Tips to Clean the Kitchen While You Cook

I grew up on a farm. Many days were spent feeding our family and the farm help. Mom used to cook in large quantities. If we were not cooking regular meals, we were canning produce or blanching items for the freezer. It was a must to clean as you cooked otherwise the kitchen was never clean and you never got out of the kitchen.

Here are some easy steps to clean as you cook. These steps work well if you are working alone in the kitchen or if two people are working together. One person can cook and the other can clean.

1. If you have a double sink, fill one side with warm soapy water ready for washing dishes. Keep the other side of the sink empty for cleaning vegetables and rinsing washed dishes, etc. For a single sink, use a plastic dishpan. You should still have enough room to rinse dishes or work on vegetables. Make sure the dish drainer is empty. If you have a dishwasher, make sure it is ready to be loaded for a new cycle of washing dishes.

2. The longer food is allowed to sit on dishes and pots and pans, the more work it is to clean them. Therefore, when you finish with an item, put it in the soapy water. When you have a break from cooking, like waiting for water to boil, food to cook or bake, etc., wash the dishes in the sink, rinse them, and put them in the dish drainer or the dishwasher depending on whether you will need to use them sooner or later.

3. Keep a clean dishcloth handy for wiping up spills on the counter, cupboards, and around the stove and other appliances. Wipe the counter as soon as you are done with a task like chopping vegetables or working with meat.

4. If you have worked with a cutting board, clean it off as soon as you are done. If you used it for meat preparation or you do not need to use it anymore for that meal, wash it off in the dish water, rinse it and put it in the dishwasher for added sanitation.

5. As you use appliances like mixers, blenders, food processors, etc., wash the appliance in the dishwater thoroughly by taking pieces apart, rinse and let them drain off in the dish drainer. Dry the pieces and reassemble the appliance. Put the appliance away. Store leftover ingredients like cookie dough in the refrigerator in some plastic containers or storage bags.

6. If you use multiple pans for your meals and you combine the ingredients into a basic pot, let the pans cool on a hot pad near the sink to prevent possible warping. When they have cooled off sufficiently, wash them in the hot sudsy water, rinse with clear water, and put them in the dish drainer. Remember when you are cooking to be patient with the heat. If you cook at higher temperatures than called for just to warm up the stove faster, you may end up with pots and pans that have food burned on them that is harder to remove. If food has burned in a pan, let the pan cool as above, put some separate soapy water in it, and let the pan soak off to the side for a few minutes. Loosen the food and wash as usual.

7. Wash, dry, and put away items in between cooking times while you are waiting for something to cook or cool down.

By the time you get to the end of cooking, the kitchen looks almost like you haven't cooked. You are basically left with cleaning the stove, the meal dishes, and sweeping the floors after the meal is eaten. Just rinse the meal dishes and add them to the dishwasher. As the dishwasher cleans the dishes you can take a little time to wipe up spills on cupboards and appliances, sweep the floor and if needed empty the trash. Of course, by this time you may want to delegate the rest of the chores to other family members and just relax.

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