If I ain’t ever learned anything from my mama, I learned about the “clean as you go” philosophy. This was a policy she picked up learning how to cook from her mama. She learned to wash and clean the dishes as she used them. That only left the pots, pans, and what was used to eat at the end of the night.
This sounds fairly simple, but it’s a philosophy that I’ve had to nearly beat myself in the head to follow. Under mama’s watchful eyes, I always did it, but out from underneath her wings, my dorm room in college stayed a mess. It wasn’t until my very first sink of dirty dishes in my first apartment that I realized what she meant. As they always say, you don’t learn what your parents try to teach until after you’ve done it.
What is this “clean as you go” philosophy?
It’s a Zen-like plane of being. It almost has to be a robotic motion or a muscle memory. Oh, screw it. It’s just something that has become habit over time to clean up after yourself.
I apply it to everything in my house.
My bathroom gets wiped down after I get my shower. Now, don’t go imagining me in my skivvies bending over to wipe down the stall or the floor. That’s an image to give even the most hard up prisoner a nightmare.
These are activities that can literally be finished within 15 minutes or less. If you don’t believe me, go set a timer and try it yourself.
Here’s a quick example of my kitchen, which is a beautiful seven foot by twelve foot room. It has white cabinets and laminate countertops. I have one counter reserved completely for mixing and food preparation. The other counter is just for everything else.
With the food prep counter, I make my biscuits, put everything in the sink and then let hot water run in the bowl. I finish up seasoning everything and then put it on the stove to cook. While food is cooking, I clean up everything in the sink and leave it in the drainer to dry.
Once dinner is cooked, everything gets moved to the “random” counter in a buffet style meal. Everyone chows down. Kids throw their food on the floor in the dining room. Sippy cups go everywhere.
After the meal, I store the leftovers and set the pots to soak for 15 minutes.
Now this is the part you can time. You ready? Let’s go!
I get a soapy damp rag and start going to town. I wipe down the food prep counter and get down and dirty with any grease splatters on the stove. I use the same rag to rinse off the dishes to put them in the dishwasher. Get everything arranged.
I grab my special spray, a clean dry rag, and spray down all of the counters and the sink. I do quick swipes on everything, and then I grab the broom and dust pan. I sweep everything from the kitchen into the dining room. I gather up all the bits of food the kids threw everywhere. All goes to the garbage to die.
And all of this happens in fifteen minutes or less.
Have a gander next week of what cleaning activity goes best with what human emotion.