Good To Know: How to Speed Clean Your Kitchen

Yesterday I interviewed the kitchen manager from Friends of the Homeless in Springfield for a newspaper story.  In just under 17 minutes, 153 hungry people were fed by her small team of regular staff and a handful of volunteers who gave up their own lunch hour to help someone else.  That’s amazing in my book.

The kitchen manager was proud of her crew and also of her spotless kitchen.  I was amazed as she showed me around the work area.  It was so clean, almost as if the place had opened for the first time earlier in the week instead of three years ago.

Their grill sparkled, their commercial-grade mixer was tucked away in the corner and neatly covered.  Silver work tables gleamed and well-cared for tools stood at attention, waiting to be useful.  Pantry storage was tidy, refrigerators and freezers were packed to the brim, all in an ever-rotating momentum that filled bellies with nourishment.

The absence of a fry-o-lator meant non-slippery floors, no smell (yup, that smell…) and, best of all, healthy food.  Most everything was baked.   Eggs, hamburgers, chicken, you name it, all baked to ensure no chance of something being under cooked and someone getting sick.  As the kitchen manager told me, “our guests already have enough to worry about.”

After driving home through sleet and icy roads, I took a look around my own kitchen.  I keep a clean kitchen but there’s always room for improvement:  The ground turkey defrosting on the stovetop from the morning was probably not the best idea.  The dishes in the sink since the day before were probably more worrisome than the trash bin ready to be taken into the garage.  My counters looked clean but were they really?  Oh, and  my cat jumps on the table, so there’s also that minor detail.

I put my hair up in a ponytail and opened up the cabinets under the sink.  I pulled out my basket full of anti-bacterials and things that make germs run for cover.  I set my kitchen timer to 20 minutes and got to work speed cleaning my favorite room in the house.

I emptied the dishwasher then emptied the sink.  I sprayed the stove top, sink, counters and table and did a quick sweep of my glamorous linoleum floor with my trusty O-Cedar dry mop before wiping everything down.  Talk about satisfying!  It gave me energy to attack the back splash, the knobs on the top of the range top and even spruce up the microwave and toaster.

My usually ignored cabinet doors and stove hood got a little attention as well as my fridge with a once-over inside and out.  Will I ever be able to drink a half gallon of milk before it spoils?  Probably not.  That broken egg shell in the carton I didn’t see?  Pitched.  Turns out empty egg shells put back in the carton are bad.  More on that another day, though.

I sat down to catch my breath and made a mental note of the quick things that I could do at the end of each day (empty the sink, start the dishwasher, wipe down surfaces) and weekly (floor, appliances and trash bin).  My father taught me how to properly wash a floor kinda like Cinderella on hands and knees with a bucket full of suds and a bar mop towel.  I guess I have that to look forward to before the month is up.

I even wondered if I could make the switch to non-toxic cleaners that I make myself?    I was on a roll until the phone rang, snapping me back from my domestic daydreams but giving me good ideas to think about until I could spend a little more time on them.  What’s your kitchen speed cleaning routine?