The Fine Art of Cleaning as You Go!

“Clean as you go.” It’s something you can hear your mom saying. But what does it actually mean? And why should I care? 

The answers are easy. Clean as you go means exactly what it says: clean as you complete steps in your cooking process. Why should you do it? If you’re a home chef, your kitchen is less than 1000 square feet, you loathe cleaning and you don’t own duplicates of every pot and utensil — you know the answer. 

What is Clean As You Go

Clean as you go helps you minimize mess and, more importantly, keeps work surfaces, chopping boards, and cooking tools sanitary. This is important because cross contamination of surfaces is the biggest cause of stomach upset.

Why Clean As You Go

If, “because your mom said to,” is not a good enough answer for you, read on. Cleaning as you go is cleaning throughout the cooking experience. Making cleaning a central part of your routine keeps surfaces, kitchen tools, and the premises clear, sanitary, and mess-free. 

It gets rid of clutter on countertops and ensures you have the bowls and spoons you need when you need them. Of course the real benefit of keeping your kitchen sparkling clean is that it greatly reduces the risk of cross-contaminating your food and accordingly lowers the risk of foodborne illness. 

If you ask your mom or grandma, they will probably tell you it’s just how things should be done. This is especially true in small kitchens where counter space is hard to come by. And since kitchens of years past were smaller, it’s probably why your mom said so!

How to Clean As You Go

Cleaning as you go is as easy as it sounds. That said, like anything, you’ll accomplish more with a plan.

  1. Start with a clean kitchen. Wash and put away any remaining dishes from meals past so you start with a clean slate, and counter, and sink. 
  2. Review your recipe and pull out the bowls and utensils you need as you pull the ingredients. Follow the instructions but take the extra step of moving dirty dishes to the sink as you use them, then wash them before moving on to steps 2, 3, etc.
  3. After you wash and dry the dishes, put them away and wipe down counters and other surfaces before starting the next step. Be sure to throw away any trash as you make it so it doesn’t build up.

The real secret to cleaning as you go is having the discipline to follow through. When you first start, it will be too easy to slip into messy habits. But it will get easier, as long as you are consistent. Soon you’ll find yourself mindlessly cleaning between steps and enjoying the fruits of a shiny kitchen. 

More Clean as You Go Tips

Want more? We’re so extra that we’ve got more clean as you go tips!

  • Inventory your refrigerator and ditch expired or old foods before you start.
  • In addition to washing fruits and vegetables, be sure to wash the cutting board and knives between cutting fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood.
  • Cover your fry pan with a splatter-proof screen to help control grease splatter and keep the stovetop cleaner.
  • Keep a scrap bowl on the counter to save you from having to open and close the trash while you cook.
  • Keep extra dish towels and paper towels within reach.
  • Pick items up from the floor as soon as they drop to save on cleanup later.
  • Empty the dishwasher before you start any cooking project.
  • Cook slowly if you want to cook neatly.

Happy cleaning! Have a tip to share? Drop us a note below.