Healthy Habits | Part 2: Keep Your Kitchen Clean {Almost} All The Time, The Non-Cleaning Edition

Welcome to Flawed yet Functional! Staying on top of my housework keeps me sane throughout the day. My primary area of focus is the kitchen. I cook a lot, usually at least 2 meals a day are made from scratch. Do you know what makes this task difficult? A dirty kitchen. In the first post, I tackled the cleaning aspects of keeping a kitchen clean, and today, I’d like to focus on the non-cleaning aspects of keeping the kitchen clean. These are more like habits to get into that will make your kitchen appear more clean not because you have wiped food off a surface but because there is less clutter. Let’s dive into the 4 habits to keep your kitchen clean {almost} all the time, the non-cleaning edition!

keep your kitchen clean

As I worked to write this post, I realized I’ve slipped in some of these areas lately. While I explain my top 4 habits (non-cleaning) to keeping my kitchen clean, I’ll give you a real life progression in my kitchen. To level set, this is my kitchen after I returned from an all day trip and my kids had been home with the babysitter. The sitter kept the kitchen clean of dirt and food but the counters were littered with stuff I brought home and the kid’s toys.

keep your kitchen clean

Clean up Toys

Maybe this is just me, but the kitchen is a magnet for my kid’s toys. Likely this is because we are all in the kitchen together often and the toys follow the boys, you know? Have the kids pick up their toys and take them elsewhere. Stepping on legos while cooking never puts anyone in a good mood.

My kids are real kids. They flop themselves on the floor claiming they “can’t stand up” when I tell them to remove their toys from the kitchen floor. So my expectation is not that they will pick up all the legos and put them in the proper bin on another floor. Depending on the age, I might just ask them to make a pile on the stool so I’m not stepping on them. Or I might say all the stuffed animals need to go to the bottom of the stairs (to be properly put away later). Baby steps. Baby steps. Involve your kids in cleaning the house however it works for you. It will be beneficial to both of you.

After: I put my lunch dishes in the dishwasher, took the cooler to the garage, and put away the food processor (box on the left), put away the dry dishes, and had the kids take their toys to the basement. I did not clean anything, just put things away. Huge progress, right?

keep your kitchen clean

Decor is Not For Counters

The kitchen counters are for working, so if they are kept clear of any clutter (stand mixer, blender, canisters, decor items, etc.) the whole room will look cleaner, even if it isn’t. If the item is not used daily, find a home for it behind a closed cupboard door. If the item is used daily, think long and hard before you leave it out on the counter.

For example, I do not keep my blender or stand mixer on the counter as they are only used every couple days. I do use olive oil, salt, and pepper every day (every meal!) but I also choose to put the oil and salt in a cabinet right next to the stove because I still don’t like the sight of them on the counter. I would put the pepper grinder there too, but it’s too tall!

After: I looked at my kitchen and realized I’ve gotten lax in this area. There was an overflowing container of wine corks, coffee grinder and pot we don’t use currently, and an empty fruit bowl. So I just put them away and replaced the coffee pot and grinder with tea items.

keep your kitchen clean

Sort the Mail Immediately

As soon as you walk in the door with the pile of mail for the day, make a bee-line for the trash can and quickly sort all the junk into the trash. Then create a place for the items that do need attention (bills, personal notes, invitations, etc.) and make that place NOT the kitchen counter.

I don’t have an example of this because I am ruthless with paper. I throw it away immediately.

Use a Mat for Drying Dishes

While there might always be a pile of dishes drying next to the sink, make those times you actually have put everything away that much better by using a drying mat or kitchen towel under your dishes. There are several advantages to this type of drying rack over a traditional plastic or wood drying rack.

  1. Less visual clutter – It’s flat. When it is empty, it doesn’t take up space in the room making the kitchen seem cleaner by having less visual clutter.
  2. It can be washed – Since it is only made of fabric, toss that mat into the washer whenever it gets dirty or too wet. When’s the last time you scrubbed down a wood or plastic drying rack? My guess is very infrequently.
  3. It’s easy to put away when guests arrive – Want to go the extra mile of appearing clean? Toss that mat under the sink or in the laundry room right before guests arrive. Bam. Clean kitchen.

After: To get that extra oh-so-clean look, I took away my drying mat. What do you think? Looks like a spotless kitchen, right?

keep your kitchen clean

With just a few minutes of work, my kitchen instantly looked and felt cleaner. Wouldn’t you agree? But it wasn’t! I didn’t clean any surface, dust, or vacuum. However, with less visual clutter, everything feels fresher, lighter, and cleaner. This exercise, including taking pictures for this post and cleaning up the unused coffee items, took less than 15 minutes (pictures definitely took the bulk of the time!). It doesn’t take long, folks, and it will make your kitchen feel so much cleaner.

When you boil it down, it all comes down to getting rid of the clutter. Clutter in the form of toys, decor, paper, and unnecessarily large counter items. If you can find another home for these items, your kitchen will feel so much cleaner with little work from you!


Do you have a trick to keeping the kitchen clean? What areas bother you the most? What things do you choose to leave on the counter and why?

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