12 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look Cleaner Than It Really Is

Hate cleaning with the heat of a thousand burning suns? Try these tricks to create the illusion that your kitchen is spic-and-span.

By Nicole Shein | Updated Nov 23, 2021 12:14 PM

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Photo: istockphoto.com

Sometimes you have to fake it ’til you make it. Other times, you might not even care about making it—you’re perfectly OK with faking it forever. If that’s how you feel about having a clean kitchen, know that you’re not alone. A recent survey revealed that women, even more than men, rely on some surprising shortcuts to avoid doing a whole household chore. For example, more than half of women admit to spot cleaning the floor rather than sweeping and mopping all of it. (Only a third of men confessed to this slapdash solution.)

Do your holidays involve hosting duties, or at the very least, graciously opening your door to drop-in guests? Check out these clever items that will make your kitchen seem cleaner than it really is.

1. Buy a bigger breadbox.

Cleaning Kitchen

Photo: Amazon.com

Accomplished home bakers who turn out Instagram-perfect crusty baguettes or mile-high milk bread rolls will love the visibility—and capacity—provided by countertop storage option from Laura’s Green Kitchen. Us ordinary folks who make do with store-brand sandwich slices or biscuits from a refrigerated can might prefer to stash the daily bread in a chic farmhouse-style container like the Baie Maison breadbox, which is equally roomy but offers a bit more privacy for all your guilty breakfast pleasures.

Get the Laura’s Green Kitchen Large Bread Box for $44.94

Get the Baie Maison Extra Large Breadbox at Amazon for $39.95

2. Master your mise en place.

Clean Kitchen

Photo: Prepdeck.com

Would you rather have an organized tidy kitchen or delectable gourmet meals? Why not both? It’s possible with Prepdeck, a portable prep station that both holds ingredients and unfolds into a streamlined workspace. With more than 45 features and tools, including a cutting board and integrated receptacle for scraps and trash, it’s a must-have for cooks who can’t tolerate countertop chaos. After dinner, just fold the Prepdeck back into its original compact shape and cleanup is complete.

Get the Prepdeck at Prepdeck.com for $99

3. Distract guests with aromas of fresh baked goods.

Clean Kitchen

Photo: pandjtrading.com

You’ve probably heard that real estate agents simmer cinnamon sticks or citrus on the stove for a homey-smelling open house. For an even easier, more flexible approach to aromatherapy, diffuse essential oils in vanilla, spice, and brown sugar scents, or use them to make a nontoxic room spray. Your kitchen will smell so sweet that no one may notice or care about that sinkful of dirty dishes or the leaning tower of pizza boxes in your recycling bin.

Get the Autumn Set of 6 Fragrance Oils at Amazon for $16.95

4. Establish a place for everything. 

Clean Kitchen

Photo: containerstore.com

When you reach underneath your kitchen sink to get a dishwasher tab or new sponge, does it feel like you might get sucked down into a different dimension—a latter-day rabbit hole lined with aluminum foil, loose freezer bags and stray rubber gloves? Get your supplies in order with this organizer that adjusts and expands to fit around plumbing fixtures and make the most of the under-sink space. Removable shelves and pull-out bins offer further flexibility.

Get the Expandable Under Sink Organizer at The Container Store for $39.99

5. Tackle tough tasks with towels in a tub.

Clean Kitchen

Photo: Amazon.com

Leave a spot in your sink organizer for a Tub O’ Towels. Fancy Swedish dishcloths and microfiber towels have their uses, but if your toddler decorates the wall with lipstick and Sharpie, or your teenager spills nail polish on the kitchen table, you’ll be glad to have extra-large workhorse wipes nearby. And when an unexpected guest texts that they’ll be there in 10, grab one of these tough towels to touch up just about any surface in a snap.

Get the Tub O Towels Multi-Surface Cleaning Wipes at Amazon for $13.94

6. Cover the floor with vintage-inspired vinyl.

Clean Kitchen

Photo: food52.com

There’s not much nicer to behold than a sparkling clean kitchen floor—and not much that’s harder to maintain. This gorgeous floor mat means you can stop sweeping and mopping every time anyone makes a meal with a side of mess. Vintage-inspired Persian-rug patterns are not only comfortable underfoot, they can easily camouflage small spills or fallen crumbs. Thanks to the easy-to-clean vinyl and non-skid backing, these mats and runners can help make a kitchen look less messy.

Get the Vintage-Inspired Persian Vinyl Mats at Food52 for $60

7. Slide your mess into a nook or cranny.

Clean Kitchen

Photo: Lowes.com

Let’s face it: a cluttered space simply doesn’t look very clean. Unless it’s splattered with spilled marinara, a vast expanse of clear countertop is bound to appear cleaner than one cluttered with cooking tools, twist ties, mail, magazines, chip bags, and cracker packages. So the more stuff you can stash away, the neater your kitchen will seem. Take advantage of every nook and cranny, starting with this skinny slide-out pantry rack that tucks into any space wider than 5 inches.

Get the Hastings Home Slim Slide Out Pantry Storage Rack at Lowe’s for $36.70

8. Go with a faux backsplash that’ll hide cooking splatters.

Clean Kitchen

Photo: wallpops.com

When it comes to kitchen backsplashes, smoked glass tiles—most often white, black, and gray—are becoming popular. Get the look for much less and switch it out easily when the trend gets stale with peel-and-stick tiles. Take-out and delivery devotees who seldom cook could choose bright white temporary tiles for a spotless appearance; avid chefs might want a darker design to hide smears and stains. Limitless looks and affordable prices let you transform your backsplash.

Get the Camden Antique Bronze Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles at Wall Pops for $16.79

9. Cover the cooktop. 

Picture your kitchen at 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. on an average weeknight. Dinner is done, the dishes are washed, you’ve fed the pets, the counters are clean. Now you’re ready to relax (and by “relax” you mean “collapse on the couch and stare at a screen”).

“Nope, not so fast,” your cooktop might say if it was a character in a Disney movie. “I’m filthy! Clean me!” Hide the mess and silence that critical cooktop with this sleek handmade wood cover. It easily blends with transitional or modern farmhouse styles.

Get the Wood Stovetop Cover from Etsy seller SuburbanFarmhouse LLC for $96.76+

10. Keep trash out of sight.

Cleaning Kitchen

Photo: Homedepot.com

An overflowing recycling bin or kitchen trash can doesn’t exactly project a clean and tidy vibe. Put the refuse out of sight and out of mind with a stylish two-sided receptacle. The Step N’ Sort offers two separate, removable bins for easy emptying and cleaning tucked in the same heavy-duty stainless steel frame for a streamlined silhouette. Its generous capacity—each compartment holds more than 9 gallons—means fewer trips to the outdoor bins while still keeping the mess under wraps.

Get the Step N’ Sort Two Compartment Trash Can and Recycling Bin at Home Depot for $107

11. Get food out out of bags and cardboard boxes and into a bin.

Cleaning Kitchen

Photo: webstaurantstore.com

It pays to buy baking supplies in bulk, especially when bakers are ramping up cookie, cake, and pie production for the holidays. The same goes for rice, oats, pet food—or anything packaged in big, unwieldy bags. Transfer your bulk purchases into capacious bins from Baker’s Mark. This 2.6-gallon bin holds about 12 pounds of flour or 18 pounds of sugar. Bigger bins are available as well. The opaque body delivers unobtrusive organization, while busy bakers can instantly ID their ingredients by looking through the clear lid.

Get the Baker’s Mark 2.6 Gallon Ingredient Bin at WebRestaurantStore for $18.99

12. Clean, if you really must.

Clean Kitchen

Photo: Walmart.com

Sometimes, the only way to make your kitchen look clean is… to actually clean it. (Sigh.) Still, you don’t have to spend all day in Cinderella mode. Instead, tackle the grime with an all-in-one floor cleaning system such as the versatile voice-assisted IonVac. This cordless wet/dry cleaner, is a lightweight wonder that cleans all kinds of flooring: carpet, rugs, hardwood, ceramic tile, laminate, and vinyl.

Get the IonVac HydraClean at Walmart for $199.