Steps to ‘Clean & Clear’ Your Kitchen & Dining Areas
The steps I use when cleaning and clearing my kitchen are fairly straight-forward. I’ve always been diligent and tried to keep my kitchen very clean – simply for the health issue of my children – but I am guilty of letting the clutter take over in here, too.
I don’t have the luxury of having an actual dining room so my kitchen is also my dining area and I try make it a point to keep this area as clutter-free as possible. It’s much easier now that I’ve had 2 years to try and clean and clear it but, when I started, I had probably 150-200 vhs video tapes stacked along the wall. And there was so much paper clutter stacked all over, as well as, extra dishes that wouldn’t even fit into my kitchen cabinets. To this day, there is still a tendency to let my table become a catch-all for everything – even after 2 years of doing this.
It is really important to make a conscious effort not to let ‘things’ over-take your life!
My thoughts are that cleanliness is the most important thing in this room. Do whatever it takes to get this room cleaned up quickly – like, right now, don’t get me wrong, I mean *CLEAN* – clean as in sanitary, not necessarily uncluttered right away. The clutter can wait if you’ve got a clean place to store, prepare, cook and eat your food./p>
Remember, do not burn yourself out. Do only as much as you can without feeling too stressed. You can always finish up where you leave off tomorrow. Even a little effort will make an improvement … so just try.
Despite what I said, I do tend to clean this room in a particular order – I’ve found that it helps if I do it in this order. This takes care of the cleaning before the clearing, for obvious safety reasons. In this room, my first and foremost attention goes to the following clean and clearing steps:
- I start at the refrigerator/freezer. I, first, open the doors and remove any outdated food. I will NOT ever feed that to my children. There is a good reason the expiration date is put on labels.
- Next, I move food around so that I have an empty shelf. If there is an empty shelf, I will arrange the food on other shelves so that I can wipe down an empty shelf with a cleaner. I have glass shelves in my refrigerator so I like to use Windex glass cleaner because it removes all of the streaks and spills very quickly and easily and gives my glass shelves a nice clean look. After I’ve got the shelves wiped down, I put the food back in it’s place.
- Then, I go to the freezer and do the same thing except I have a wire shelf in there and a plastic pull-out tray on the bottom. I wipe each of these down and replace any good food back to it’s location. Cleaning the refrigerator and freezer out not only helps to keep the food safer but it also helps me when I get the groceries home from the store. It makes putting them away SO much easier.
- Next, I go to the microwave and scrub down the inside. I cannot tell you how often I’ve preached that whatever goes in here must have a lid on it. Needless to say, it does end up with ravioli sauce exploded all over on the inside. Here is where I like to use Windex again. It really makes cleaning so much easier – with it’s spray bottle and great streak-free cleaning power. If this doesn’t work, I know I have to bring out the big gun … 409 grease-cutter. I haven’t found anything yet that neither of those two cleaners won’t take care of … at least in the kitchen area. When the inside is scrubbed clean, I use a fresh rag and clean the outside of it off.
- Then, I go to the rest of my kitchen appliances and use the Windex and give them a good wiping down, too – all of the tops, sides, fronts, wherever they need it. This only takes about 15 minutes and I’ve cleaned the whole outside of every major appliance that I own … my stove, my refrigerator/freezer, my microwave, my dishwasher, my electric skillet, and my commercial pizza oven that sits on the counter. I’ve tried to put all the rest of my appliances into my cabinets to keep them off my kitchen cabinets. In order to do this, I have had to declutter my kitchen cabinets. I’ll get into that in another section. For now, don’t worry about decluttering until you have the above steps completed.
- Next, I remove all items from the counter-top. If you have multiple countertops, then just start at one side and work your way around from there.
- Once everything is removed from the counter-top, I take a clean, warm, soapy dishrag and give the counter-top a good scrub-down. I don’t bother wiping it down with a towel because it will be dry by the time I get done wiping down the whole counter-top.
- Next, I decide what I’m going to keep on my counter-top … and I *ONLY* put those items back on it. I have a plan for the rest of it. I think about each item that is not good enough to make it to the counter-top. I decide if I want to keep it, if I actually use it, or if I really want it. If I haven’t used something in the past year, then it’s probably not a big deal to get rid of it. After all, it is taking up prime real estate. If I ever ‘think’ that I ‘may’ need it again, I will box it up and store it for one more year. I date the box, and if I haven’t decided that I need it by then, I don’t even open up the box. Most times, I forget that I even have it so I just take the box full of very good items (with my own expiration date) into my donation pile and drop it off at Goodwill. One very important rule is – after that year, it is best to not even open the box back up. It is easiest to give away what you forgot about. Another word of advice: Be sure to write a date down … and pay attention to that date so that you make sure you get rid of it upon your own personal ‘expiration date’. Alot of the time, my items never make it to the 1-year mark because I decide to hold a yard sale. So, with the money I make, it feels good to clear out my space. And, I have another rule that – whatever is unsold after the yard sale, goes directly to Goodwill. I refuse to take any item back into my house.
- After I get the counter-tops in order, and all the extra items boxed up, if they don’t fit into my cabinets, then I take the boxes down to the basement or out to the shed. Then, I won’t be tempted to ‘snoop’ and drag items out of them throughout the year.
- Now it’s time to clean and clear off the kitchen or dining area table. Like I said, my table is in my kitchen and it usually becomes a catch-all for everything. So, I’ve made this our ‘personalized family control center’ and it now works for organizing our lives. I’ll get into more detail on this in another section. For now, you just need to concentrate on clearing everything off of the top of the table and everything that might be sitting on the chairs.
- After you have the table and chairs all cleared off, take a clean, warm, soapy dishrag and start wiping the top of the table off. If you are really ambitious, feel free to wipe the chairs down, too. My chairs always get dusty on the backs of them and I hate to clean them but it only takes about 6 minutes and all 6 chairs are done. Do NOT put anything back onto the table or chairs. If you have extra items, repeat the same process as you did for the extra items on the counter-top.
- After you’ve boxed up and put an ‘expiration date’ on each box, I want you to immediately take all of those extra boxes of unneeded items to the area where you’re storing them (the garage, shed, or basement … just get them out of your direct sight).
After I get those steps completed, then I go back to my usual way of cleaning and clearing a room. I step back to the entrance of my kitchen. Once again, I take a sweeping look around. To make it easier, I go left to right but you can do it however it works best for you. Once I see an area that needs to be cleaned or cleared, I quit looking and I go right to that area. For me, that takes care of all areas except the floor. So, I go and finish my kitchen steps.
- I start the next phase of my kitchen cleaning by clearing all items off of my kitchen floor. The only thing that I have in here is: my table and chairs, my covered garbage can (which I strongly suggest because an open garbage can is not pretty to look at, nor is it sanitary). I am guilty of having my snow shovel in the kitchen during the winter, along with a few other items that really shouldn’t be stored outside in the freezing cold shed. I’ve made tremendous progress towards cleaning and clearing this area, though.
- Once the kitchen floor is free of all extra items, and you’ve got these extra items boxed up, as before WITH an’expiration date’ on each box, I want you to immediately take all of those extra boxes of unneeded items to the area where you’re storing them – to the same place as you put the other extra unneeded items for storage.
- Now,it is time to vaccuum or sweep your entire kitchen floor – you don’t have to move out the table, but I strongly suggest pulling out the chairs, at the very least.
- After it is swept or vaccuumed, it is time to clean the floor. I use a clean, warm, soapy washrag and clean it. I have a smooth, shiny, tile floor so it generally looks really bad unless I do it this way but you can wash your floor whatever way works best for you. The point is just to get it cleared and cleaned. I also move out my kitchen table so I can get underneath it. To do all of this, with help, only takes me 30 minutes total. If I wanted to do a quick job, I could leave the table and work around it. Then, it would probably only take about 15-20 minutes. Do whatever you’re comfortable with. Either way, it’s not going to take the ‘whole’ day so don’t procrastinate … Just clean it! 🙂
If you’ve completed each of the steps above – Great Job!!! You’ve just completed one of the toughest rooms in the house! I hope you’re feeling much more capable – you’ve proved that you can do it!
You are changing your lifestyle … one room at a time! 🙂