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For Us Cooks: As You Cook Up A Storm, How Do You Keep Your Kitchen Clean?

My sister and I love to cook, and do so almost every day. The trouble is, our mother, bless her soul, never really taught us to clean. And we "sometimes" let the dishes go for a day or two (or even three, blush), then are left with not only a ton of dishes, but a dirty floor, crusty countertops, you get the picture!
Then, when we DO have to clean, it takes forever and tons of work just to get the kitchen looking decent again.
Other than "clean as you go", do you have any tried and true ideas, thoughts, and/or tricks to help us keep our kitchen clean, and not look as if a bomb hit it, all the time?
And yes, we have a dishwasher.
And no, we are the only two that live here; no children, etc., to help us.
And no, we have no money to hire someone to clean.

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  1. Other than hiding the dirty dishes/pots under your bed for that no-bomb-look, it seems there is no other worthy answer to your dilemma than: clean as you go. This is the most important, valuable lesson my husband got from his professional cooking classes (although he's just an amateur who loves to cook). Before that, the sink would get piled high, making it difficult to get a glass of water. Why not share the chore with you sister - when she cooks, you clean right behind her, and vice versa?

    6 Replies
    1. re: boredough

      Well, we both attack the cooking at the same time!
      AND we both hate to clean!
      Bad, huh?

      1. re: aurora50

        uh yeah....but if not for just health issues (crusty countertops), I think your "system" (not) doesn't work. There is no way to make the problem magically disappear, so you & your sister need to change the way you look it. It's no more a chore than cooking is. Or change your cooking habits and don't both cook at the same time. In the end, you might find you actually like having a clean kitchen all the time!

        1. re: boredough

          awww, but they appear to like cooking together, why ruin that? Happily cooking with a family member >>> sparkling clean kitchen.

          1. re: im_nomad

            But if you consider "cooking" to be a 2-part task : stove/oven action + cleaning up, then they would still be doing just that. I personally enjoy cleaning up after my husband (the cook), and I think the sisters just need a different perspective about this aspect of the "job". It's also easier to clean up when you're not doing the cooking, and, as everyone's already said, easier to clean as you go than tackling a mass of pots & pans (plus a full sink) when you're stuffed from dinner.

            1. re: boredough

              It's WAY easier to clean as you go... the dishes are simple to clean when the mess is fresh. I have to admit that I tend to let things pile up for a few days because I loathe washing dishes (and we don't have a dishwasher) - but when I'm doing a big cooking job I'll clean as I go along and it's really much easier.

              And the most important tip? As SOON as you spill something on the counter, wipe it up! After you've finished one stage of the cooking/food prep, grab the cloth and wipe the counter clean before you start the next one. There's no excuse whatsoever for crusty counters. Lax as I am about cleaning (don't look too hard at my floor...) my countertop is always sparkling.

              1. re: Kajikit

                Yes, we're learning that with wiping the counters. My aunt is a bit of a clean freak (in a good way), so we kind of HAVE to.
                But it's good training for the future, and it's teaching us. : )

    2. On occasion I'll ask my husband to help by washing up as I cook....he usually offers to help and I'll ask him to wash XYZ pan....helps with keeping the area neat......and as I'm cooking and say, waiting for a pan or oil to heat up, etc I'll toss stuff into the dishwasher instead of standing there....

      2 Replies
      1. re: jenscats5

        yeah, nobody likes doing it, including me. But I try to do it while I'm waiting for water to boil, or toast to brown, etc. That way it doesn't seem quite so much like "work".

        1. re: DGresh

          Agree! Doesn't seem to be as much work and the time waiting for water to boil goes by so much faster when I'm doing something....

      2. No way around it, as far as I know.
        The best laid plan is to clean as you go.

        1. Sounding like a broken record on purpose...
          Clean as you go.
          Clean as you go.
          Clean as you go.
          Clean as you go.
          Clean as you go.
          Clean as you go.
          Clean as you go...

          2 Replies
          1. re: ttoommyy

            >>>>Sounding like a broken record on purpose...
            Clean as you go.
            Clean as you go.
            Clean as you go.
            Clean as you go.
            Clean as you go.
            Clean as you go.
            Clean as you go...<<<<

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            1. re: Jay F

              +2
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              For clean as you go. It really isn't all that difficult, and although it does take practice, the results are worth it, like any cooking task!

          2. Yup another person who could benefit from Sam's Magic House. Insert colon dash close parenth

            As others have stated, clean as you go. It stinks, we all know that once you get into the saute and chop and stir and swirl mode it is hard to get out of that zone. You need to teach your brain as a part of the process. Similar to athletes needing a break to catch their breath, cooks need a break as well to re-group a little. While you are jointly cleaning talk about what you just did, figure +/-'s and then discuss what is next and responsibilites.

            Group cooking requires agroup dynamics, solo cooking requires discipline. You need to train yourself on both.

            Yesterday I made a huge vat of marinara while mrs j was out with one of the girls. When they returned the kitchen was clean and there were 6 bottles of sauce cooling. Huuuuuge smiles. Now that's a good cooking day.