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Life Hacks To Keeping A Clean Kitchen

These habits put cleaning and organizing on autopilot — even when dinner is late

If you've ever visited a friend's home unannounced only to discover their kitchen is squeaky clean (without any warning?!), you might wonder how they do it. Well, apparently the secret to a clean kitchen is daily upkeep. These are a few of the habits people with spotless kitchens do every day:

1. They use a "one in, one out" rule when stocking the fridge. 

"Every time I come home with groceries I wipe the shelves down and remove anything that doesn't look fresh," says Monica Friel, owner and professional organizer at Chaos to Order. By removing food that's no longer edible before adding new items, Friel keeps her fridge from becoming overcrowded and cuts down on clutter and food waste.

2. They combine each meal with a chore. 

And that doesn't mean just cleaning your plate after you eat. "Every morning I use the stove to make eggs. After eating, I remove the metal stove tops and wipe the surface with an organic cleaner," says Anne Marie Herring, a freelance yoga teacher. Whether she knows it or not, Herring is using a classic "cue" technique for habit-forming: Making a meal acts as the trigger to get her to clean a little — overtime, it would feel weird if she didn't do follow through with it.

3. They keep wipes where they can see them.

Disenfecting wipes help Stephanie Olsen stay on top of spot cleaning in her kitchen — everything from the messy area around the cat dishes to a spill on the floor. "I usually do double-duty too: If the wipe isn't gross after cleaning a spill, I'll fold it over and wipe off the top of the coffee maker, stove hood, or dishwasher door," she says.

4. They store foods that must be eaten toward the front of the fridge.

Louise Miclat prevents food from spoiling by staying on top of what she has in her refrigerator: "I put all foods that are close to their 'enjoy by' date in the front of the fridge," she says. This way they're top of mind when she opens the door looking for something to eat – and expired food clutter doesn't even have a chance to form.

5. They set a timer.

On your mark, get set ... and don't stop cleaning until you hear the ding if you want to follow the advice of freelance writer, Brianna Belle: "I set a timer and clean for 15 minutes every morning after breakfast and every night after dinner."

6. They use labeled bins, so things never sit idly.

Storage containers aren't just for your office or closet anymore. "On a daily basis I make sure that books and papers go into bins assigned to each child and I have a catch-all tub for miscellaneous items," Daphne Mallory says. "It takes five minutes and really tames the paper and clutter in the kitchen."

7. They empty the dishwasher as soon as it's done.

"Nothing causes a back up of dirty dishes piling up in your sink faster than a dishwasher full of clean dishes that you still need to put away," says Household Management 101 blogger Taylor. She likes to multitask and empty it while she's waiting for other things to finish in the kitchen, like boiling water or food that's heating up in the microwave.

8. They make wiping down countertops the one rule they always follow.

If you think about what touches your kitchen counters (mail, money, dirty laundry) you'll want to clean them constantly, according to Susan Metropolitan. "You have to acknowledge how dirty and unsanitary your counters are," she warns. "I wipe mine down before cooking and after eating so nothing builds up and permanently sticks to my countertops." Plus, you can't wipe down a countertop that's cluttered. So if wiping them down is the one habit you adopt (baby steps, people), it will also force you to keep them clear.

9. They use the eyeball technique when cooking.

To reduce mess and dishes, Katie Hill has mastered what she calls hodge-podge cooking: "I generally gauge ingredient measurements in my hand instead of pulling out all of the measuring cups and spoons." But a word of warning: You should skip this technique when baking, which requires more precise measurements.

10. They start fresh with a clean dish towel.

Don't just use that rag from yesterday. "Clean cloths make for clean working spaces," according to Jo-Anna from A Pretty Life in the Suburbs, who pulls out a new towel every morning to clean up spills, dry dishes, and set the tone for the day.

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