Posts Tagged ‘clean’

Ah, washing dishes. The never-ending kitchen nightmare—you finally finish one load and another is already waiting in line. The piles are stacked high, food dries on, and you just don’t have enough time to get caught up! Even a dishwasher doesn’t do it all for you—you still have to rinse, dry, load, and unload. So what’s a person to do? Switch to all paper dishes? Um, no. Let the dog lick the dishes clean each night? Um, most definitely no.


Unfortunately there really is no escaping from doing the dishes, but there are practices you can adopt to better organize the way you approach this task. I’m going to outline eight things you can start doing right now that will save you time in the kitchen when it comes to washing dishes. And what’s more, hopefully you’ll be able to look upon your piles of plates with a little less disdain the next time you have to wash.

1. Clean as you cook

If you only adopt one of the eight practices I’m going to talk about today, then pick THIS ONE. I can’t stress enough how much time you will save if you clean as you cook. Let me explain. As you are preparing a meal, there will undoubtedly be moments when you are waiting for something to finish simmering or sautéing, or perhaps you might even find yourself with a large chunk of time as your casserole or lasagna is baking in the oven. Use this time to your advantage!

Any moment you aren’t doing something to prepare the meal, head on over to the sink and wash some dishes. Maybe you’ll only have time to wash one item, but if you do it during every spare moment, you’ll have everything washed by the time you’re finished cooking. Then all that remains for after-dinner washing will be the dishes you actually used to eat with. Resist the urge to just wait and thus create a large messy pile of dishes to do at the very end of the meal. Chip away at it little by little and not only will you save time, but you won’t have to tackle a huge project at the end of the night when all you want to do is sit on the couch and relax.

2. Serve food in the dish you cooked it in

I can think of two reasons why you would want to use separate serving dishes when it actually comes time to eat the meal. First, you might be having a special dinner party where nice serving dishes are a must. Second, you may be hosting a large family reunion meal where passing food around the table in serving bowls is more efficient. Fine, use the extra dishes in these situations.

But for normal daily meals, is it really necessary to scoop the food out of the dish you cooked it in to put it in a second dish that you will use to serve it in? Don’t bother doubling your work by using separate dishes to serve food when it really doesn’t matter. It’s much simpler to just keep the beans in the sauce pan or the pasta in the pot. Put a hot pad on the table or keep all the food on the stove and use a buffet style of serving. Either way, you’ll be saving yourself time by not having to wash unnecessary dishes.

3. Organize your dishes & space

After the meal, prepare for washing by quickly organizing all the dishes and clearing the space you need to get the job done. Stack plates, separate utensils from everything else, etc. to better streamline your washing process. The easier it is to grab, the faster you’ll be able to wash it.

4. Soak dishes

In certain cases (see the next point) soaking can be a real time saver. If you just emptied a glass baking dish of crusty breaded chicken and are now going to attempt to wash it, consider whether soaking it now and leaving it for later might actually save you time. You aren’t procrastinating, you’re just using your time more efficiently. Why? It might take you 10 minutes now to scrape all that crusty stuck-on food off the dish, but if you soak it for a few hours in nice hot, soapy water first, it might only take you one minute to finish the job later.

5. Don’t soak dishes

While there is a time to soak dishes (see above), there’s also a time NOT to soak dishes. Soaking can be a real temptation—why wash now what you can wash later, right? When soaking isn’t necessary to remove stuck-on food, then just wash those dishes right away! You don’t want to have to come back to your kitchen later in the day forgetting how you procrastinated earlier and be disappointed that you have a bunch of dishes to wash.

6. Wash as a team

When my family does dishes while we’re having a reunion at my parent’s lake home, we always wash as a team to make it go faster. Why stick one person on the job when using two or three will get the task done in half the time? We have one person wash, one person dry, and one person put the dishes away. At home, this is a great task for kids.

7. Load the dishwasher efficiently

If you have a dishwasher, then there’s something to be said about loading it efficiently. dishwasherDon’t overload (because then some dishes will not get properly clean), but be careful not to waste space. Running a load uses water, energy, and time so it’s important to make the most of it all.

8. Air dry dishes

To save not only time but also money, consider just letting your dishes air dry. Whether you use a dishwasher or you hand-wash dishes, allowing them to dry on their own can save you time because you will avoid meticulously drying each dish separately with a towel. For dishwasher users, simply turn off your unit’s official energy-using ‘drying’ cycle and just open the door—after the dishes have had time to air dry, you can put them away without spending any unnecessary time (or money).

Reader Reflection

Have you found any creative time-saving solutions when it comes to washing dishes? Please share!


Read Full Post »

I am feeling excited this morning because some good friends of ours are staying with us for the weekend. I always enjoy visitors, but having guests over requires a lot of preparation. This has got me thinking about how I usually prepare my house for guests. So today I’d like to share some tips with you in the form of a handy checklist to help you organize a bit before your guests arrive, because you know with the holiday season rapidly approaching, you are bound to have visitors eventually!

Let’s start in the bedroom

No matter where you will have your guests sleep, whether it’s in an actual guestroom, in one of your kid’s bedrooms, or on an air mattress or couch in the living room, you will need to prepare the space to meet their needs. Here are a few things to consider:

  • If you can’t provide a bed or bedding, don’t forget to let your guests know their options for sleeping arrangements and whether or not they have to bring their own sheets, blankets, and pillows.

  • If you have a bed for them, be sure that the sheets are clean and that there are sufficient blankets depending on the current season.
  • If you have special decorative quilts or pillows on the guest bed, it’s a nice practice to fold down the bed before it’s time to sleep so that your guests aren’t confused about which pillows or blankets they are supposed to use and which are just for decoration.
  • Consider the space in the room where they will be staying and be sure there is enough of an area for them to store their belongings. You want guests to feel comfortable and not at all like they are being stuffed into a cluttered room where there’s absolutely no place to set their suitcase.
  • Keep in mind that some people do not like to sleep with any kind of lights or noises. Do you keep any clocks in the guestroom that tick loudly? Are there any electronic devices that give off bright lights? Offer to remove these items if they will be a distraction.
  • Get creative and think about little accents you can add to the guest room to make it more accommodating. For example you could set out some reading material or even something as simple as a box of tissues.

Next let’s move on to the bathroom

Maybe your house only has one bathroom, or maybe your guests will be using a bathroom different from the one everyone else usually uses. Either way, you should make sure it’s stocked and ready with everything that your guests might need.

  • Be sure to have clean towels and wash cloths available. It’s also nice to lay a set out for each person so they don’t have to search around.
  • Speaking of towels, make sure there is an obvious (and clean) hand towel in the bathroom. If you have decorative towels that are separate from your hand towel, make sure the distinction is clear.
  • Check to make sure that the shower/tub is stocked with shampoo, conditioner, and soap.
  • Be sure your liquid hand soap isn’t empty, or if you use bar soap, that there will be enough to last the length of your guests’ stay.
  • Keep an extra roll of toilet paper in a visible location so your guests will not have to go searching through your cupboards to find one when it is most inconvenient. If you don’t like the sight of random rolls of toilet paper lying around, then consider storing them in a decorative basket
  • Empty your waste basket so there is no chance it will get too full while your guests will be using it.
  • Clean everything! Be sure to clean the toilet, sink, shower/tub, and floor. There’s nothing worse than a dirty bathroom.

Let’s head into the kitchen

We’ve taken care of the bedroom and bathroom, so that leaves us with one more area, the kitchen. This space isn’t as important as the other two, but there are still some things to consider in your preparations.

  • Give your guests a quick tour of where things are that they might need, like breakfast foods, beverages, ice, or snacks.
  • Be clear about your policies regarding what they can just take and what they should ask for. If you want your guests to understand the concept of “what’s mine is yours”, then tell them. Some people might be timid to just take without asking.
  • Find out about your guests’ special dietary needs or allergies. Do you they like something (e.g. coffee) that you don’t normally provide for yourself? Either be sure you have what they need or have them bring their own.
  • Save yourself some stress and plan ahead for meals. Do your grocery shopping ahead of time and get detailed with your menus.

Anything else?

Besides the obvious cleaning and straightening of the rest of your house, there will always be more things you can do to better prepare for guests depending on your unique situation. Here are just a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • Are your guests coming from a different climate? Be sure they know what’s best to wear in your weather.
  • Along the same lines, consider accommodating your guests’ temperature needs. Will they be hot if you do not run your air conditioner? Will they be cold if you keep your thermostat too low?
  • Are your guests bringing children or perhaps a baby? Do you have children of your own? There are always things to consider when adding little ones to the mix. If you don’t have kids, consider ways you can child-proof your house if necessary.
  • Will your guests bring their pet(s)? Do you have a pet? Consider allergies and the fact that some people are uncomfortable around animals. Also consider whether your house is animal-proof.

  • Do you know your guests’ sleeping schedule? Do they go to bed early or do they like to stay up late? When do they usually rise in the morning?
  • Do you go to church? Will your guests come along with you or will they stay at home?

I could go on forever here, but I think this is plenty to think about for now. There are lots of details to consider and you will just have to examine your own lifestyle to see if you have any more items to add to your checklist.

Um, aren’t some of these things a little obvious?

Have you been visited by the same people for years now? Of course you know what you need to do to prepare for them. This checklist is more meant for the uncommon or new guest, but it is certainly also a great tool to use on those days when you are running out of time and the doorbell is about to ring. Lists always help you to get your brain in order and can prevent you from forgetting something important.

Reader Reflection

Do you do anything special to prepare for guests? I’d love to hear some creative ideas!

Read Full Post »