Smart Ways to Make Cleaning the Kitchen Less of a Chore — Apartment Therapy’s Chore-Free Summer

Welcome to Apartment Therapy’s Chore-Free Summer. Every weekday until July 20, we’re arming you with time-saving shortcuts and hacks that’ll help you work smarter, not harder, when it comes to homekeeping this summer. Because cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore.

Not all kitchen messes are created equal. But whether you’re a dedicated home cook or somebody who has local takeout joints’ phone numbers saved as favorites, you still have to clean up after yourself.

If you dread the end-of-the-weekend deep clean, here’s the truth: You can skip it. But you have to be diligent about your everyday tidying. Here’s the plan:

Every Day: Do a Sweep

It’s about taking the "chore" out of the kitchen cleaning equation and instead finding small moments to fit in a bit of work in between the things you do every day. Here are some ideas that might work for you:

  • While you’re fixing coffee or tea: Wipe down the counters for a few minutes while your beverage steeps or brews.
  • Each time you pour a glass of water: Wipe down the front of one cabinet or appliance.
  • When you get home from work: Sweep or use a cordless vacuum on the kitchen floor
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy)

From Time to Time: 5 Helpful Tricks

The everyday sweep will keep your kitchen fairly clean, but these lazy tips will take you all the way.

Freshen your garbage disposal with lemons and ice cubes

As you’re using lemons (or limes or anything citrusy, really), you can toss the rinds or the squeezed-out slices into your garbage disposal for a quick odor refresher. Toss an ice cube in there, too, and it can help to dislodge any stuck-on food.

Line the toaster oven with aluminum foil

That tray that slides out from your countertop oven? You’ll never have to clean it again if you smartly line it with a layer of aluminum foil. Replace the foil every so often, when you want a pristine kitchen or if it gets too mucked up and starts to burn or smell.

Line the range with hob protectors

I don’t know about you, but my stovetop is the messiest place in my kitchen, and maybe the least fun to clean. These gas range protectors are cut to fit, reusable and dishwasher safe, so you can just lift and rinse any mess to reveal a spotless stove underneath.

Soak any stuck-on mess

If there’s a stuck-on mess anywhere in the kitchen, like the counters or stovetop, don’t spend a minute giving it elbow grease. Even though it can’t fit in the sink, those surfaces can soak. Wet a warm, soapy cloth, and stretch it out on top of the mess, then leave it for around 10 minutes. When you get back, the mess will be easier to lift away—just wipe and rinse with a wet (non-soapy) cloth.

Leave extra garbage liners inside the can

To grease the wheel of your take-out-the-garbage routine, leave yourself a small supply of trash bags right inside the can—so the next one is ready to replace when you lift out the full bag. Or better yet, you can stretch several bags over the bin at once, nested and layered and ready to go. Just be careful when you’re lifting out the full bag to only remove one layer at a time.

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