Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Quick Kitchen Fix

To prove that I'm not always despondent about cleaning the house, I share with you my own bonafide tip for making things look acceptable fast in the kitchen, the only household fix I've ever developed myself. This works for everyone: big families, small families, bachelors, roommates, anyone with a kitchen and people coming over shortly.

So you just got a call that someone's showing up in ten or fifteen or thirty minutes, and the kitchen is a disaster, and you don't know where to start. Do you go with your first instinct and tackle that counter full of dirty dishes? Don't get caught in that trap, or you'll be caught in the vicious cycle of unloading the dishwasher and loading it, and by the time you hear the knock on the door, there will be no discernible difference, and you'll be all hot and flustered for nothing. Here, try MrsDarwin's handy Quick Kitchen Fix:

Clean appliances first: Get your Formula 409 and your paper towels and wipe down the stovetop, the oven door, the microwave, the dishwasher, the fridge, the bread box -- any surface that you usually neglect because you're doing the dishes and clearing the counter and sweeping the floor. Everyone has dishes sitting around sometimes (most of the time); people understand that. If you have a clean stovetop and fridge and large vertical surfaces, it looks like you keep the place clean most of the time, but you're just behind on clearing the counter today. But if you have jam on the fridge and grease on the stove and fingerprints all over the dishwasher and smears of whatever on the oven, that's when it looks like you never clean the place, no matter how sparkling your counters are.

If you've done that, and you still have time, wipe any major spots off the floor. It doesn't matter if you've swept -- you're going to be wiping up the dirt with your paper towel anyway.

If you've done that, and you still have time, wipe down the sink faucet.

If you've done that, and you still have time, sweep the floor. Get the corners especially, so it looks like you always keep them clean. If there's junk on the floor that needs to be sorted through, sweep it into a pile and put it in a bag to look at later.

If you still have time, push all the dishes into the sink and fill it with soapy water so they look like they're soaking (and they are!).

Then wipe the dishes counter.

You're probably out of time now, or you would have just done the dishes first thing, but now your visitor is here and it looks like you keep mostly on top of things. After they leave, you get through the dishes and clean off the rest of the counters and pretend to yourself that the kitchen looked this clean the whole time, really.

Obviously, if the floor is so disgusting you can't even walk on it, you can start there first, but if it's passable at a glance, start by making the big vertical surfaces and the stovetop shine.

And that's how I roll.


Catholic Bibliophagist said...

That's a good tip! I have shiny white tile on my kitchen and dining room floor. My quick fix for it is a spray bottle of window cleaner and a paper towel. If you can get the worse spots off it will actually look like you mop the floor regularly.

Jenny said...

Sneaky. I like cleaning the appliances because it makes you feel like you have actually done something instead of the usual treading water.

A few days before M was born, I spent an hour cleaning our microwave because I was horrified that the midwives would be using my kitchen. I felt so happy after it was clean. See they wouldn't think we were absolute slobs because we had a clean microwave. ;)

Melanie Bettinelli said...

I love the way you think, Mrs D.

Anonymous said...

My tip is a housecleaner 2-4x/month. Provides enough major cleaning that I rarely have to face down a messy kitchen anymore. Also minimizes the dirt accumulation even if we immediately make a huge mess right after she leaves. The one household service there is always room in our budget for.

bearing said...

Yeah, I am a big fan of hiring a housecleaner. We did it once a month and that was a good compromise between the budget and the cleanliness (I would have liked twice a month, but I could keep up well enough in between and it didn't seem worth doubling the cost). Right now we are between housecleaners, but I really ought to get cracking on finding a new one.

Key homeschooler-specific requirement that makes it tough to find one: the housecleaner must set an appointment time and show up on time, not merely tell me "I'll be there sometime Monday." Since the vast majority of their clients are not occupying their homes from 8-5 on weekdays, a lot of the housecleaning services refuse to specify a time, or else they see no problem with showing up 3 hours late, and I refuse to have my entire day hijacked by an "appointment" that nebulous.

Anonymous said...

I'm following your quick kitchen fix. It's working beautifully!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I would never use a service, those people are horribly exploited. I always hire individuals, never ever services, and that works perfectly well for getting a fixed, consistent time.


bearing said...

Few of the individuals working as cleaners around here are bonded and insured.