One of the complaints I hear most often from people is that while the cooking is ok, the cleaning afterward makes them crazy. I get it, I really do. You’ve made a meal for everyone, they’ve eaten (or not), and then you either have to kick back into high gear for cleaning OR have to do bedtime duty. You finally get the kids to sleep and then you face a messy kitchen when all you want to do is collapse. It stinks…
But it doesn’t have to! While I don’t have a fairy godmother who can come in and do the cleaning for you (if you figure out how to get one of those, please let me know!), I do have some tricks that can help to make the cleaning less of a chore.
8 Tricks to Make the Cleaning After Cooking Easier
Make a Deal
For most families, I know the deal is this: whoever doesn’t do the cooking does the cleaning. But this doesn’t have to be the deal. Other options include whoever is not on bedtime duty does the dishes or one person loads the dishwasher and the other does the dishes. The point is, you don’t have to do it all and you can get creative. So sit down with your partner or with the whole family and come up with a system that works for you.
Clean as You Go
While I know this means you still have to do the cleaning, one of my favorite tricks is to wash and/or rinse dishes while I am waiting for the food to cook. This gives me a chance to clear the decks and makes the pile after dinner look much less daunting.
Parchment Paper for the Win
As far as I am concerned, parchment paper is one of the best inventions ever. I use it almost every time I pull out my baking sheets. Whether it’s for baked goods like cookies and scones or roasted vegetables, I almost always use parchment paper because it speeds up the cleaning. As long as there were no spills that got under the paper, I just rinse the baking sheet. I also buy parchment paper made from recycled paper so that if it gets too gross for recycling, I don’t feel too guilty about throwing it away. (Note: Non-stick foil is also a great option here as it can also be recycled.)
Burned-On Crud (Part 1)
If you’ve got food burned onto the bottom of a pot or pan, put a couple of drops of dish soap into the pot, add enough water to cover the burned-on food, and then bring the mixture to a boil on the stove and then turn off the heat. After that, the food will come right off!
Burned-On Crud (Part 2)
If you’ve got a cast iron skillet, use a salt scrub. (Cast iron shouldn’t be cleaned with dish soap.) Pour a good deal of coarse salt into the skillet, add a very small amount of water (enough to make a coarse paste), and rub with a sponge or scouring pad. You’ll be elated when you see the food fall away.
Let the Blender Wash Itself
Washing blenders used to be one of my least favorite tasks (hello, sharp blade at the bottom!) until I discovered this trick: fill the blender halfway with hot water, add a drop or two of dish soap, put the top on, flip the switch, and watch as the blender washes itself! Then all you have to do is rinse!
Use Cold Water to Rinse Dairy and Starchy Foods
Hot water makes them gummy and harder to get off.
Finally, Make it Fun!
Play fun music and dance while you clean, listen to a podcast, use a soap that smells nice and/or is kind to your hands so it feels like a spa treatment…you get the idea…
Do you have favorite tricks to make doing the dishes easier? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! Want to make getting dinner on the table simpler and more pleasant? Try out The Scramble with our two-week free trial!