Why is the kitchen the area of the house that seems to get the most cluttered?
I kept asking myself this question a few weeks ago.
For many families, the kitchen is the gathering place. It’s where we eat, talk, and even argue.
Kitchens also have lots of hiding spaces for clutter in drawers and cabinets. If you have ADHD then you know how easy it can be to just shut the cabinet door and forget the mess that lurks inside.
Spending an entire day cleaning out my kitchen is not my idea of fun. So I did it in a few hours, and it wasn’t that bad.
Here are my my step-by-step directions for how to clean your kitchen fast.
Kitchen organization for ADHD adults
You are going to need either paper towels or rags, whichever you prefer for cleaning in and around cabinets.
Get yourself a sturdy box or bin so you have a place to put the items you wish to donate later.
A smallish bucket is good to have so you can fill it with soapy water.
Invest in some decent cleaning chemicals. I like to use something different on my counters and surfaces than I do in the cabinets themselves. If you like, you can use plain old dish soap or even Clorox wipes.
Check out Pinterest for all sorts of recipes to make natural, chemical-free cleaning solutions.
In the kitchen I suggest using two different sponges/cloths at all times. One for dishes and one for surfaces.
First, clean off the table
Think of your kitchen table as a work space. You need some room when you are cleaning out cupboards and cabinets.
Sort any papers and bills and find a home for them. Put your children’s school paperwork and artwork in its designated place.
Load any glasses or dishes in the dishwasher or hand wash them to get them out of the way. Wipe down the table and chairs so you have a nice space to work with.
Start on the bottom
I like to start on the bottom left hand side of my kitchen cupboards. In my house this area houses food storage containers and a few drawers.
Sort through the items in the bottom cupboard, collecting items that you no longer use or want for donation. Toss broken items or things that look dirty or unusable.
In the book Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD, Susan Pinksy suggests whiddling your Tupperware collection down to five or fewer pieces. While I personally do not prefer this, I can see how you would definitely save yourself some storage space.
If you decide to keep a larger set of food storage containers there are a variety of cabinet organizational items available on Amazon.
When the cabinet is empty, take a wet soapy cloth and wipe down the insides of the cabinet.
Put everything back into the cabinet slowly to make sure you have weeded out all of the unwanted or unnecessary clutter.
Keep things simple under the sink. Dish soap, dishwasher fluid, sponges, cleaning chemicals and maybe some trash bags is really all you need.
Repeat this decluttering process in each of the bottom cabinets from one end of your kitchen to the other. When you are finished with the bottom cabinets, start on the drawers.
One drawer at a time
Empty one drawer at a time onto your clean kitchen table. Pick through the items to determine if/when you last used them.
**Hint: if you didn’t know you had that olive grabber and you never used it, you can probably toss it.
If anything needs to be washed by hand do that, and then clean out the drawer itself. Again, take your time putting everything back in so that you can decide how you want to arrange it.
If one of your drawers is too full to close, ask yourself if you can move anything to a different or deeper drawer. Some larger soup ladles and serving spoons fit better in deeper drawers, while everyday utensils can fit in a shallow space.
Some people store their most used utensils and serving spoons are displayed in a crock or jar on the counter top. This is a perfectly acceptable idea if you have the counter space.
When storing pots and pans in drawers make sure they are separated somehow to protect any non-stick surfaces. I use paper towels. It doesn’t look fabulous but it gets the job done.
Assess whether you actually use all of the pots and pans that you have. If you never use that electric griddle or the giant wok then add it to the donation box.
Repeat this process in each of the drawers rotating around the room.
Move to the top cabinets
Take out every day dishes and place on the table. If you find things at the top or in the back of your cabinets that you have not used in a long time consider donating them using the box you grabbed at the beginning.
Drink wear and coffee mugs have a way of multiplying, so put them on the table so you can see exactly how many you have. I actually got rid of a whole box of old coffee mugs that were taking up space in my cabinets.
Toss old water bottles and sippy cups that your children no longer use.
Clean out the inside of the cabinets and let them air out while you sort through the contents.
Take your time and put your dishes and glasses away slowly. This gives you a chance to reorganize your current system if it is not working for you.
For example, it makes absolutely no sense to have your large mixing bowls at eye level when you don’t use them every day. Move the mixing bowls to a higher or lower location, and put your cereal bowls at eye level.
Wipe down the outside of the cupboards
If you have wood cabinetry you might notice that kitchen grime builds up over time on the outside and underside of your cabinets.
My favorite way to clean cabinets is to fill a bucket with warm water and Murphy’s Oil Soap, and then go to town cleaning them.
**Hint: Get a fresh bucket of water to do this.
Start with the outside of the top cabinets so that you can clean up any drips when you do the bottom. You don’t have to spend too long, just wipe them down and get some of that kitchen dust and grease that accumulates.
To be honest, I only clean the outside of my cabinets this way a couple times per year. Most of the time I wipe them down with wipes and call it done.
Clean the countertops and stove
Save the countertops for the end. You never know if you might end up standing on the counter or dripping on them.
Move your coffee maker and other appliances around so that you can clean underneath them. I am always amazed how much yucky stuff I find under my toaster and microwave.
While you are moving around your small appliances take note of which ones you are using and which you are not. Is it possible to store your large stand mixer in some other location? Or maybe that extra coffee maker?
Again, you might have a large kitchen with plenty of counter space. I do not, so I like to keep lesser-used appliances out of my eye line so things don’t look cluttered.
Use a good cleaner on your stovetop to remove any baked-on food. My gas stove requires quite a bit of scrubbing to make it look clean, but it’s worth it.
See this article for how to clean off the burners of a gas stove.
Finally, stand back and take it in. How long did it take? How does it look?
Don’t worry about it being perfect, we all know there is no normal when it comes to housekeeping.
Appreciate the work you have done. Take pride in it.
Learning how to clean out your kitchen is a process, just like all aspects of decluttering and organizing. It takes preparation and a solid plan.
Hopefully, my step-by-step instructions for cleaning your kitchen fast are helpful to you. Feel free to comment with suggestions and action items.
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