My parents have often joked that they know when I’m visiting because the kitchen is always 10x messier than normal. In fact, my mom’s self-appointed job when I am cooking for all of us is to follow me around and clean up after me. Spoons disappear from the counter 5 seconds after I’ve stirred the chili and are washed, dried and put away by the time that I need them again.
Despite mom’s best efforts, I never did learn to keep a clean kitchen. In fact, I was so bad at cleaning my kitchen after each meal, that I became very good at cleaning a lot of dirty dishes at once. If you share in that struggle, you may want to read 5 Steps To Clean a Really Messy Kitchen Never let it be said that I try to pretend that I’m perfect and have it all together!
However, a few months after we started RVing fulltime I realized that my kitchen was staying a lot cleaner than usual. In fact, it was getting cleaned at every mealtime, without any conscious effort on my part.
This, my friends, was truly a miracle.
Last night, I deviated from my normal routine and am now facing two meals worth of dishes to clean before breakfast, so I thought it would be a good exercise to write a post on what I have been doing that keeps my kitchen clean with minimal effort.
Three Rules To Effortlessly Maintain A Clean Kitchen
Rule #1: The number of plates, bowls, and eating utensils cannot exceed the number of people living in your home.
This will seem extreme, I know. But, if you have only have one place setting for each person then you’ll automatically be forced to wash dishes before you can eat the next meal.
If you have lots of lovely, expensive place settings, you don’t have to get rid of them. But do box them up and put them in a closet so that you won’t be tempted to use them unless you have company.
Rule #2: You may only have (1) of each type of cooking vessel.
Go through your cabinets and pack up any multiples that you have. If you have 3 large casserole dishes and 2 small ones, then you may leave 1 large and 1 small casserole dish in your cabinet. If you have two sets of mixing bowls, put one int storage. This goes for kitchen utensils and equipment too.
Again, the point of this rule is to force you to wash dishes before you can cook the next meal. Packing up all of this stuff will seem scary but you will likely never miss any of these things.
Rule #3: You may not do anything while cooking a meal except clean the kitchen.
What do you do when the chili needs to simmer for 30 minutes? I used to wander off to another room to watch tv, read a book, or spend a few minutes in front of the computer. And that is where I went wrong.
That is now my time for washing up the plates and utensils from lunch and washing any dishes that have gotten dirty while I cooked. My goal is to have everything clean before supper except for the pots and pans that actually have food in them.
Why This Works
This system works because you are forced to wash dishes in order to prepare and serve the next meal. But, the “forcing” is not onerous because there are never that many dishes to watch at once. In fact, I rarely have more than one sink-ful to wash at a time and I can easily take care of that amount in less than 10 minutes.
We do not have a dishwasher, but even when we are in a house with a dishwasher, John and I find that we miss the simple system of limited dished and handwashing that we have in the RV. If we were to build a small house at some point, we would NOT add a dishwasher to the kitchen.
Your daily routine will probably govern when you wash dishes. I do not try to make myself wash the supper plates after supper. Instead I wash the supper dishes and breakfast dishes during our morning chore time. (This is possible because we generally use plates at supper and bowls at breakfast). That means that I don’t have to do any washing before I start preparing lunch. The lunch dishes are then washed while supper cooks. This is what works for me, but if you have a rushed morning you may need to do it differently.
If you have children who are old enough to toddle around, then they can be of some help. If you keep your plates, bowls and utensils on low shelves, teven a two-year old can put dishes away. My seven year old does most of the dish-drying, but he’s currently training to do the dish washing and my four year old is learning to dry dishes.