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There’s a common rule in many people’s households: Whoever cooks dinner does not have to wash the dishes. The logic behind it is pretty simple—after slaving over a hot stove, the cook should get to prop up his or her feet while the other person(s) washes up.
However, over at Cupcakes and Cashmere, blogger Emily Schuman says otherwise. In her household, whoever cooks must also clean up after the meal.
Why? She explains:
Doing things this way ensures that whoever cooks is held responsible for not making a huge mess, which actually minimizes cleanup time and ensures that it gets done. If you know that someone else is handling the dishes, you’re less motivated to clean as you go and use as few dishes as possible.
This system could definitely work as long as you and your partner are both able cooks. Otherwise, you will have quite an unequal burden of labor on your hands! If one partner doesn’t know how to cook, then they will never have to wash up. Of course, there are other household chores they could perform instead, but let’s face it—cleaning up the kitchen is one of the most time-consuming and yuck-inducing tasks.
Luckily, regardless of how you divide up the labor in your home, there are so many tips and tricks that can make kitchen cleanup easier.
Consider some of these ideas from Faith Durand over at The Kitchn:
1. Buy A Flexible Mat Cutting Board
You won’t ever have to lug your cutting board over to the sink again! A flexible mat clings to the top of a thicker cutting board or your countertop so it won’t slide over all the place, and it is easy to pick up and rinse. Plus, your cutting board won’t get as dirty. Win-win! Check out these from Cooler Kitchen available on Amazon.
2. Use A Garbage Bag/Bowl
Some people hang a plastic bag by a counter handle, or they keep a large bowl on the counter for easy scrap disposal. From pepper seeds to wrappers to stems to empty cans, you can collect everything as you go, instead of walking back and forth to the trash can or disposal and dropping stuff everywhere in the process. If you compost, you can keep food waste bags on hand, like Biobags, which are available on Amazon.
3. Put Everything You Need On The Counter Before You Begin Cooking
You can set all your ingredients on a large baking sheet alongside any pots or pans you plan to use. You’ll be able to throw the meal together much faster—and if you’re in charge of cleanup, you can get a head start while dinner is baking or simmering on the stove.
4. Prepare A Sink Full Of Hot Soapy Water
Have a bath ready for your dirty dishes, so that you can soak them before the mess gets dried on. You could also keep a squirt bottle of kitchen cleaner (your preferred brand, or use a DIY green cleaner like this homemade lemon kitchen cleaner from Simple Bites) nearby.
5. Get A DustBuster
No, really! I know DustBusters might seem a bit retro like fondue or bell-bottom pants, but nothing beats this handy gadget. You can quickly suck up any crumbs you drop on the floor as you go, which means they won’t get stuck to your feet and end up all over the house.
6. Do Prep Work First
Do all the cutting and washing ahead of time. Use prep bowls (like these Luminarc bowls on Amazon) to have everything you need close at hand. Not only will this keep things neater, but you won’t be racing around trying to cut or wash things while your food is simmering on the stove.