How to Keep Your Kitchen Clean One Minute at a Time

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Can you spare a minute if it means a clean kitchen?

My least favorite thing about working in a restaurant was cleaning up at the end of the night. Especially on busy nights, when the dishes piled up and the floors got covered with bits of food. Sadly, that scenario is not unique to the restaurant industry. Sometimes when cooking a from-scratch meal at home, my kitchen looks the exact same way. If you’re like me, you might find yourself at a loss for how to keep your kitchen clean and still put (good) weeknight dinners on the table.

Then, I came across the one-minute rule, and I’m pretty sure it changed my life. It seemed like such an easy thing to do—just clean as you cook—so I gave it a try. What happened? At the end of the meal, almost all of the dishes were washed or in the dishwasher and my kitchen was basically clean! (Learn more kitchen cleaning secrets.)

What is the one-minute rule?

The One-Minute Rule goes as follows: I must do any task that can be finished in one minute. That’s it—if it only takes a minute, just get it done this minute. It’s a way of tricking yourself into doing all kinds of little things instead of putting them off until they pile up into a mountainous to-do list. So, instead of trying to figure out your priorities, you simply assess each task based on the time it will take. And, if it takes less than a minute, you just do it.

Clean Smarter with One-Minute Cleaning Intervals

As an example, I was baking homemade bread the other day. I had all kinds of measuring spoons, cups and bowls out to mix my ingredients together. Normally, I have a tendency to throw those things into the sink and leave them for later. I always have great intentions to clean up after I’m finished cooking but all too often, I get lazy and leave them for tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like doing it tomorrow either, and since my kitchen is such a mess I usually end up ordering take-out instead of cooking.

This time, using the One-Minute Rule, I rinsed off my measuring spoons and placed them into the dishwasher before I went back to mixing my bread. When the bread was resting, I washed the bowls (because it only took a minute!) and wiped the excess flour off the counter. As it turned out, it was neither annoying nor time-consuming to clean up one minute at a time. I transformed from being someone who had a sink full of dishes (the old me) to someone who actually washes dishes efficiently as I go. It felt so much better to load the dishwasher one item at a time instead of letting things pile up, creating an hour’s worth of work for later.

How to Keep Your Kitchen Clean

Once I got into the practice, I started looking for one-minute tasks everywhere I went. How long does it take to wipe down the kitchen counters with a Swedish dishcloth? Less than a minute! (Get the full scoop on Swedish dishcloths here). What about cleaning out the sink after washing the dishes? Yup, that qualifies. Wiping down the stovetop? With the Test Kitchen Preferred Goo Gone degreaser, you’ll be done in a snap.

Replacing the trash liner after taking out the trash? Easy. Tidying the counters and putting away stray items? You bet! Is your floor disgusting? This Test Kitchen Preferred Bissell mop allows you to sweep and mop at the SAME time. Time yourself and give it a whirl! In fact, you can clean any appliance in your kitchen with the One-Minute Ruleeven charred pots and pans! Just soak those stubborn messes in hot water, then come back and quickly clean with our favorite stainless steel scrubber.

This one tiny habit turned into the difference between a dirty kitchen and a sparkling clean one. Not only that, I found myself happier and more enthused about cooking. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I think I might apply the rule to the rest of my cluttered life. Because, why not? It only takes a minute.

Learn more about how to declutter your kitchen right now!

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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.