Nightly Kitchen Cleaning Routine

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Having a nightly kitchen cleaning routine is a great way to “close” the kitchen at the end of the day. It’s also a great way to give yourself a good start the next morning.

Why You Should Tidy the Kitchen at Night

After a long workday plus an evening spent cooking dinner and then getting the kids to bed, it’s awfully tempting to simply turn off the kitchen light and crash on the sofa in front of Netflix. But bear with me: taking a few moments to do a nightly kitchen cleaning routine — and by that, I mean simply a few tidying tasks — is worth the effort.


Pretty much every household pest sees a messy kitchen as an all-you-can-eat buffet. If you’ve been battling cockroaches or ants, fruit flies or pantry moths, tidying your kitchen at night is essential. It helps you get rid of mice, too.


One of the first steps to dealing with kitchen odors is getting dirty dishes out of your sink. You need the basin clear before you can run the garbage disposal or take any of the other steps to clean stinky drains in your sink.

Your Morning

Regardless of whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, waking up to a messy, odorous kitchen is no way to start the day. A few minutes spent in the evening before you boot up Netflix is like giving your Tomorrow Self a little gift. I’m not saying you’ll suddenly wake in a joy-filled mood, ready to spring out of bed simply because your kitchen isn’t a mess. But you won’t find yourself grumbling and holding your nose as you shuffle to the coffee maker, either.

Nightly Kitchen Cleaning Routine

  1. Do the dishes: Whether you wash by hand or use the machine, get the dishes clean to avoid attracting bugs.
  2. Clean the sink: Scrub it with soap and water.
  3. Run the garbage disposal: Even if you don’t remember putting stuff down the disposer, it’s a good idea to run it for a good 30 seconds with the hot water tap going full blast to get rid of any crumbs and grime.
  4. Wipe the counters: Use a counter spray and a microfiber cloth to clean up any spills and crumbs. You don’t have to move things — just put away foodstuff and wipe around what’s left.
  5. Take out the trash: Don’t wait until the bag is full. Trash bags are cheap. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of so many half-empty bags, switch to biodegradable kitchen trash bags.
  6. Vacuum and/or spot mop spills: Like wiping the countertops, this isn’t about doing a thorough job — it’s about dealing with visible messes left after making or eating dinner. A quick vacuum in front of the sink and stove, plus under the table, takes only a couple of minutes.

Extra Kitchen Tasks

If you’re not following my daily cleaning routine you may want to do a few other tasks, such as:

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  1. Helen Playdon says:

    Good evening Katie,

    For homes without a garbage disposal, what do you suggest as a nightly routine for the drain? I don’t do it every night but often pour a kettle-ful of boiling water over the dishes in the drainer, it not only finishes the rinse but gets them to dry more quickly. Then I empty the washing-up bowl of soapy water and let that drain before scrubbing the sink. Is that enough or should I then pour boiling water down the drain too or just use some vinegar, which I always have on hand. I do always remember to microwave the dish sponge; in fact I do it just about every time I wash up during the day. My real question is which is more effective for keeping the drain clean: boiling water or vinegar, or shall I alternate the two? i don’t want to use any harsh chemicals on a regular basis but I did use a commercial drain cleaner once this past year, on a ‘just in case’ basis. I hope not to repeat that for several years. Obviously I am not deliberately putting food down the rain BUT I know that tiny pieces of chopped cabbage probably end up there when I am making cole slaw for example, or the odd grain of rice after washing up after a rice-based meal. I have not been aware of any odour but don’t want it to start because I have not done enough to kill any smells.
    Thank for reminding us of the little bits it is so easy to miss.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Helen!
      What you’re doing sounds perfect, although if you have PVC pipes (rather than copper), let the boiling water cool a bit before pouring. The big risk with garbage disposals is that people put food down them then don’t run the blades long enough, or they stop running the water too soon, so the food sits there rotting. But in your case, it sounds like you’re on top of things and I wouldn’t change a bit.