How To Clean Your Kitchen In 15 Minutes!

Clean Your Kitchen 1
Yesterday I was interviewed for a feature article in the Gainesville Times Gazette newspaper. A lovely woman by the name of Brandee called and interviewed me for a few minutes about the post “How To Clean Your Bathroom Like A Pro”.

As a former reporter, it was kind of strange to be the one being interviewed, but it was fun too. And the whole experience reminded me that ever since that post, I have wanted to do a follow-up for the KITCHEN! But, since I’M NO EXPERT, I haven’t felt comfortable doling out that sort of advice.

Well, today I found a good source (Sarah Aguirre, Guide) that is definitely an expert, and whose “system” I really liked. As a matter of fact, I tried it out this morning on my kitchen (which was in a particularly MESSY state)…and it worked! Of course this won’t replace the inevitable need for deep cleaning, but it’s a great way to keep on top of the daily maintenance items so that you won’t have to do it as often…or as DEEP!
Here’s the rundown:

1. Gather all of your needed supplies together (listed below.)

Don’t underestimate the value of this step. Trying to find cleansers, dishcloths, sponges, etc. not only eats up time, but increases the risks of distractions that let you forget what you were working on in the first place. Gather all supplies together before you begin.

What You’ll Need:

Trash container.
Basket for stuff that does not belong in the kitchen.
Dish soap.
Other cleaners you normally use.
Dishrag or sponge.
Scrubber for stuck on food.
Broom, mop, or vacuum.


2. Run a sink of hot, soapy water.

If you have a double sink with a garbage disposal on one side, make sure to use the disposal-free side. Keeping the disposal side free will allow you to scrape leftovers down the drain quickly while you work.

3. Scrape off all the dishes into the trash or garbage disposal.

If step 2 has blocked your disposal, scrape the dishes off onto a dirty plate.

4. Place dishes that need to soak into the water.

Try to choose the dishes that are going to give you or your dishwasher the most trouble to get clean. Put the heavily soiled dishes on the bottom. Large dishes like pans and bowls can be filled with hot soapy water and set on the counter to soak.

5. While the dishes are soaking, go through the kitchen clearing out trash from your floor, countertop, cupboards, etc.

Don’t worry about things that are out of place, or don’t belong in the kitchen. Worry only about trash.

Photo: HGTV

6. Move on to gathering all the items that do not belong in the kitchen. Put all these items into a basket (see supplies).

If you have a helper (willing or unwilling) send them off to put away these items. Do not stop working on the kitchen to take these misplaced items to their homes.

7. Put away all of the items that belong in the kitchen but are not in their proper places.

Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by rearranging cabinets, drawers, etc. Simply place the items that are out back where they belong.

8. Load the dishwasher or wash by hand.

If you do not have a dishwasher or don’t like to use one, this process of cleaning the dishes may take more time. If possible grab a couple of other people and form a wash, rinse, dry and put away assembly line. Empty the dirty water and scrape the plate of food off into the disposal if it was previously blocked. Add the plate to the dishwasher.

9. Wash down your countertop, appliances, and sink.

Rinse out sponges and rags. If needed, put them in the dirty laundry. We’re not heavy duty cleaning here. I literally mean wash down the visible surfaces. Don’t open the microwave and scrub it out. We’re not cleaning the crumbs out of the toaster. Quickly wipe it down.

10. Sweep and mop, or vacuum.

Photo: Real Simple

11. Take out the trash

If the trash is full, or tomorrow is trash day, take the trash outside and reline the trash container so that it is ready for tomorrow’s trash.

Photo: Real Simple

One more thing…

Here is my ONE tip to add to this post. Running a sink of hot soapy water before food preparation is SO helpful. As bowls, cutting boards, knives, etc, become dirty, toss them in the sink to soak until you are done. This will prevent food from drying on the dishes and make clean up a lot easier!

Now go forth and CLEAN!  (You have 15 minutes!)
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  1. j.w. says

    Perhaps only ADD and ADHD’ers can know how this came to my ‘unusual’ brain, but for me, it worked and still does. Never again a dishwasher to empty. [Forewarned–this probably does NOT work for large families–sorry] In law school–I was in my 40’s!, with severe ADHD–and emptying the dishwasher was always there, waiting, waiting, waiting–with full-time studying waiting, waiting, waiting. Subsequently, the challenge drove me to find a solution. Using legal logic–what is THAT??-I solved the problem–for me, which I still use. Began washing dishes I used in the sink–with Soap on Handle Thingie–and THEN PUTTING THOSE CLEAN DISHES…in the…DISHWASHER to drain. Thus, dishes were always clean and ready to use–in my new dish-cabinet-washer. Two or three times a week–especually during flu season–I rewash everthing in the dishwasher with a ‘sanitizing’ rinse to kill any lucking germs, then begin all over again–use, wash, put in dishwasher, take out, use, wash, put in dishwasher. Please remember that we all have to do what works–for each of us–and you may not agree. Call me whatever, but no dishes in the sink, clean dishes in the dishwasher, and never a dishwasher to empty. [I do, usually, put away my pots and pans] Hugs and blessings.

  2. Sharon says

    I prefer to put my sharp knives in a largeish cup of hot soapy water. Both myself and my husband have cut ourselves and it’s a habit from growing up because my mom is on a fairly high dosage of blood thinners.

  3. Jennifer says

    I used to have a huge problem with dishes. Even though I had a dishwasher, no one wanted to load/unload it and the dirty dishes would just pile up out of control. I bought the Dawn dish scrubber, the one where the Dawn/dish soap goes in the handle, and told everyone to do their dishes as they use them. It has worked so far, it’s so much easier to clean when you have the soap and scrubber right there, you don’t have to rearrange everything to fill the sink up with water and it’s really quick and easy. Every time I see a few dishes in the sink that someone forgot, I just wash them quickly and put them on a towel right beside the sink. I do put the dishes away eventually but a lot of times we just reuse them again anyway instead of getting more out of the cupboards! Jillee, I absolutely love your website!!! Thanks!

  4. says

    Ok, I had 2 big problems since I don’t clean nearly as often as I should (working on that, it’s why I’m here!) First, I think for the first time ever I put every single thing in my kitchen away. No piles of stuff in one corner that would be put away later. I also realized that the junk drawer is full of things that have no place and I’ve been using that instead of finding a place for everything. Second, it took me 15 min to just clear the counters, that’s how overtaken they had become! It is my goal from here on out to do your 15 minute kitchen cleaning at least 3 times per week, then it should NEVER get to the point that is has been before. I am hoping I really can get it down to a 15 min clean-up and be done. Thank you! Do you do this routine daily?

  5. Christina Renae says

    Thank you so so much. I don’t mind cleaning, but I am way too ADD to get anything done, because I never know where to start. You made it so easy for me to just clean my kitchen step by step. It looks amazing. Boyfriend couldn’t believe it when he got home.

    Now I just need a list for every other room in the house hahah.

    • kate says

      me too, I need a list for each room, and I’m not joking. I, too, feel like a packrat reject and overwhelmed. NO, there isn’t $$ for an organizing person to help me! I am on my own with this.

    • Karen says

      Having ADD does make it SEEM impossible. Kate and Christina feel the same as I do when it comes to the cleaning. Organizing & list making are our friends, however–too many lists can make me feel overwhelmed so I stick with one or two!

  6. Nancy says

    When the dishwasher is clean all of our dishes get put away right away. Then instead of dirty dishes going into the sink or on the cupboard they go staight into the dishwasher and no messes. Works great and save a lot of time!!!

  7. Kris Van Allen says

    No, Jane, it IS possible! I was happy to see this list, as this is the order and the steps that I do myself, and it really takes less time than you would think.

    If you just try it, I think you will impress yourself!

  8. Katie says

    I have been putting off cleaning my kitchen all morning…. :)
    Not dreading it so much now! Here I go!!! :)

  9. Jane says

    These kinds of posts always make me feel inadequate. There is no way I could do all that in 15 min! It takes me a good 30 min just do dishes and wipe down counters/appliances. Probably another 15 min to do the floor. And that’s w/ help and w/o putting anything away (because I make the kids do that before I even start prepping dinner).

    • Jodi says

      @ June One of the things that my family started doing (especially when the kids became old enough to help) is doing the clean up after I’ve cooked. My husband and the kids would go in and clean everything up and making sure that it’s showroom ready as I like to say. After years of doing this (they’re now 23 & 20) they can do it without dad supervising and have even gotten into the habit of never laying a dirty dish in the sink to be washed. The rinse it off and place it in the dishwasher. If it’s a glass or a fork etc… They wash and dry it placing it back where it belongs. The kids have even told their friends when they eat over that Mom cooked and we clean up to show her how much we appreciate her hard work. It’s the least we can do.
      As for cleaning the house and doing laundry we also have a system for that. We are all responsible for our own bedrooms. I only ask that no food or dirty dishes are left in their room because of the smell it creates and the bugs/rodents it a tracks (It only took one run in of ants on a backpack to get the message across at the front door). The rest of the house is a pitch in and help don’t leave it to Mom to do all of it. The reason why is that they want to do something and they know that unless they help their father and me out they don’t get to go. They can sit and wait or they can jump in so that Dad and I can go do something too. Since I have two boys I never have had to scrub the toilets because I sit and don’t make a mess. I also do the dusting and the vacuuming. My loving husband mops, does our laundry on Wednesday while I do the Saturday loads and the boys do their own. If you got it out put it back where it belongs and if you don’t you risk losing it if Dad or myself have to pick it up. Trust me after taking toys away like this they learned real quick that it needs to be placed back where it belongs. They also know that its less embarassing to have a clean “lived in” room verses one that you can’t see the floor in or see the top of. They also do their own laundry with only an occasional request to throw a load or two in for them when school(homework, reports) games, work or a combination keeps them from doing it themselves (I’ve only had to do it twice in the last six years). We’ve assigned days for who does laundry and if my husband and I are at work they can throw theirs in as long as its done by the time we get home and the same goes for us. I started teaching them to do their own laundry when they were fourteen. I started teaching them both to cook at that age too. As a parent we wanted our boys to be able to go out in the world and be able to take care of themselves without having to use the excuse “I don’t know how Mom/Dad never showed me how.” My parents and my grandparents have always felt this way and so all of us started learning at an early age how to run a house of our own. By the time we were 17 we were given a week to plan dinner for everyone and basically be head of the house. When we started working we were also given a utility bill to pay and though it wasn’t ever asked for we all put money in for food and for family trips. Even if it was only $20. It all adds up in the end and it was our parents choice to use it for what it was given or placed aside for the future of when we moved out on our own or when we got married and used to purchase the dinning room table and sofa for our first place.

    • CTY says

      Jane–don’t fret. There is absolutely a learning curve with this. You will get faster & more efficient I promise. As for the floor here’s what I do. When all other chores are done–I sweep whenever I can get away with it, for spills & stickiness–I have a bunch of terry rags (bought from paint store)–I use them to spot clean with the leftover dish water. The food area only gets mopped once a week.
      And I’ll tell you a secret–if company is coming and all you have is 15 minutes–mop the floor. The floors are where the dirt is and you don’t want to leave the impression of a dirty kitchen. The rest may be messy but isn’t dirt–does that make sense? And if you have 16 minutes start with a new bag and toss in all the garbage you can find– you can walk the bag to the outside can while you greet your guest(s).

  10. Robin McCastle says

    Love your cleaning tips! Just a word of caution: A sharp knife in a sink of soapy water is a safety hazard.

    • says

      From the time I started washing dishes, I ALWAYS put sharp knives in the sink with handle downward, point toward the faucet on the right side of the sink . ANd have never cut myself. Even my daughter would ask “is there a knife in the sink?” and when I said yes, she could put her hand in soapy water and pull it out.
      Habit, I guess. Same as when I make 2 (or more) cups of tea with different amounts of sugar, my cup is always on the right.

      • Jodi says

        @ Robin not to sound condescending about a knife in the sink full of water. But I think all of us over the age of 16 are aware that in a kitchen sink full of sudsy water you ALWAYS have to use caution when putting your hand in the water. I grew up with a dishwasher (when they first came out ) and during the summer on my grandparents farm where I WAS the dishwasher and had to use a chair to wash the dishes.
        @ Shauna That is such a great idea to remember where in the sink the knifes are as well as which drink is your and trust me I will be doing both. As I mentioned above being the dishwasher in our family I was taught to always place forks and knives pointing towards the top of the sink (away from you).
        However at one time I worked in the seafood department at a local store and the meat cutters taught me that a knife should always be washed immediately after your finished using it. This prevents it from dulling to quickly or allowing the acids from what you’ve cut into to eat at the metal. SO now I wash my knives and dry them placing them blade up in the wooden holder so that the blade doesn’t get dull. I also sharpen my knifes every other time I use them so that they are always sharp and even if I don’t sharpen them they’re still sharper than most because of how I take care of them. Kudos Shauna! Yours is a great suggestion. Robin you’re just telling us something we already knew.