3 Simple Steps to Keep Kitchen Surfaces Clear
So how do we achieve this state of bliss? How do we clear kitchen counters and keep them that way?
1. Clear out the cupboards so you can store things in them.
The things we keep on the counter are the things we use most often, but we may be forfeiting valuable cupboard space to things we use rarely, if at all.
Do you have a pasta maker or ice cream maker shoved way in the back? Or a stack of large serving trays? Or maybe you have a waffle maker, even though you always serve French toast because it's easier to prepare and to clean up. Maybe you have a cupboard overflowing with mismatched mugs, or vases, or a third set of dishes your mom gave you.
You probably need cupboard space more than you need these dusty items, so declutter them and make room for the things you like to use that currently crowd your countertop.
Do you think you'll lose efficiency if you store the items you use regularly out of sight? For example, the toaster. Yes, you use it four or five times a week, but only for a few minutes at a time. Why should it take up counter space all day every day? My toaster lives in the cupboard. It takes a few seconds to get it out and plug it in when I want toast. The same would apply to the stand mixer you use every couple of weeks or the blender you use for five minutes most mornings.
Evaluate everything on your worktop, particularly if you must always maneuver around things or move them to make room for food prep or clean up. (Especially if you find yourself just wiping around them most of the time.) Appliances or storage containers that get dusty between uses definitely belong somewhere else.
You can make life in the kitchen easier. If you clear a cupboard or a drawer of things you never use, you can put the items you do need out of sight, but still easily accessible.
2. Establish the one touch rule.
When you come into the house with your jacket or attaché, don't set it on a chair or the counter – hang it on its hook right away. You don't want to handle it again until you're leaving the house. Open mail right over the recycling bin, put bills on your desk, and hang the birthday card on your bulletin board. You don't want to have to touch that pile again. Put groceries or clean dishes away immediately so you don't have to deal with them again.
Keeping the one touch rule saves time, since you don't have to retrace your steps to pick up after yourself. It saves you anxiety and aggravation, because you don't have to wonder "Now where did I put that?" or "Why is there a pile of junk all over the worktop again?"
The one touch rule lets you be more relaxed, and even a little bit lazy. Since you're not procrastinating, but dealing with stuff immediately, you don't have to remember or think about or do anything with those items later. They never have a chance to become clutter.
3. Practice your new system.
The items that crowded your counter were there because it was your habit to keep them there. You're going to have to make some effort to establish new habits.
Be ready for some pushback. You're going to think, "What's the big deal if I don't put the toaster away?" or "Why should I put the tea bags in the drawer when I'll have to get them out again?"
- Do a quick pick-up (toss trash, put things away, sweep the floor).
- Load the dishwasher or wash the dishes.
- Wipe down the stove and counter.
Tidying after every meal means that the kitchen never gets out of hand. Dishes don't pile up, the stove doesn't accumulate cooked-on crud, and the counter is never a disaster. Everything stays manageable, and your kitchen looks like it's ready to be featured in a magazine.