The kitchen cleaning debate


Most people who cook fall into one of two camps: those who clean as they go, making sure to wash each utensil and bowl as it’s used, and others who pile up the pots and pans next to the sink for one large cleanup effort. Each of these approaches has its merits and drawbacks, says Valerio Farris at indexed blog The Kitchn.

The biggest benefit of the first method is that after you are done eating, you aren’t faced with a mountain of dishes to tackle. However, as much as you might want to clean as you go, sometimes it’s not practical. June, the digital design director at The Kitchn, sums it up perfectly: “I am very strongly in the clean-as-you-cook camp in theory, but in reality, when I’m banging through my kitchen on a weeknight frantically trying to get dinner on the table quickly with a two-year-old, it often becomes clean after cooking.”

I don’t have a two-year-old to contend with, but try as I might to clean as I am cooking, I always seem to end up with a mess of dishes at the end of the process. I place the blame on my kitchen layout, and the fact that I never remember to empty the dishwasher before I begin cooking. 

Sometimes a dish is too complicated or requires too much attention to allow cleaning as you go. Too much time spent at the sink could lead to scorched vegetables or burnt meat. Quite often there is a flurry of activity toward the end of cooking that can make it problematic to be diverted to cleaning activity.  Still, the consensus of those interviewed by The Kitchn is that cleaning as you cook is the way to go. In which camp do you fall? 

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  • averythingcooks  on  January 25, 2018

    Well……. We clean as we go with all the prep dishes but once we sit and eat ( and in a no kids household this can be fairly late ) we often leave the final pots / pan / baking dish / whatever til morning . First one up (which is almost always me 🙂 deals with it.

  • BethNH  on  January 26, 2018

    Clean as you go is common sense. While the onions saute or the water boils it's easy to wash the cutting board and knife or put things in the dishwasher. At the end there are always the pots and pans still left to clean but there's no reason to leave everything until the end.
    In our house, whoever doesn't cook does the cleaning and it would be rude not to help out by cleaning as you go.

  • ellabee  on  January 26, 2018

    Very much in the clean-as-you-go camp. My mental motto in the kitchen is "always be ready to cook"; since there's not a lot of redundancy in the equipment, that means cleaning and re-storing whatever gets used as soon as possible. When faced with a pile of washing-up, it means starting with the pans and cooking utensils, leaving until last the dishes and silverware (which can be neatly stacked for later washing by the other member of the household). It's a lot easier to avoid the pile-up with two people and fluid meal times, but it's also a matter of developing the habit. My partner has started to cook and bake more, and it's becoming clear that clean-as-you-go is a New Trick that the Old Dog might not learn.

  • Rinshin  on  January 26, 2018

    I don't use a dishwasher unless we have people over for dinner. I like clean, organized kitchen and definitely belong to clean as you go camp. There are always some pots and pans that need to be washed right before eating and those are washed after we eat. Luckily, I cook and my spouse washes after we eat.

  • anightowl  on  January 26, 2018

    I wash knives, cutting boards, gadgets, sieves, small appliance parts, and measuring cups as I go. Mixing bowls, colanders, pots, pans pans are done after dinner.

    Over 30 years ago my husband and I made a deal that we still stick by – I cook, he washes up.

    I simply cannot cook around dirty dishes in the sink, so when we built our house 12 years ago we had two sinks designed in – one is the prep sink, the other is clean-up. It's a beautiful thing to have a cooking area with a sink that never, ever has a dirty dish sitting in it.

  • dantaro  on  January 26, 2018

    Clean as I go – to an extent. At the very least small things are cleaned in the sink, prep bowls etc in the dishwasher and ingredients put away. I’m not handwashig everything immediately, but it’s neat and tidy. No dirty items sitting around. Always starting with a clean kitchen and empty dishwasher before cooking.

  • Larkspur  on  January 27, 2018

    I put things like cutting boards and mixing bowls in the dishwasher as I’m done with them but could never understand how people could wash the pots and pans dinner was cooked in before dinner. I do the hand washing of pots and pans after dinner.

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