It’s hard to clean with a toddler, which is why speed cleaning in small but focused chunks can be a lifesaver. I don’t know about you, but in my house, if we don’t clean the kitchen every day, it seems to explode in chaos: books and toys all over floor, bills scattered on the table and random items ranging from hammers to dirty socks clutter the counters.

I have a (mostly) daily routine to speed clean my kitchen. But inevitably there are days that I miss and my kitchen ends up looking like this:

In this post, I’ll show you how to speed clean your kitchen. In total, this process took 30 minutes, broken into three 10-minute chunks.

First 10 minutes: Declutter

With your first ten minutes, your goal is to declutter the kitchen and return items to their spot (or room).

On the oven side of the kitchen, I put away my wallet, the new wet mop, library books, oatmeal, diaper wipes and a lunch box.

On the sink side of the kitchen, I put away extra mop cloth, plastic bag, dish towel, jacket, toys, snack cup and clean bundt pan.

If you have a spot for an item, put it there (i.e. my wallet goes on a shelf in the laundry room with my purse and the diaper bag). If you don’t have a specific spot, put it in it’s general area (library books went into the office and toys were placed on the table in the playroom). The goal is to get through decluttering as quickly as possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to get done.

During this process, my son came inside from the backyard and sweetly said “Come play, Mommy.” How could I say no? After 10 minutes of frantically running around my kitchen looked like this:

Not perfection (which we’ll never achieve anyways) but it looked a heck of a lot better than it did before I started.

Second 10 minutes: Get that dishwasher running!

After playing outside for a while, I came in to get dinner cooking in the crockpot and to do the next round of kitchen cleaning. The next thing I do is move all the dirty dishes to the counter next to the sink. This includes quickly running around the house to find scattered dirty dishes.

Fill the sink with warm, soapy water

If you’re anything like me, you have dishes with caked on food. Fill the sink with warm, soapy water. During the time it takes you to run around the house rounding up dirty dishes, most food will have softened and become easier to scrape.

Get the dishwasher running

If you have enough dirty dishes to run the dishwasher, this becomes your number one priority. This is a crucial step in moving you closer to a clean kitchen.

Load up that dishwasher and get it running!

During this time, my son brought trucks from the playroom out to show me. He drove them all over the dishwasher, on the floor and even around my legs. As soon as I got the dishwasher running (crucial), he took me to the playroom to show me how he lined up his trucks. 🙂

Last 10 minutes: Pots and pans

After 20 minutes total of cleaning my kitchen, it now looked like this:

Not bad, not bad. It would be easy to call it quits here (and certainly, on time-pressed days, I do). The last two steps are to hand-wash the pots and pans and to do a quick wipe of the counters (either with soap and water directly from the sink or with a spray mixture of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water).


In summary, here’s how to speed clean your kitchen in 30 minutes:

First goal: Declutter

  • Declutter the counters.
  • Put items in the general area where they belong (toys are thrown in the playroom, dirty laundry thrown in the laundry basket, etc.)

Second goal: Run the dishwasher.

  • Dirty dishes with crusted on food go in the sink to soak.
  • Move all dishes to the counter by the sink.
  • Do a lap around the house to find other dirty dishes.
  • If dishwasher’s clean, empty it.
  • Rinse and put dirty dishes into the dishwasher.
  • Run the dishwasher (if you have enough for a full load).

Third goal: Pots and pans

  • Hand wash pots and pans.
  • Use soapy water or a vinegar and water spray to wipe down the counters.

If you’re in the Really Messy Kitchen Club

You may be reading this and thinking there is no way your kitchen will ever be clean in only 30 minutes. First off, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to have a kitchen with dishes stacked high and not an inch of clean counter space. Don’t feel uninspired if it will take you more than 30 minutes to clean your kitchen. What I learned is that small steps made every day leads to massive progress. Make the time to clean a little bit every day and you will see an improvement.

Action step

Take three 10-minute chunks to work through the steps (declutter, dishwasher, pots and pans). Then report back to me. In the comments below, what worked? What didn’t? Were you able to achieve a clean kitchen in 30 minutes?

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