For professional chefs, the kitchen is the kingdom, which means it’s absolutely necessary to keep things spotless. After all, those shiny blue “A” ratings in the window don’t come so easily. With years of cooking for crowds under their belts, most pros have some tips and tricks up their sleeves to keep the kitchen really, really clean.
But regardless of where you are on the “amateur chef” spectrum, however—whether you’re heating up frozen Trader Joe’s meals or straight up making your own vegan cheese, that is—there’s no reason why your own kitchen kingdom can’t live up to the same spic-and-span standards. Here, chefs share their tips on how to keep your kitchen restaurant level clean— even when you don’t have a cleaning staff around to pickup after your sauce splatters.
Keep scrolling to find out how to keep your kitchen clean
Forget the prep bowls
Though you may like to think of yourself as a regular Ina Garten, chances are, you have fewer people to help with the post-meal cleanup than she does. “Cooking on TV is not cooking at home,” says James McDuffee, Chief Controlling Officer of Happy Cooking Hospitality, who works with New York City’s Joseph Leonard, and Fairfax. “Don’t try to line up all of your ingredients into 10 neat little glass bowls (that you’ll have to clean later) for a one pot meal, when you could just measure everything out directly into the pot.”
The best cleaning strategy? Do it as you go
Consider this the chef’s edict (and also the best way to avoid being stuck with a surprise mess when you’re finished cooking). “Always make sure to clean as you go: Don’t let things keep piling up in the sink to deal with at the end of the meal,” says McDuffee. “That spill, while it may set you back a minute while you are cooking, will take a lot more work if you have to scrape it up as a congealed, sticky mess if you wait until the end of the meal.”
Divide your sink
Nothing says “messy kitchen” quite like a pile of dishes in the sink. The problem is: Once the stack starts to form, it can be difficult to figure out were to begin cleaning it up—especially if you’re working with limited space. “We have a three-compartment sink,” says Elizabeth Colling, owner of Santa Barbara’s Merci to Go. “We use one area to clean the plates off, another area to soap the dishes, and a third section to rinse so that all of the food particles stay in one area. It’s kind of like a car wash.” Obviously, having an industrial-sized sink in an teensy apartment kitchen isn’t the *most* realistic idea, but you can separate your sink into “scraping” and “washing” sections by using a portable partition like one of these.
Take the trash out every day
Letting garbage—especially food—sit for long periods of time can breed bacteria and odor, and it’s honestly just gross. Folks in the restaurant biz take out the trash at least once a day (usually at night). Even if you don’t have a full staff or cleaning crew, this is a rule that’s worth at least trying to follow at home to minimize on potential odors.
Keep your fridge organized
Cleaning can get you pretty far, but kitchen organization is king, and it all starts in the fridge. ” I love to use a P-Touch labeler, which so helpful,” says Colling. “Everything is labeled with a date on, when it was made. Not only does that help if there’s a couple batches of something and you’re grabbing it, you know what you grab first.” McDuffee also swears by this rack for storing wine, which basically doubles your shelf space.