How to Clean Up The Kitchen Fast – 9 Tips and Tricks

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Cleaning up the kitchen….don’t you just love doing it?!  I know, me, too! Spending my free time in the evening with my hands in hot, dirty, greasy water.  Mmmmmm.  Wait, What?!  No way! I HATE cleaning the kitchen up.  It makes me long for that robot cleaning maid, Rosie, from the Jetsons cartoon I used to watch as a kid.  Forget these voice things that can turn your oven on for you, some one needs to invent Rosie!  Anyway, until that happens, here are nine tips to clean up the kitchen fast and get you back to better things.  Let’s go!

Tip #1: Get Rid of Those Wooden Utensils

One of the ways to spend less time doing the dishes is to have more things you can put in the dishwasher.  Wooden utensils? Not dishwasher friendly.  So, out they go!  I used to love wooden spoons and spatulas, but now I love stainless steel, plastic, and silicone.  All dishwasher friendly.  Chuck those high maintenance wooden utensils for some lower maintenance ones and you’ll be  glad you did! Get rid of non-dishwasher friendly utensils!

Tip #2: Everyone Uses One Cup for the Entire Day

That’s right.  One cup.  Drink milk?  Rinse it out.  If you use less cups, that leaves more room in the dishwasher for other items you would normally have to wash if the dishwasher was full.  But, if you reduce your cup usage from, say, 12, to 5, that’s a whole lot more space for bowls, utensils, etc.  We’ve done this around our house and it saves a ton of space in our dishwasher.

Tip#3: Get Rid of Extra Dishes

When you have a cabinet full or plates, bowls, salad plates, and glasses, it’s easy to just grab a new one when you need one.  I mean, do you really need 20 plates for a family of 5?  Probably not. But, Surya, what about when I have guests over?!  I suggest keeping some extra dishes stored in a closet (or easily accessible attic) for occasions when you need the extra plates.  Just be sure to put them right back after they are clean!  Same goes for silverware and mugs.  Store extra and get it out when needed.   Get rid of extra or unused utensils. Sometimes a dish is really dirty and it needs to be washed, but, really, sometimes it could just be rinsed off and used again by the same person. Say your kid eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.  Just a quick rinse and put it in the dish drainer and it’s ready to be used for dinner (or snack).

If your kids are like my kids, they eat a lot of snacks and go through a lot of dishes.  One way to spend less time washing dishes is to rinse their plates (or bowls) after their snack and use it again next time.  Now, some snacks are messy and the dish can just go in the dishwasher, absolutely.  But, trying to reuse them cuts down on the pile of dishes going in the dishwasher.

That may sound gross at first, but gimme a minute.  

For example, my kids like cereal with no milk for breakfast.  So, they eat a bowl of cheerios.  Is the bowl dirty when they are done?  Not really.  A few Cheerio crumbs is not dirty.  I just wipe the crumbs in the garbage and reuse the bowl. Using less dishes is a great way to help clean up the kitchen fast.

Tip#4: Use Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

One way you can clean up the kitchen fast is to have more things that can go in the dishwasher. Now that you have created more space by using less glasses and dishes, you have more room for pots and pans.

The bad news?  

Most non-stick pots and pans are not dishwasher safe.  

In our house, we try to stay away from nonstick because of some of the questionable coatings that are uses. But, Biatelli pans are non-stick, safe, AND dishwasher safe!  I love these pans!

For pots, I love stainless steel.  Stainless steel pots are virtually indestructible and they are dishwasher safe!  Just a quick rinse and wipe out after you cook and the pots can go right in the dishwasher.  Score! I have a few stainless

steel pans that I use, but these take a little getting used to.  If they get too hot, they are definitely NOT nonstick.  But, with a little practice, oil, and low heat, stainless steel pans can be pretty great.

Whether you choose to just use stainless steel pots or pots and pans, this is a great way to quickly clean up your kitchen!

A great alternative to stainless steel pans is cast iron.  I have 2 cast iron pans that I LOVE!  They are not dishwasher safe, but to clean them you just need some hot water and a sponge.  So, super quick clean up.  New to cast iron?  Here is a quick lesson in cast iron care.

Tip #6:  Load the Dishwasher as You Use Dishes

It’s so easy to drop a plate on the counter by the sink after lunch and think “Oh, I’ll get that in a minute.”  But, if you’re reading this post, then I’m guessing you’re busy, so you forget about that plate, then by the time dinner rolls around there is a dirty dish party happening on your counter top, right!

The trick is to just put dishes in the dishwasher as you use them.

Finished breakfast?  Dishes go in the dishwasher.

Mid-morning snack?  Dishes go in the dishwasher (or rinsed out; see tip #3).

One sure way to have less dishes to clean up in the evening is to keep the kitchen as clean as you can during the day.  Putting dishes directly in the dishwasher after using them is a good habit to get into for a cleaner kitchen.

Tip #7: Run the Dishwasher Every Night

Running the dishwasher every night was a game changer in our house.  When I was working full time, my husband took carerun the dishwasher every night for a cleaner kitchen of the dishes.  Evenings were always so busy and hectic, that my husband would leave the dishes and clean the kitchen in the morning before he left for work.  It worked, but I hated having the kitchen dirty when we went to bed.  

So, once I started working from home, I took over the dishes.  When I started running the dishwasher every night, it was ready to be unloaded in the morning and refilled with that day’s dishes. Run the dishwasher even if it is just kinda full.

If you only run the dishwasher when it is completely full, then sometimes you are running it in the middle of the day – prime dirty dish time.  So, while the dishwasher is running, dirty dishes are piling up on the counter.

The middle of the day also tends to be the busiest time of the day, so when the dishwasher is finished, you might not have time to empty it right away.

Bigger dirty dish pile.

Then after dinner rolls around and you’ve got this hugely dirty kitchen to clean up, just when you are most tired from your busy day. Run the dishwasher every night before you go to bed.

Even if it isn’t totally full.

You’ll thank me later.

Tip #8:  Cook Meals that Use Less Dishes

This seems like a no brainer, right?!  But it can be so hard!  See if this sounds familiar – a meal sounds easy, so you start it, and next thing you know, you’ve got 2 pots, a pan, and some bowls you mixed food up in.  Right?!

That is way too much to wash!

One key to a quick kitchen clean up is to have less to clean up, sooooo  let’s do that! Use less pots, pans, and utensils when cooking.

A few easy ways to do this is to make the crockpot, sheetpan, and grill your new BFFs. Chicken and dumplings is a great cockpot recipe.

Sheet pan meals are like one-pot suppers for your oven.  Need some recipes?  Here are 21 sheet pan dinners to try.

I love the grill.  LOVE it.  Especially in the Summer.  It doesn’t heat up your already hot kitchen AND makes no dishes.  It’s a win-win! Burgers, grilled chicken, beer can chicken.  The possibilities are endless on the grill.

One of my favorite “almost no dishes” recipes is stromboli, so my goal this summer is to try it on the grill over indirect heat.  No hot ovens this summer!

Tip #9:  Set a Timer for After Dinner Clean UpSet a timer for after dinner clean up where everyone helps for a little while.

I came across this amazing piece of advice while writing this post and it just blew me away!  Simple and effective, sign me up!  We are going to start with 5 minutes.

I generally use a timer with my girls when we are cleaning up the toys.  It’s amazing how much you can get done in just a few short minutes while the timer runs.

Imagine, 5 minutes of everyone helping.

Kids bring in the dishes, hubby loads the dishwasher, you put the leftovers away and  start the dish water(if needed).

Then, if you are following all these tips, you shouldn’t have much to wash, so just a few dishes, wipe the counters, and voila! A clean kitchen…fast.


Cleaning the kitchen is one of those “permanent chores” that is  I hope these tips and tricks help you spend less time cleaning the kitchen and more time doing the things you love!

Did you try any of these tips or do you have some awesome tips of your own to share?  Let me know in the comments below!

Suggested Post: How to Always Know What ‘s For Dinner

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18 Responses

  1. Wow!

    Thanks for all the tips. I run the dishwasher in the afternoon and at night. Clean up is a cinch! But, I think I can cut that down to one time a day if I do the one cup suggestion! Good idea.

    Thanks for the dinner recipes too!

  2. Brittany says:

    These are great tips! I try to run the dishwasher every night and unload it while the kids eat breakfast! That little routine helps so much! Thank you for sharing at Mama Blog Monday! 🙂

    • thecrazybusymama says:

      Thanks, Brittany! I’m so glad you like them and thanks for the opportunity to link up on your blog. I also like to unload the dishwasher while my kids eat breakfast – especially when my littlest is in her highchair because then she isn’t trying to climb onto the door of the dishwasher!

  3. LOVE the timer idea and I need to try to run the dishwasher more frequently. These tips are great!

    • thecrazybusymama says:

      Great! Yeah, running the dishwasher on a regular schedule was probably the biggest game changer for me. It really sets you up for a routine.

  4. I definitely needed this! I struggle hard to keep my house clean and my kitchen is the one that irks me the most. We are are family of both working parents with somewhat opposite schedules so we don’t cook dinner everyday. Running the dishwasher every day might be too much for us because it is really empty. I think I might start with every two days. I might also add to frequently clean the dishwasher because I’ve noticed that I sometimes have to run the dishwasher more than once to get a good clean (which takes more time and effort).

    • thecrazybusymama says:

      Hi Marissa,
      I’m so glad you found this post useful! If you don’t need to run the dishwasher every night (which I am totally jealous of, by the way!) I might suggest doing a rinse cycle on the nights you don’t run it. That might help if the dishes are sitting for a day or two. This way they get rinsed off and the food doesn’t get dried on, which is usually the culprit of not so clean dishes when the dishwasher is finished. Good luck!

  5. Jessie says:

    I so need to implement this! My kitchen is never all the way clean and tidy. Uggh. Thanks for the great tips! Nice to meet you on the link-up party!

    • thecrazybusymama says:

      Kitchens are just such a disaster, believe me, you are not alone in the constant messy kitchen club! I hope the tips help! The link up party was great!

  6. Jamie says:

    Such great tips. I really need to get rid of utensils- I have way too many and to enforce the one cup rule. With 6 people in the house, I feel like our dishwasher is always overflowing!!

    • thecrazybusymama says:

      Thanks, Jamie! Yeah, once I got rid of some utensils, it was so much easier to put the ones I had in my utensil jar. No more shoving them in because it’s so full!

  7. Amanda says:

    Love these tips, especially #2! I try to tell my husband that all the time! Lol

  8. Brenda says:

    Great ideas. Agree about the wooden spoons and yes to loading the dishwasher as you use the dishes. I use a version of the 5 minutes for all my housekeeping during the week so less to do on the weekend.

    • thecrazybusymama says:

      Thanks, Brenda! That’s a great idea to do 5 minutes for all your housekeeping. It’s amazing how much you can get done if you just start. My kids love to start the timer on my phone, so we use it a lot around our house!

  9. Thanks for sharing kitchen cleaning tips, nice job.

    • Surya says:

      Thank you! I’m so glad you liked them! With three little kids, I am all about finding ways to get housework done more quickly and I hadn’t read some of these tips before, so I wanted to share them. I’m guessing by your site name that you do A LOT of cleaning, so I hope you find them useful.

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