Growing up, my mom had a recipe card that sat on the window sill above the sink. It read,
“Thank God for dirty dishes;
They have a tale to tell.
While other folks go hungry,
We’re eating very well.
With home and health and happiness,
We surely shouldn’t fuss.
For by this stack of evidence,
God is very good to us.”
While mom and dad always taught me to be thankful for everything, they also taught me a very important principle: Clean As You Go!
The kitchen has one of the greatest potentials for spread of infectious diseases of anywhere you might go. Yes, folks, even more potential than your bathroom! So, it’s important to keep it clean. After all, you wouldn’t want your guests (or your family, for that matter) spreading rumors of food poisoning at your house.
Always start with a clean slate. This isn’t hard if you’ve cleaned up from the last mess, but just in case, it’s a noteworthy point. Wipe down the countertops and pull out everything you will need for that day’s meal or treat. Then, look for moments of waiting and seize them as opportunities to avoid a late night on kitchen duty.
As the pasta or potatoes are boiling, you have 8-12 minutes to rinse the rest of the dishes and get them in the dishwasher or washed and put back away for their next tasks. As the cookies bake, clean up the bowls, spoons and mixer. Use these little bursts of time as a challenge to get everything cleaned before you have to do the next step. It makes your time standing in front of the sink and washing dishes at the end of the process much shorter.
Always keep the counter cleared off. Often the kitchen counter becomes the “catch all” spot for the house. Don’t let this happen. Have a basket for mail – maybe even hang it on the wall. Keep appliances in cabinets if you can, so you have more room to work on top of the counters. Many people allow themselves one junk drawer in the kitchen. This is the place to throw pens and leftover birthday candles, tape and scissors, etc. Allow yourself this luxury. Although, I have to say, the neater you keep this junk drawer, the easier it will be to find what you’re looking for.
The biggest lesson about cleaning I learned from my mom is this: never go to bed with dirty dishes! There is hardly a worse feeling than waking up to a dirty house, and especially a dirty kitchen. Starting your day with a giant to do list is not essential. Waking up to a clean kitchen, when you know all you have to do is put on a pot of coffee or tea, is a wonderful and refreshing moment! It may take 15 more minutes in the evening, but you’ll avoid the ant trails and hardened food on your dishes.
So, be thankful for dirty dishes, and be more even more thankful for clean ones!