing beats a container you can see through for organizational power. Why? You don’t have to wonder what’s in it. No pulling down a canister to see if it holds sugar or flour and then putting it up again: you know. This is also a great help in organizing your shopping, because you can see if you’re low on pasta or rice with just a glance.
3. Use All Your Storage Area
Often, kitchens are disorganized because there isn’t sufficient space or the space isn’t being used well. Use every area to combat that. Lids for pans can be hung on the backs of cabinet doors, for example. Bottom drawers – which frequently fall into disuse as storage areas – can be opened easily with toe kicks. Install them and that space is instantly more accessible.
4. Think in Terms of Zones
An orderly kitchen is set up for logical use. If your kitchen isn’t logical in its organization, it will be much harder to keep it organized. Cleaning experts divide by zones: cooking, food storage, dish ware storage, prep areas, cleanup areas. Many specialists think the optimal setup of a kitchen is a triangle between stove, refrigerator and sink.
5. Organize Your Pantry
Pantry organization is key to seeing all your food. If a can of soup is in the back corner – especially if it’s not a walk-in pantry – it runs the risk of expiring rather than being eaten. Most pantries have shelves. Adjust the shelves at maximum height so you can put layers of shelving in them to hold more items. Wasted horizontal space? Use it up through mini-shelving or hanging holders.
A picture-perfect kitchen requires both cleanliness and organization. If you follow these tips you might just be able to have both!
Jennifer Landis is a 27-year-old healthy living blogger who loves yoga, running, and dancing it out with her toddler! You can find more from Jennifer at her blog, Mindfulness Mama, or by following her on Twitter: @jenniferelandis.