10 kitchen cleaning rules

The kitchen is the room where everyone congregates, and as a result, it's usually one of the messiest rooms in the house.

It's also the place where we gather at the end of each day (as often as we can, anyway) to break bread, wind down, and refuel. It's these activities especially that require an elevated level of home cleaning and organization.

Here are 10 family kitchen cleaning rules to bring sanity back to this busy hub of your home.

  Rule #1:   The Kitchen is a No-Dumping Zone

To keep kitchen surfaces clutter-free, don't allow the dropping off (dumping) of anything on kitchen surfaces, such as counters and the table, when you come in the door. This is not a dumping zone.

To prevent dumping here, create an organized coming home center where the day's items can be temporarily stashed and kept out of the way until needed.

 Rule #2: Remove Shoes at the Door

A no-shoes-inside rule can help simplify your cleaning routine - fast.
Having everyone remove shoes at the door goes a long way toward keeping cleaning to a minimum.

Because as we know, the first place everyone goes once inside the front door is the room where the snacks are: The kitchen, of course!

A shoe-cubby bench by the door is any easy way to encourage shoe-removal and stop dirt in its tracks.

  Rule #3:  Confine Eating to the Kitchen and Dining Room

In addition to being able to monitor what the kids eat, by confining eating to the kitchen and dining room, this simple rule goes a long way toward keeping the whole house cleaner, too.

  Rule #4  Always Tidy Up Behind Yourself

If you're old enough to grab your own snack or meal, you're old enough to do some kitchen cleaning, such as putting your dishes away and wiping down the prep area or cook top. (See chores for kids by age.)

  Rule #5  Put Dishes in the Dishwasher After Use

Always put dirty dishes into the dishwasher, not the sink. The dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Hand wash only the larger, bulkier items that won't fit, or shouldn't be put in (wooden items), the dishwasher.

The person who finds a full dishwasher should add dishwashing detergent and start the machine.

  Rule #6:  Wipe Down Kitchen Counters After Use

Crummy way to live, with food all over the counter tops. Although insects don't necessarily think this way. (Need I say more?) The wiping down kitchen counters after use rule goes a long way toward keeping the kitchen clean and hygienic.

 Rule #7:  Close Cabinet Doors After You've Opened Them

Kids - and some grown-ups - have a habit of leaving cabinet doors open after perusing the contents inside. Nip this one in the bud. Make it a rule that everyone is required to close cabinet doors they've opened. Ditto for drawers.

  Rule #8:  Kids Must Ask to be Excused from the Table

It's simply polite, and respectful to the chef du jour, to ask permission to be excused from the table instead of simply getting up and leaving.

  Rule #9:  Kids Should Also Ask Before Snacking or Having Dessert

If kids must receive permission before snacking or grabbing dessert, parents can keep tabs on family nutrition, and - be given ample time to ensure the kitchen cleaning rules are followed afterward.

  Rule #10:  Bus Your Own Plate

If you eat at, and can reach the counter, the kitchen cleaning rules require that you bus your own plate. It's only fair, after all, that everyone pitches in. (See 4 above.)

› 10 Family Kitchen Cleaning Rules