As a home organizer, I’ve seen some pretty extreme messes. Bedrooms with years of messes piled to the ceilings, litter boxes unemptied for months, and even bathrooms that have never been cleaned in more than a decade.
One of the main areas that people tend to neglect when they struggle with depression, anxiety, or deep psychological issues like agoraphobia, is the kitchen.
It’s easy to live off microwave meals, use paper plates, and avoid opening the fridge for more than a couple of seconds while you reach for the milk. And that means: it’s a highly ignored and sometimes feared space.
As I’ve worked with my clients, I’ve heard hundreds of apologies for not doing what they should have, but I’ve also heard questions about why it’s so important to live in a clean space.
Today, we’re taking a look at the kitchen in particular and a number of benefits anyone would receive from keeping a clean kitchen.
Reasons to Keep a Clean Kitchen
There are tons of reasons you should keep your kitchen clean. I’ve compiled together just a few of the main ones. If anyone’s got any questions about the benefits of a clean kitchen, this list should pretty much knock out any questions.
Keeping Away Pests
One of the biggest problems I’ve come across as I’ve cleaned up people's homes is vermin and pest control. When kitchens are left dirty, disorganized, and ignored, insects get in and infect the room with their eggs, the bacteria, and other nasty stuff they carry with them.
Mice, rats, and other rodents often infiltrate kitchens, as well, and dig through cabinets and cupboards full of dry goods, looking for an easy meal.
Rodents and insects can carry tons of illnesses, diseases, and filth with them, which means your immune system becomes compromised and you can easily become very, very ill.
Once I’ve gotten clients’ kitchens cleaned, I witnessed the vast and instant stress relief from my clients. They no longer live with the burden of having a dirty, unkempt, and unsafe kitchen lurking just a few feet from their bedrooms.
Having a clean home means having a healthy, lower-stress home.
Easier to Use
A dirty, disorganized kitchen is extremely difficult to use. Dirty pots, pans, plates, and stacks of items can cause you to have no work surface, cause accidents, and almost always leads to frustration and impatience. A clean kitchen is much easier to use because nothing is in your way.
Maintenance of Appliances, Floors, Cabinets, and Countertops
Keeping your kitchen clean means keeping your appliances clean. When you make a smoothie, and some of that fruity goodness spills over onto the blender, you need to clean it immediately. The reason is that when appliances go uncleaned, they can become corroded or otherwise damaged. And that means you have to replace them much more quickly than you would otherwise.
You also need to keep your floors, cabinets, and countertops clean to prevent erosion, water damage, or other issues that can be caused by spills. Residue and build-up often result in needing to replace countertops, cabinets, and flooring.
Save on Food Expenses
One of the other common issues I’ve found with clients who don’t keep their kitchens clean is an overspending on food on a regular basis.
These clients don’t go into their cabinets, so they don’t know that they’ve already got three cans of tomato soup. Or, their refrigerators are so packed with old, inedible food that they don’t go to the fridge often for fresh food, perpetuating the cycle of more and more food piling up.
When we keep our kitchen clean, we know the food we have available to us, and can cook fresh, healthy meals, and that means our food doesn’t spoil.
Entertain More Comfortably
When you keep a clean kitchen, entertaining family and friends isn’t as likely to cause issues. People naturally tend to gravitate towards the kitchen, where food is prepared, and if your kitchen is dirty or disorganized, you might feel embarrassed about having people over and avoid entertaining altogether.
I’ve had clients who haven’t entertained in their homes for up to 20 years because their kitchens were dirty and unwelcoming. Once the kitchens were cleaned, the rest of the house followed, and those same clients began enjoying having company over on the regular.
When your kitchen is dirty, not only may you waste food and attract bugs, but the foods you have in their can spoil. Piled up dishes and other messes can invite and spread bacteria and germs that lead to a variety of illnesses and ailments.
Be sure to not only clean off countertops, and wash dishes, but keep the refrigerator clean, and use sanitizer on everything to kill off germs that may be lurking in dark corners.
After you’ve had a party or evening of drinks with pals, it’s tempting to leave the messes for the next day. But, unfortunately, there are safety concerns when spills are left, or grease is unattended in that pot on the stove. Grease fires can start, and slip and falls can happen.
The kitchen is, by nature, a dangerous place even when well kept. After all, there are knives, fire, and electricity all concentrated in one place. This gives all the more reason to keep a clean kitchen.
Prevent Foodborne Illnesses
Probably one of the biggest concerns of all with an unkempt kitchen is the possibility of foodborne illnesses from spoiling foods or cross-contamination from raw meat and poultry.
Always be sure to wash your hands both before and after handling produce, meat, poultry, or any other raw food materials.
Wash cutting boards in hot, soapy water every time you use them, and discard any that have deep gouges in them, whether they are plastic or wood.
Always clean all kitchen gadgets after they’ve been used, whether they’re meat thermometers, measuring cups, or can openers.
Always toss spoiled food the second you discover it has gone bad. Don’t just toss it into a trash can and leave that for later, but, rather, take out the trash immediately to avoid the rot from remaining in the house.
Never trust food or beverages that seem a little off. Just pitch them.
Tips for Keeping a Clean Kitchen
To help you keep that kitchen clean, I’ve come up with a list of some of the best cleaning tips and techniques.
2. To repel stains, twice a year apply grout sealer to tile and stone sealer to stone countertops. Packages of these items can be purchased at hardware stores. Just follow the directions.
3. Switch to plastic cutting boards over wood. Plastic cutting boards can be sanitized in dishwashers, while wood ones cannot.
4. For super quick clean up on long-days, lay down parchment paper or wax paper beneath your work surfaces when preparing food. The juices from veggies, fish, and meat will collect on the paper and won’t make it to countertops. Just scoop everything up together, toss into a trash can and take out the trash.
5. You probably know this one, but in case you don’t, baking soda in refrigerators and freezers can absorb odors. Replace the box every three months.
You can also use coffee beans in a bowl, cotton balls soaked in vanilla extract, or mounds of charcoal, and place any of these in freezers and fridges to eliminate those nasty odors.
6. Dump out old ice cubes at least once a month and make a new batch. Old ice cubes trap odors from the food freezing beside them.
7. For garbage disposals, grind up some citrus peels along with a handful of ice cubes. The ice sharpens the blades while the citrus cleans out the air and smells.
If you really need to kill odors in there, make some vinegar cubes in the freezer instead of ice cubes and use those with the citrus peels. Just be sure to label them so that no one gets an unpleasant surprise in their soda.
8. Be sure to always wipe burner drip pans off as soon as they’re cool. This will help prevent caked on messes that stain or are difficult to clean up later. Be sure to clean off the rest of the stove every time you cook as well, including where the spoon rests should sit.
A Happy Kitchen, A Happy Home
When you keep a clean kitchen, you keep a happy home. Cleanliness isn’t literally the most important thing in the universe, but it is one of the most important things for a healthy, happy home. Years of unhappy clients leaving their homes a mess have taught me that while cleanliness isn’t necessarily next to godliness, cleanliness is next to happiness.