the accidental habit of cleaning

It seemed that every new year, every month, every Sunday night I would vow to keep my kitchen clean.  I wanted to wake up to bare counters, not start my day staring at yesterday’s crumbs and dirty dishes. It never stuck.

Until it did.

I wasn’t actively trying to make Super Clean Kitchen a habit, but I noticed a few weeks ago that my kitchen was always clutter and crumb free when I woke up. Since my husband often works until midnight, barely glancing at the kitchen before he pours himself in bed, and since I am fairly certain there are not magic cleaning fairies that visit my house nightly, the change must have come from me.

Why was I suddenly washing those dishes right after supper and carefully putting away the pots and pans before I went to bed? The change was a result of two things – 1) drastically reducing the amount of stuff in our cupboards, and 2) storing nothing on the counters.

We have slowly reduced the number of plates, bowls, and cups that we own and while we’re not quite down to one set per person, we definitely don’t have two sets each so something has to get washed before the next meal. If we only own six plates and four bowls and four cups, the dirty dish pile can never be so deep that it feels daunting. I will never miss the days when we owned so much that even an overloaded dishwasher wasn’t enough to clear the counter.

My second secret is just a continuation towards having less – completely clear flat surfaces. As more and more space opened up in concealed storage I realized I didn’t need to keep a utensil holder on the counter when there was a half empty drawer right next to the stove. The butter doesn’t need to sit out when there is a perfect spot next to the glasses. I don’t need a spoon rest on the stove that’s primary purpose is decoration.

Now when I glance in the kitchen and see something on the counter, I know it is out of place. And given that everything has a place in a drawer or a cupboard it’s quite easy to return the offender to its home.

I waited a bit before making a proclamation. I wanted to see if this was a short lived trend or a long term habit. It’s been four weeks and the counters are still clean when I wake up. In this house it seems the joy of tidying flows nicely into the joy of cleaning.

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3 thoughts on “the accidental habit of cleaning

  1. That sounds like heaven. I have never been able to get the clean kitchen to stick. Empty counters are definitely a big step. Do you have things like a blender or mixer or toaster? We have these and they take up so much room in our tiny kitchen that it always feels cluttered, even though I have discarded loads of kitchen stuff we don’t need over the last few years.

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    1. Hey! Right now we have a crockpot, toaster, and an electric kettle. Our blender died and we’re taking our time finding a good sale to replace it, but there is space for it in the cupboard. As we reduced things, I realized I could take a shelf out of a lower cupboard and it now houses all of our appliances. I had a hand mixer, but didn’t replace it when it broke and so far I don’t miss it. I cook and bake a fair bit, but now I mix, knead, or whip by hand.

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