Home and Organize
It’s been said the heart of a home is the kitchen. That’s a lovely sentiment, but kitchens are also a source of frustration for many: kitchens have an uncanny ability to collect clutter and create disorganization.
We collected reader tips for keeping the kitchen clean and organized, and here are some of the best ideas for making life in the kitchen easier!
What's for Dinner?
One great tip solves two common problems. Intriguing, right? A reader explained how family members were constantly asking, “What’s for dinner, Mom?” To combat this, she hangs a dry erase board on one side of the refrigerator that listed the weekly dinner menu.
This lets her family to check the board themselves instead of pester her. She also hangs a second dry erase board on the other side of the fridge to keep track of leftovers. The family always knows what is in the fridge to eat, which results in less waste.
You try the salad dressing first
Speaking of leftovers and opened food in the fridge, here’s another great tip. Stop wondering when you opened that jar of mayo or spaghetti sauce. Write the date on newly opened items with a Sharpie. You’ll get a quick idea of whether something has been sitting in the fridge for too long or if it’s time to eat something before it goes bad.
Keep utensils from slipping through the dishwasher basket
If you have small kids, you likely have straws or tiny utensils that slip through the basket in your dishwasher. To avoid that, and avoid potentially melting plastic pieces, place large glass beads in the dishwasher basket to keep those items from slipping through.
Would you want your neighbor looking inside your microwave?
Everyone with a microwave knows that cleaning dried up food off the ceiling and walls of one can be time consuming. We received numerous tips about how to make this task quick and easy.
Try placing a damp sponge or rag in the microwave and heat it up for 3 to 5 minutes. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the steam to loosen whatever is caked onto your microwave walls. Use the damp sponge/rag to easily wipe it away! This can be modified in a variety of ways, such as using a bowl of water and vinegar and/or baking soda and letting that heat up and steam.
Use pantry ingredients to clean the kitchen, greenly
Green cleaning was quite a popular tip from readers, who showed plenty of love for basic items that are stocked in kitchens. Using vinegar, baking soda, water, lemons, and even kosher salt will get your kitchen sparkling, reduce the amount of money you spend on cleaners, and save you money.
Steam clean the sticky stuff
Another trick for getting your kitchen clean in a green way? Buy a handheld steamer! Once you put water in it, you’re good to go. The steam will remove food from ovens, oven-tops, microwaves, and sanitize counter tops and more.
The coffee filter: Jack of all trades
These days it seems like everyone has a specialty coffee maker, but maybe you’ve kept some of those “old-fashioned” coffee filters on hand. They make great snack holders for treats like crackers, chips, cookies, and popcorn. You can use them to clean counters and windows. They’re even great to use as a cover when you’re cooking or heating food in the microwave. They’re also great for kids’ art projects!
Stainless steel cleaner
Everyone loves the look of stainless steel appliances but no one tells you until it’s too late that they show fingerprints and smudges within seconds of placing them in your kitchen. Keep your stainless steel looking brand new by using baby or olive oil. Just a small dab on a soft cloth will erase any marks and help prevent new ones from sticking.
Instant grocery list
There will always be days when you need to make an impromptu trip to the grocery store. Make these visits easier by creating a list of your family’s most commonly purchased items. Laminate it and then punch a hole in one corner. Use ribbon or some other method to attach it to your reusable grocery bags so you always have a reminder of what things you might need. (Of course, Cozi members know that our online grocery lists solve the same problem!)
When you bring the bag inside, make sure you remember to put it back in your car by putting your purse or keys in it.
Dish rags are the new paper towel
Save money and the environment by using dish rags to wipe up messes and clean counters instead of paper towels. Store several in a drawer so they’re convenient but not an eyesore and simply toss them into a hamper at the end of the day.
Wash them each week with other laundry (they don't take up much space!). Of course you should still keep paper towels on hand, but keep them out of the way so you’re not as tempted to grab one for a minor spill.
Michele Johansen is a writer in Bellevue, WA. She is the co-creator of the Ruby Slipper Guide, a website that lists activities and events for families living east of Seattle and blog that delves into the foils of parenting.