7 Rules to Follow for an Always-Clean Kitchen

These little habits will help you end the kitchen mess ... once and for all.

Rules to Follow for an Always-Clean Kitchen, dishwasher
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The kitchen is one of those rooms where the state of cleanliness often exists along a pendulum swing: the dirty dishes and crumbs and trash build up until they reach critical mass. Then, you buckle down for a long kitchen cleaning spree. The room is sparkling clean for a day (two days, tops) before the cycle starts over again. But for those who want to avoid the mess and the time-consuming cleanup that follows, there's another way. Start following these daily kitchen cleaning rules right now, and your kitchen will look tidier all the time. Once you incorporate these simple steps into your routine, the dreaded deep-clean will feel far less daunting.

1. Keep Cleaning Supplies Where They're Easy to Grab

To make all of these habits easier to adopt, you'll want to stash cleaning supplies and tools in a convenient, easy-to-reach spot. Store a good-smelling cleaning spray (I'm obsessed with this lavender and thyme-scented one) under your kitchen sink. And leave a cleaning cloth dedicated to wiping counters and appliances out on a hook or towel rack. When cleaning essentials are easy to reach, you'll have one less excuse to procrastinate on cleaning.

2. Put Dirty Dishes Directly into the Dishwasher

It's a common problem in the kitchen: You let the dishes pile up until you have no choice but to either wash them or load the dishwasher. To avoid this issue, get in the habit (and convince your household to get in the habit) of placing dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher, skipping the sink waiting zone.

Of course, in order to make this possible, you'll also have to adopt the habit of emptying the dishwasher as soon as it's clean. If you run the dishwasher at night, make emptying it part of your morning routine.

3. Wipe Down the Counter After Every Meal

How often you need to wipe down your kitchen countertops will depend upon how often you cook. But as a general rule, wipe your counters each time you prep a meal to keep crumbs (and bugs) at bay.

4. Take Out the Trash Every Day

Especially if you cook often (and don't compost), you'll want to make sure there aren't food scraps hanging out in your kitchen garbage for multiple days. They'll not only start to smell, but can attract pests.

5. Check Your Fridge Before Taking Out the Trash

One of my favorite cleaning tasks to tackle at the same time: always take a peek inside your refrigerator before taking out the kitchen trash. Notice any expired produce or moldy cheese? Toss it into the trash can.

6. Only Buy Machine-Washable Rugs

Rugs can help make a kitchen feel cozier, but they're also magnets for dirt and crumbs. In this room, skip the antique wool runner and stick to machine-washable options that you can easily toss into the wash when you tackle your laundry.

7. Soak Pots and Pans While You Eat

To keep your kitchen cleaner every day, you'll need to break those bad habits that tend to make it dirtier. A common one: letting dirty pots and pans with baked-on food sit out while you eat dinner. After dinner, the task of scrubbing everything clean feels so daunting, no one would blame you for avoiding it.

The solution: Get in the habit of letting pots and pans soak in warm, soapy water while you eat dinner. By the time the meal is over, the pans should be much easier to scrub (especially if you use this handy tool). Of course, cast-iron pans are a different story—here's the easiest way to get them clean.

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