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7 Clever Ways to Make After-Dinner Cleanup Easier

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Kara
04.14.16

BrightNest poll! After dinner, would you rather:

A.)  Clean your entire kitchen from top to bottom.

B.)  Relax on the couch.

Okay, so we know that no one would ever choose the first option. After a delicious home-cooked meal, the last thing most people want to deal with is a mountain of dishes in the sink. Unfortunately, after-dinner cleanup is a necessary evil. But, you can make the chore less painful with a few strategic moves.

Here are seven tips to make after-dinner cleanup a breeze:

1. Empty the Dishwasher Before Dinner 

There are few things worse than sending your kids to put their dirty plates in the dishwasher, only to find that it’s full of clean dishes. Avoid this by checking to see if there’s a clean load to put away before you begin to cook. That way, as you dirty a dish, you can just fill the dishwasher as you go.

2. Minimize Cooking Tools 

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!

3. Clean as You Go 

This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s easy to forget when you’re whipping up dinner. As the onions are sautéing, or you’re waiting for water to boil, try to clear away the pots and pans you’ve already used.

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. Do the Pre-Soak Early

If there are dishes that could use a soak before they’re placed in the dishwasher, pile them in the sink with hot, soapy water before you sit down to dinner. By the time you’re ready to start cleaning, they should be much easier to scrub than if they sat out on your countertops.

6. Have Containers Ready for Leftovers 

Make leftover storage easy (and quick) for everyone by setting some plastic containers on the counter at the same time you grab plates to set the table. That way, when someone is finished eating, they can pack their own leftovers right away. Tip: If leftovers are an almost-nightly occurrence for your family, make sure everyone knows about leftover storage safety

7. Use Easy-to-Clean Tablecloths and Placemats 

Unless you’re hosting a party or want to impress your in-laws, there’s no need to use a fancy tablecloth for dinner. 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 cleanup duty will go!  

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