wfmw1It occurred to me as my oldest granddaughter, Q, was helping me clean the dishes that we aren’t born knowing how to do this job. Thinking back to my childhood, I recall my parents teaching us how. (My first job was to clean the spoons. It was probably more play than work.) At almost ten years old there isn’t any part of kitchen clean-up Q can’t handle, with the exception of the big heavy pots and pans. 


Now here’s the before picture of an “Advanced Lesson in Kitchen Clean-up”! This is my mom’s kitchen after a big holiday dinner. None of us really wanted to clean so we just stacked it up. Everything in this picture is dirty! Yes, definitely not the way to do it.


So, how to clean a kitchen – the ideal way:

  • Start with a dish pan of hot soapy water. Then start cooking your meal or baking. Wash up as you go. When you empty a pan, fill it with cold water  and let it soak while you are eating. Cold water is especially good for soaking any kind of starchy food like potatoes or rice.
  • After the meal, start a new pan of hot soapy water if the first one is cold or greasy.
  • Put in all the silverware to soak as you rinse the plates and get everything stacked up.
  • Put away any leftover food. Put a label on it. Even if it’s only enough for someone’s lunch, say     what it is or put their name on it. 
  • Wash the silverware, rinse and put in the drainer to dry.
  • Next wash the glasses or other stemware, rinse and set to dry.
  • Next clean the plates, and then any  utensils (spatulas, wooden spoons, etc.) that you’ve used.
  • While your dishwater is still fairly clean wash off all the surfaces in the kitchen – counter tops, the stove top, microwave, anything spilled in the oven, handles on the refrigerator, and so forth.
  • Now do the mixing bowls or other preparation containers. (Prepare a new dishpan if necessary.)
  • Finally clean the pans or the other messy, greasy, grungy stuff.
  • Empty the dishpan and rinse it out. Scrub the sink and everything around it. 
  • If you are on your own on this job, you could cover the clean dishes with a dishtowel and let them air dry. Then come back later and put them away. 
  • But wait, there are still a couple more things to complete the job: take the garbage to the compost pile, sweep the floor and take the trash outside. 

When I was growing up there were four of us kids and this nightly kitchen duty was divided up. I’m sure, because we were young, we resented these jobs. But, my memory brings this time back as lots of fun – laughing, talking, joking and, I’m sure, the old swatting each other with dish towels routine. 

Now most kitchens have dishwashers and that’s a shame. There’s so much to be gained from these simple tasks. Even if by yourself, it’s a great time for singing and thanksgiving, prayer and meditation. Before the light is turned out on the kitchen, give thanks for it and the food therein. Sometimes the simple things bring the most joy.

For more of What Works For Me, visit Rocks In My Dryer.