9 Tips To Minimize Post-Dinner Cleanup

Afterdinner cleanup is a necessary evil. But, you can make the chore less painful with a few strategic moves.

post dinner clean up

You know what’s almost as bad as facing a dirty kitchen when it’s time to cook dinner? Facing that dirty kitchen after you’ve cooked said dinner. The unfortunate consequence of making a home-cooked meal is the mess — having to clean the pots, the pans, the counters, etc.

Since dinner happens in your kitchen hundreds of times a year, focusing on efficient ways to keep it clean is an investment that pays off by making dinnertime and its aftermath far less painful.

It would be nice if the 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.

Here are 10 tips to minimize dinner cleanup.

1. Empty the Dishwasher Before Dinner

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.

2. Clean as You Cook

Keep a bowl of warm, soapy water by the sink while you cook.

This way, as you’re finished using smaller stuff (utensils and measuring spoons, for example), you can slip them right into the bowl. Doing so will keep the bottom of your sink clear of clutter and make it easier to clean these items when it’s time.

Let cookware soak in the bowl while you’re working on another part of the meal, and address spills and splatters right when they happen.

3. If Possible, Minimize Cooking Tools

post dinner clean up

Do you really need to use two measuring cups if all of the ingredients are going into the same bowl? We say no. To help lighten the load of dish duty, curtail the amount of utensils, bowls and measuring tools you use while cooking. You’ll thank yourself later!

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4. Keep the Trashcan Close

If you store the trash under the kitchen sink or in a cabinet, pull it out and take the lid off. Keep it next to you as you’re chopping vegetables. Toss fruit rinds and vegetable peels as you go. That way, there will be no evidence of prep work at all!

5. Develop Good Cooking Habits

If you store the trash under the kitchen sink or in a cabinet, pull it out and take the lid off. Keep it next to you as you’re chopping vegetables. Toss fruit rinds and vegetable peels as you go. That way, there will be no evidence of prep work at all!

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6. Be Ready for Leftovers

Make sure any food storage containers you’ll need are ready, whether it’s for large quantities of food you’ve prepped ahead of time or smaller portions of dinner that you’re packaging for lunches. 

Then, move leftovers into their appropriate containers right as cooking is finished. Pots and pans are a lot easier to clean when they are still warm, and with food already in storage, you’ll be less likely to overeat.

7. Find a Helper

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.

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8. Use Easy-to-Clean Tablecloths & Placemats

Choose to use a tablecloth that’s machine washable or one that can easily be wiped down when the plates are cleared. The same goes for cleaning your placemats – the easier those are to clean, the faster post dinner cleanup will go.

9. Remind Yourself that Waiting Only Means More Work Later

Waiting to clean up after dinner doesn’t just put it off until later; doing so actually makes the task harder than it needs to be. When food dries on dirty dishes, counters, and the stove it’ll take longer to clean and require more effort.

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