We’ve all been there. Dirty pots, pans and dishes are stacked up in the sink. Unopened mail is accumulating in a pile in the corner. The kitchen table is so full of clutter, there’s no where to sit down and eat (or do arts and crafts, pay bills or help the kids with homework).

So, how do you clean your kitchen when it’s a mess? In this post, I’ll walk you through the simple steps to move past overwhelm and make some progress towards a clean and functional kitchen.

A tale of a kitchen catch all

I don’t know about you, but my kitchen tends to be a catch all. When we come home from the playground, the library or from preschool, everything gets dumped on the kitchen counter. The kitchen table is a catch all for everything from bills to toys to craft projects.

Like you, I also have good intentions to take care of the stuff in just a minute, but life gets in the way. Diapers need to be changed, dog messes need to be cleaned up (for the fourth time that week…) and snacks need to be made (“Wight nooow-wah! I’m so hungwee!”).

There’s also the good stuff that gets “in the way” of the a spotless house. Who wants to clean the kitchen when there are books to read or games to play? After all, that’s why most of us became stay at home moms.

Either way, we find ourselves looking at the kitchen and surprised at how much of a mess it has become. Let me share some simple steps to follow to clean your kitchen in no time.

How to clean your kitchen when it’s a mess

Practice forgiveness

I put this one at the top because it’s that important. If this is the only tip you read, my job is done. So many of us expect perfection, but we forget one vital bit of information: it doesn’t exist.

You could spend your life criticizing yourself and fervently cleaning your kitchen, but there will always be more to do. Give yourself grace, especially if you’re in a particularly busy season of your life.

Determine what a functional kitchen looks like.

We’ve all seen the beautiful, swoon worthy kitchens on social media and TV. While these kitchens are wonderful to daydream about, don’t let them become the benchmark. Picture perfect kitchens usually come with a team of experts obsessing over the tiny details.

On the contrary, a functional kitchen is one that serves you and your lifestyle. That might mean there’s room for you to cook the meals you love or an area for organizing everyone’s schedule.

Start with the quick wins.

Get some bang for your buck by picking chores that take little time but make a huge difference. For me, that’s doing a quick sweep of trash laying on the counters and congregating all the dirty dishes to the area next to the sink. Doing these two chores takes about 5 minutes total, yet makes my kitchen look infinitely better.

Clean in spurts.

I’m a fan of cleaning as fast as I can for a short amount of time. It takes me 6 minutes to empty the dishwasher. It takes 15 to fill it up with dirty dishes. If I am avoiding cleaning the kitchen like the plague, I can at least force myself to do one of these quick chores to make some progress.

Set a timer.

It’s a lot easier to force yourself to clean for 10 minutes than start a to do list item that says “Clean the kitchen.” “Clean the kitchen” will always get pushed off until tomorrow. But even at the end of a long, exhausting day, I can make myself do 10 minutes or 5 minutes of cleaning (how else do you think I know how long it takes to empty the dishwasher?)

Time certain tasks.

I know it takes six minutes to empty the dishwasher and 30 minutes to fold a load of laundry and put it away. Why? Because these are chores that I would procrastinate until we have no clean forks or underwear left. One day I decided to time myself and was surprised at how quickly the task actually was.

Timing yourself also helps you schedule things. Let’s say you are ready to go but have about 15 minutes before you need to leave. Knowing how long it takes to do a chore helps you to squeeze them into the extra space in your schedule (rather than wasting the time checking social media or surfing aimlessly on the web).

You can do this, Mama!

If you’re like me, you have as much willpower as mud. It’s all about making the task so dang easy your logical mind wins over your emotional self.

Like the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” So often we get so overwhelmed by the long list of items to do that we spend more time worrying and obsessing than we do taking action.

Your journey to a clean kitchen starts with one tiny step. Decide what step to take and TAKE IT! 🙂

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