Clean As You Go. What a concept! My kitchen used to be the center of chaos when I first started cooking. The source of that chaos was not prepping in advance or anticipating where I was going with a recipe. Here are 12 tips I’ve gathered over the years that have transformed my messy kitchen into a clean kitchen while cooking. The result? An overall more calming and enjoyable cooking experience.
Are you a messy cook? Me too! Embrace your messiness or cook in whatever style feels right to you. These guidelines for keeping your prep space clean and uncluttered aren’t meant to stifle any creativity but rather add some order into your kitchen space. I hope you find some of these tips helpful as you prep your next meal!
Embracing The “Clean As You Go” Mentality
The “clean as you go” mentality in the kitchen refers to the practice of cleaning up and organizing as you cook, rather than leaving all the cleaning until the end. This approach offers several important benefits:
Efficiency: Cleaning as you go helps to maintain a clean and organized workspace, making it easier to find utensils and ingredients as you need them. This efficiency can save time and make the cooking process smoother.
Safety: A tidy kitchen is a safer kitchen. Cleaning up spills promptly prevents slips and falls. Also, regularly clearing clutter reduces the risk of accidents, such as knocking over sharp knives or hot pans.
Stress Reduction: Cooking can be stressful, especially when preparing multiple dishes or complex recipes. Keeping the kitchen clean and organized reduces the feeling of chaos and can make the cooking experience more enjoyable.
Multi-tasking: With a clean and organized kitchen, you can more easily multitask. For example, while one dish is simmering, you can use that time to clean and put away ingredients or utensils you no longer need.
Maintaining Focus: A clutter-free environment allows you to concentrate on the cooking process without distractions. You’re less likely to forget an ingredient or skip a step if you’re working in a tidy space.
Easier Cleanup at the End: Cleaning up a little bit at a time means you won’t be faced with a massive mess at the end of your cooking session. It makes the final cleanup much more manageable and less daunting.
Positive Habit Formation: Adopting a “clean as you go” mentality encourages the formation of good habits. Over time, this practice can become second nature, contributing to a more organized and efficient kitchen overall.
How To Keep Your Kitchen Clean And Organized While Cooking
1. Start Cooking With An Empty Dishwasher And A Clean Workspace
Set the stage for a calm cooking experience by starting out with an organized kitchen. This proactive approach minimizes distractions and offers space for rinsed dishes and prepping your recipe.
2. Designate A Spot To Place Reusable Measuring Spoons And Cups, Utensils, And Knives
Having a dedicated tray, cutting board, or bowl to place things like measuring cups and spoons reduces the number of dishes to wash later and keeps them handy when needed.
3. Grab Plenty Of Dishtowels
Be prepared for quick cleanups by having plenty of dishtowels handy. I keep a stack of flour sack dishtowels nearby that are perfect for spills and messes.
4. Designate A Bowl For Kitchen Scraps And Other Garbarge
Garbage bowl! This is key for cooking, especially when prepping lots of produce. Keep a bowl (I like this large steel prep bowl) within easy reach to collect scraps and packaging, which reduces the need for constant trips to the trash can. This simple tip streamlines your workflow and maintains a cleaner, more efficient workspace.
5. Have Plenty Of Chopping Boards Ready
Having a few chopping boards ready is great for recipes with lots of steps. If you make a mess on one chopping board and need a fresh, clean one, just swap them out (and give the dirty one a good scrub before placing it into your dishwasher).
6. Practice Mise En Place
Avoid last-minute chaos by organizing and preparing your ingredients before diving into the recipe. Having everything measured, chopped, and ready to go not only saves time during the cooking process but also makes your cooking experience calmer and more organized.
Mise en place is a French culinary term that translates to “everything in its place” or “putting in place.” It refers to the practice of preparing and organizing all the ingredients and tools needed for a dish before cooking. This includes measuring ingredients, chopping vegetables, preparing sauces, and setting up any necessary utensils or equipment.
By having everything ready and organized before cooking begins, you can streamline the cooking process and ensure that each component is added at the right time. Mise en place helps prevent mistakes, saves time during cooking, and allows you to focus on the sensory experience of prepping a meal.
7. If You Drop Something On The Floor, Pick It Up Right Away
Pick up bits of dropped food to avoid stepping on them and making a mess. This quick tip not only keeps your cooking area cleaner but also prevents potential accidents and ensures a more organized space.
8. Wipe Up Spills Immediately
Keep a damp cloth or sponge nearby to quickly wipe down surfaces, spills, and splatters. You won’t have any dried-on messes to deal with later!
9. Use Baking Mats, Parchment Paper, and Foil
Line baking sheets and pans with parchment paper, foil, or silicone baking mats. This makes cleanup a breeze, as you can simply remove the liner along with most of the mess.
10. Wash As You Go, And Clean As You Wait
Do you have to simmer something for 20 minutes before you can do anything else in your recipe? Take advantage of breaks like this to wash dishes and clean countertops. This prevents a buildup of dirty dishes and messes. Wash as you go, clean as you wait is one of the easiest and best tips here!
11. Soak Any Pots or Pans With Stuck-On Food In Soapy Water
To prevent really stuck-on food, fill dirty pots and pans with hot and soapy water and soak. They’ll be so much easier to scrub! Once clean, hand dry them and put them away.
12. Restore Your Kitchen To Its Original State
Once cooking is completed, wipe everything down, dump out your garbage bowl, clean any leftover dishes, and restore your kitchen to the clean state it was when you started—without a huge mess. Getting into this mindset as you cook will become second nature and make cooking a more relaxed and orderly process!
Keeping Your Kitchen Clean Is Easy With These Simple Tips!
I hope that even if you already clean as you go, you’ll still find some of these tips helpful. A clean, orderly kitchen feels so nice! If you have any tips to add, please let me know in the comments!
Kitchen photos with white backgrounds in this post are from Canva.