7 Tips for Quick and Easy Cleanup After Dinner

It would be nice if a delicious, home-cooked meal didn't come with the downside of having to do dishes once you've finished eating. But tidying up doesn’t have to be a big chore. There are steps you can take to make cleanup fast and simple. Check out these 7 tricks to make after-dinner dish duty easier than ever.

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  1. Start with a clean slate

    Unloading dishwasher

    If the dishwasher is already loaded and the sink is full of dirty dishes, your post-dinner mess has already doubled in scope. Make your life easier by making sure the kitchen is clean before you start cooking. Unload the dishwasher, clear out the dish rack, and take out the trash if it is full. When you clear the decks first, it's much easier—and quicker—to clean up as you cook and after you eat.


    Related: 12 Smart Dishwashing Hacks No One Ever Taught You

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  2. Clean as you cook

    Soak dirty pots and pans

    If your kitchen looks like a disaster zone after you've whipped up a midweek pot of spaghetti and meatballs, you're probably not one of those home chefs who clean as they cook. It may sound like more work to tidy as you go, but making a few changes to your cooking routine will actually save you time down the line. Put ingredients back as soon as you’ve finished using them, let cookware soak in the sink while you’re working on another part of the meal, and address spills and splatters right when they happen.


    Related: 11 Ways You're Accidentally Ruining Your Cookware

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  3. Keep the kitchen stocked

    Sponge and dishsoap

    What could be worse than buckling down to wash a sink full of dishes only to discover you're out of dishwasher detergent and your grimy sponge needs to be ditched? Keep your kitchen stocked with cleaning essentials and always have your favorite cleaners on hand, and you'll never find yourself in a messy situation.


    Related: 10 Things Always to Keep Near Your Kitchen Sink

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  4. Develop good cooking habits

    Cutting board

    Not everyone can be a master chef, but anyone can learn to make less mess in the kitchen. Practice good habits, such as keeping a towel on hand to wipe away spills, using a bowl to collect vegetable peels and food scraps, and rinsing and reusing the same cooking utensils to do different jobs.

    Related: 10 Gadgets for Every Lazy Cook's Kitchen

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  5. Be prepared for leftovers

    Leftover spaghetti sauce

    Fitting leftovers in the fridge is like a game of Tetris: You have to strategically position bowls and packaged food on top of each other to make room for everything. Rather than rearranging the contents of your fridge every time you eat, clear it out on a weekly or biweekly basis so there will always be room to store what's left of dinner.

    Related: How to Grow Fresh Produce from Your Leftover Groceries

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  6. Cover up

    Biscuits parchment paper

    Try to cover whatever you can, whether it's the cookie sheet or the kitchen table, to eliminate exposure to sticky substances and reduce the number of things you need to scrub. Foil and parchment paper can be used on baking sheets to catch grease and drips, and then thrown in the garbage after cooking. When you keep the table covered, you can just shake off the crumbs so the cloth will be clean for the next morning, or toss it in the wash if it's splattered with drips.

    Related: 12 Kitchen Gadgets People Always Regret Buying

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  7. Have helpers!

    Helping with dishes

    The best way to speed up cleaning after dinner? Have helpers. No one person should be stuck cleaning up the mess. The more hands involved with cleaning, the more quickly your kitchen will shine again.

    Related: 9 Health Code Violations Hiding in Your Kitchen

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