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Keeping a Clean Kitchen

So, I live with two other people, and we all like to cook, but we struggle with keeping the kitchen clean. There's been a lot of finger-pointing, bickering, and general discontentment,

Before there is any blood spilled and left to dry until it forms a hardened crust, could anyone offer advice on how to keep a clean kitchen?


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  1. Do you clean up as you go? Alternatively, when one cooks the other two clean and all three of you have to agree to a minimum level.

      1. You cooked it, you clean up after it, if it was cooked for you, you clean for thank you, you used it, you put it away/clean it. You stepped on it, you sweep wash it. You used the last, you replace it, make sure it's o the list to buy more.

        If that is too hard, a set chore list. But let's face it, it's individual responsibility and all acting adult.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Quine

          Thanks Quine. It is not that difficult if everyone acts like RESPONSIBLE adults.

        2. Find new roommates, or get a place with two more kitchens.

          1. I see disposables in your future.

            1. When I was in college, I lived one year with four other roommates. What we worked out was that on weekdays, each of us would cook once and the other four would clean. The appliances and counters had to be clean, the dishwasher loaded and usually running before anyone of the other four left the kitchen. It worked pretty well for us once we got the guys clear on what constituted a balanced meal, which took a few weeks. On the weekends, the kitchen was usually a mess until Sunday night, when at least a couple of us would put it back together for the week ahead.

              If you all can't come to an agreement on standards of cleanliness, I see trouble ahead. I think it helps to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement, because if no one can appreciate the others' efforts, there are going to be resentments about distribution of work. I will say that we continued to squabble all year about who drank the milk.

              1. Why oh why is it so hard to get adults to act like adults?!?

                In our kitchen, the rule is clean as you go and clean up after your own messes. That means cleaning up after yourself when cooking and serving unless agreed upon otherwise. My husband and I often swap (i.e., he cooks and I clean up or vice versa) but we never assume that's the case.

                I also had to have a throwdown with my mother (she and my father have lived with us the past 5-1/2 years...oyy!) about this issue. She loves to have me cook for the family and I am happy to do so, but I am not happy to come home after working all day and running my kid around to stuff and then clean up after her trail of kitchen messes before starting dinner. So I told her that I wouldn't cook for her in a kitchen she messed up. Then I had to show her I meant it by following through when she left a mess for me the next time. Lesson learned. Sigh. It is tedious trying to parent your own parents.

                1. When sharing with room-mates, I find that simply cleaning up after yourself isn't enough, even if you're trying hard. It will get it mostly clean, but at least once or twice a week someone needs to do a specific kitchen cleaning - scrubbing the dish drainer, clearing everything off the counter and washing it, sweeping and mopping the floor. If you've got two or three people cooking dinner on a particular night, or one person cooking while the other does their own dishes, then it can be hard to effectively clean up on the go.

                  1. Different people have different ideas of what "cleaning up" means. For example, one person might tidy up but not actually clean while another would move stuff around and clean but not tidy up and a third would look at a disaster area and think it's as tidy as it could be. One solution would be to get together with your roommates and make a checklist of what needs to be cleaned/ put away in every area.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hala

                      This is a big part of it. Also, different people tend to notice different things. This is more general than a kitchen, but a running joke w/ my SO is how we're almost like jack spratt & his wife when it comes to neatness. She sees a dusty room and cries, "this is so filthy! it needs cleaning!" but tends to accumulate clutter. I loathe clutter and will complain that the room is messy, but I don't really mind dustiness and such.

                      We're similar in the kitchen, the things that I notice & that tend to annoy me are the things that she doesn't notice and vice versa. Thus, we're always blaming the other for leaving the kitchen a mess.

                    2. Some people are neater/messier than others. If you're a super neat person living with people who are fairly messy, you need to understand that the messy person will never care to live up to your standards. It's frustrating and you may find it unfair, but it's just a fact that if you care about ____, it's easier to do it yourself rather than wait for someone else to do it.

                      That said, a shared living space should have some standards. But you all need to come up with a reasonable compromise about is acceptable and abide by it, whether than means a weekly chore list or whatever, and an agreement that the kitchen is cleaned up after someone uses it.

                      If it's in the budget, a monthly visit from a housecleaner can be a godsend, especially in roommate situations. If they only clean the common areas, it can be a very reasonably priced, especially when split 3 ways.

                      1. Take it in turns - if you can agree to cook meals for 3; one person cooks, one person washes up, one person makes sure everything is put away and clean and tidy. It'll save you money on food and energy bills too.

                        1. I live with one other person who fantically cleans and tidies up while cooking on. It does my head in.

                          On the other hand, I am a middle aged for whom the concept of covering every surface with every pan whlst I'm cooking is second nature. But at least my freaking knife is where I left it instead of having to search for it in the freaking dshwasher for the third freaking time each freaking evening.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Harters

                            Wait, you've lived with my ex-SO or my sister?!?!?!

                            1. re: Harters

                              You're living with my mother, Harters. I'm so sorry.

                            2. Clean as you go is the only way to make it work, with a joint or rotating cleaning periodically. The problem with clean as you go can be as follows

                              1. Putting your dirty dishes (etc) in the sink.
                              2. Washing your dirty dishes (etc) and putting them in the dish drainer.
                              3. Washing and drying your dirty dishes (etc.) and putting them away.

                              Any of the three is better than leaving them where they lay, and an insistence on any one of the three is going to generate friction from someone (but if I wash everything when it is used, it wastes water - and if you grew up in california during the drought years, this is not a whiny excuse.)

                              As wattacetti said in the first reply, CAYG and agree on what that means, what the minimum's are. I would add in a 'grace period' so that you can eat the toast while it is still warm from the toaster or letting pans sit till after dinner is over, etc.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                I would hate to be in a situation where I have to clean up after someone else so I agree, clean as you go, Seriously, there are many out there that are sloppy cooks, I wouldn't want to be the one scraping the walls.