3 stupidly-simple kitchen lifesavers for lazy assholes

February 11 2014 | Guest post by Amy Stewart
Mmm… hot, soapy water (Photo by: Richard TaylorCC BY 2.0)
On a scale of one to ten, my love of cleaning is probably something around the seventh layer of hell. I enjoy it just about as much as I think I would enjoy getting my tubes tied without any anesthetic.

But alas, while the rest of the family helps clean (we ain't in the fifties, you know), I am still left to do some of those things that may go unnoticed by the others in the house.

Since the cleaning-type stuff absolutely needs to get done, and my level 67 Blood Elf Paladin won't wait for me in Orgrimmar forever, I have discovered a few stupidly-simple kitchen lifesavers that make being an adult just a little bit easier to stomach.

1. Fill your dish pan with hot, soapy water

Then say the phrase "hot, soapy water" a few more times, because that phrase is just amazing. Before any dishes get done, use that hot, soapy water to give your countertops, stove and microwave a quick wipe down. It takes all of five minutes, and if done every time you go to wash dishes, could definitely prevent that type of frantic scrubbing that gives off so much elbow grease you could slick back the Fonz's hair with it. With half of your kitchen clean, you can now get started on the dishes.

2. Fill a cup with some hot water and set in on the side of your sink

When you wash a piece of silverware, put it inside the cup. When all the silverware is done, run some more hot water into the cup, and you've got all your silverware washed and rinsed without the hassle.

3. Buy a juicer

I know, you might be saying "Seriously? Do you have any idea how long juicing takes? Do you have any idea how expensive that crap is?" Bear with me for a minute. Cleaning the moldy, brown, leaky fruits and veggies out of the bottom of the crisper drawer is probably one of the most disgusting cleaning tasks I have ever had to endure. It unfortunately happens quite often in my house.

If you invest in a juicer, however, you can use it to juice those fruits and veggies that are nearing their death. You can drink the juice or add it to some smoothies. And if the veggie isn't too far gone, you can add the pulp to dog food, soups, salads, and the like. You can also take all that pulp and throw it in a compost bin, or sprinkle it on your flowers. And while you're rooting about in your fridge for old produce, it would be a good time to check for anything else that may be expiring soon. If you are checking frequently, you likely won't end up wasting any food that you have, or having to clean up any moldy, stinky mess either.

Since we all have to be adults, we may as well do it as quickly as possible, right?

What are your stupidly-simple kitchen lifesavers?

  1. Though I always thought of myself as more of a "slow-assed, procrastinating f*cker", I still feel like this applies to me. I need a juicer…

    23 agree
  2. Alternatively, if juicing isn't your cup of tea (ha, beverage joke!), making "refrigerator soup" is a great way to go through random ends of stuff. Vegetables of almost any description, meat (raw or cooked), beans, heck, even pasta, rice, or whatever — throw it in the soup pot with some water or stock, cook it for a while, and season to taste. Hint: if you're making an entirely vegetarian soup, add some oil, butter, or something — many flavours are fat-soluble, so you won't taste them at all without some sort of fat.

    27 agree
    • I actually apply the "refrigerator soup" concept to a lot of my cooking. Instead of looking at it as "I need to have X vegetables/meat/whatever to make Y dish," I consider what I have and if it would be okay in what I'm making. Fortunately, I usually don't have anything super-bizarre, so it works, and most of the time, we don't have stuff going bad in our fridge because we use up what we have before getting lots of additional produce. I also add a little bit of different frozen veggies if I need to supplement–just use a chip clip or a binder clip or something to hold the bag shut if you don't use a whole bag of frozen stuff at a time.

      As for cleaning, while it isn't fun, I've found it's way easier just to clean up as you go. Wipe up a spill as soon as you make it, wash a dish a soon as you're done using it (or put it into the dishwasher). It's also a lot less overwhelming as you might only have a couple of things to do at a time (albeit more frequently), rather than a huge mess and a sink full of dishes (which, I find, are harder to clean, then, because there's little room to maneouvre without shooting oneself with water).

      14 agree
    • oh! this is why when I was a vegetarian my soups tasted like nothing while they smelled amazing!
      Years of mystery lifted!

      21 agree
    • Maybe my "50% less sodium" boxes of soup need some fat added to it, too. I added some salt, but it still tasted damn near flavorless. Like, when the only "taste" you can call the roasted red pepper tomato soup is "warm," there's something wrong.

      1 agrees
  3. Actually a really easy way to clean the microwave is to put a bowl full of half vinegar and half water. Nuke it for 3 minutes and let it sit in the microwave for a minute afterwards. Then open the microwave, remove the bowl and wipe down the sides. The steam from the vinegar/water mixture makes it easy to wipe off the grime. Plus, you can use the vinegar/water mixture for sanitizing various items (I usually use it for my nebulizer, juicer parts would work too).

    18 agree
    • You don't even need the vinegar. I have been cleaning microwaves this way for years. It's worth keeping an eye on the microwave because different microwaves have different strengths and it also depends on how big the container of water is. Starting at three minutes is a good idea and if the water hasn't boiled yet, keep adding time until it does.

      If there are crusted-on bits on the bottom plate, I make sure the container is filled nearly to the top. When it boils in the microwave, it'll soak those gross bits and you can wipe them right out.

      12 agree
  4. My lazy tips are more along the lines of preferences for certain types of chores or behaviors over others. I will put in more work on the regular if it saves me a really undesirable task later, but that's me.

    Put stinky trash directly in the outside trash can. A little more work at first, but you have to empty the bag much less frequently and my kitchen trashcan doesn't smell- I've NEVER cleaned it.

    Get a dog, and you will never have to pick up dropped food again. (Unless it's chocolate, coffee, grapes, raisins, onions, macadamia nuts, etc. http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/ss/slideshow-foods-your-dog-should-never-eat )

    And the classic don't wear shoes or only wear slippers inside to prevent tracking dirt and mud through the house.

    7 agree
    • The wearing of shoes in the house has got to be an American thing; up here in Canada we take our shoes off at the door, every time, no questions asked. Why would you wear your outdoor shoes through the house when you know it's just going to track in dirt, sand and other debris? To wear your shoes through your house, or someone else's, unless told to wear them for some reason, is seen as extremely rude.

      14 agree
      • I have mixed feelings about it. I know people with foot problems, and they need to wear orthotics all day. It is a little awkward for them to explain wht they don't want to take their shoes off. Other people have foot odor issues and find it embarassing to take off their shoes. The other problem I have is when the floor is already really gross… like, do I have to get old food stuck to my socks? So I am an insane person who brings slippers to other people's houses.

        9 agree
        • You know, my son wears orthotics every day. Right now it's not an issue — we just ask if he can keep his shoes on and people are really receptive — but I have wondered how he'll feel about this as he gets older. Before he started wearing them we definitely had a shoes-at-the-door home, and even now he still usually wears his orthotics with house shoes/slippers when he's inside, but that is his preference. HMMM.

          4 agree
          • My mom just has a set of shoes with orthotics that are for inside the house only. She does take them with her to other people's homes, and they see her switch shoes–sometimes they ask, but really if someone switched their shoes to an identical-but-clearly-clean pair, would you ask? I have a pair of flip flops that lives in my car, which I wear in other people's homes. Though I've thought about getting some folding flats for my purse.

            2 agree
        • I'm totally with you on this- I used to be barefoot all the time or wear these awful, barely there flip flops that were so worn I couldn't wear them outside anymore. But now, I have plantar fasciitis. Wearing no shoes KILLS me!

          1 agrees
  5. I hate washing dishes but I'll try to at least rinse them out and, depending on the dish, fill it with hot water to soak. Then when it actually gets washed a day or two (or more) later, all the crud on the sides has been soaked into submission instead of getting dry and crusty and impossible to remove.

    9 agree
    • I'm probably the lazy of the land of lazy because I hate loading the dishwasher even though it's a nanosecond away from the sink. But the one thing I definitely do is I make sure to rinse the dishes immediately after dinner. I at least take the brush or dishrag and wipe them down, so they are relatively clean and ready for whenever I get off my lazy butt and put them in the dishwasher. And if I run out of dishes before I can load the dishwasher, I know I can give the dish a quick wipedown and use it again. Yeah, I'm realizing how lazy I really am.

      3 agree
    • My problem with this otherwise great trick is that I tend to let the dishes sit…and forget about them and when I come around to do the dishes, the water stinks.

      7 agree
      • I've found that a lot of times it's enough to rinse it generously without actually soaking it (because the only thing I hate more than crusted on gunk is stinky water full of gunk).

        It works best if the gunk can actually absorb a little water (like, say crumbs and not burnt on cheese on the side of the casserole dish), but sometimes I've been surprised that it still softened it up enough to be a lot more workable.

        3 agree
  6. Omg, how wonderful to have this as a series. I need more tips and lifesavers for lazy assholes please! I'm actually surprised to find I already do the cup/silverware thing because LAZY.

    17 agree
  7. I'm big on making the most out of my time. Just popped a bag of popcorn in the microwaves? That's two and a half minutes that I can use to wipe down the counters. Set water on to boil? Then I have enough time to unload the dishwasher. Waiting for the water to get hot? Sweep. It's amazing how quickly things get clean when you're waiting for other stuff to happen.

    33 agree
    • I do this too! The thought of having to clean an entire kitchen makes me want to order takeout. However, wiping down the counters while my tea water boils? No problem. Empty the dishwasher while the tea brews? Easy peasy.

      I worked in food service and retail for a long time, so I developed a spidey sense of "what little things can I do here?". Prior to becoming a software engineer, my partner was a camp counselor and tends to take the approach of, "Inspection (ie guests) is coming! Quick everybody stack things and clean everything!". We have split up our space into zones so as not to drive the other nuts.

      10 agree
  8. Hell yes to hot, soapy water. I have pretty much given up on cleaning chemicals, both out of concern for my health/the environment and my budget (which was surprisingly easy and an almost unconscious shift, actually). When the counters or stove are really grimy, I actually just pour some hot soapy water on them – not enough for a flood, just enough to get them good and wet – sprinkle some salt on everything, let it soak while I do dishes, and after about five minutes, everything wipes down easily and is sparkling clean.

    My cleaning dilemma – how to clean the toilet bowl without chemicals. My mom suggested vinegar, but my toilet-specific clean-freakiness is not satisfied. I scrub the hell out of it every couple of days (the underwater part was already grimy when I moved in) and nothing seems to work, so I may have to go back to chemical cleaner. Unless one of you brilliant folks has a suggestion.

    2 agree
    • What about a citric acid based cleaner? I use Restore. I think it's available at Target. I actually use it for the tub as well but dilute it more.

      2 agree
    • A tip I've used for cleaning toilet bowls is to throw in those fizzing denture cleaning tablets. Let them fizz about for an hour or so, then scrub it. Not as good as a chemical toilet bowl cleaner, but it's already designed to biological junk off of porcelain and enamel. You could try tossing one in every night until it looks cleaner.

      5 agree
    • I use baking soda. Save the box from the fridge, and pour a half cup or so into the toilet. Let sit. Scrub with brush. Just abrasive enough to get any stains off.

      3 agree
    • We too ditched chemicals and it took a while to find our toilet groove. For me the life saver was those pumice toilet scrubbing bars. If it squicks you out to submerge your hand in (clean) toilet water, maybe its not the best fit for you, but that shit (not really) scrubs that shit (really) and it takes a while to built back up.

      3 agree
    • I don't know if this will be too chemically for you, but grim under the water line is often lime scale that has discoloured. Cola is really acidic, so if you get the water out of the toilet bowl, replace it with cheap cola and leave it overnight to soak, the cola will melt the lime scale making your toilet look a lot better.

      3 agree
    • Try borax powder, I used it for many years after switching from chemical cleaners. Arm & Hammer is a brand that I believe is available in the US (if that's where you are).

      1 agrees
    • I know this post is old but I use a paste made from Dr Bronner's peppermint soap and baking soda. It works very well for the toilet and tub with the bonus of smelling awesome!

      2 agree
  9. Awesome tips! thanks for sharing!!…just one question…anyone figure out an easy way to clean a juicer? We've had a few different ones now and I gave up on juicing because it was too hard to clean the juicer after each use..could never get all the little pulpy rinds out of it…sponges seem to make it worse….. Any easy cleaning advice is very much appreciated!

    6 agree
    • clean it before you drink your juice!

      seriously, the longer that pulp sits, the harder it will be to clean. you can also fill your sink with hot soapy water to dunk it in, that will probably help too.

      3 agree
      • This is my approach to dealing with things like our immersion blender, so I would imagine it's equally as successful with a juicer. Again, not fun if you hate cleaning, but it's not as sucky as having to scrub solidified food off later.

        Quite often, if we have something more gunky/sticky in a container of some kind, we immerse it with some hot soapy water and then go back to it, as most of it comes off right away after a little soaking time.

        2 agree
    • Some juicers have compostable bags you can buy for the pulp receptacle (or you could certainly DIY this, I'm sure). I know lots of Breville ones have model-specific liners, not sure of other brands. Doesn't help with the other components, but if you take it apart right quick and soak them it shouldn't be too bad (provided they are water safe, don't ever put your base in water)!

    • I'm not sure if this will work in a juicer, but I clean my Vitamix blender by putting in a little dish soap and hot water and setting it on high for a minute or two. Then I dump the soapy water over the lid to clean it.

      5 agree
  10. If you have kids but no dog, I suggest getting a hand-held vacuum. Act like it is so cool and they will be begging for their turn. It's a treat for them to use it after every meal. Also I prefer to clean up dinner immediately after we've eaten while I still have momentum. If I leave it even an hour, I lose all motivation and end up with a half-assed job. Every morning I empty the dishwasher while coffee brews.

    11 agree
    • I would love a whole article on "how to make housework sound fun to children." Parents like you are brilliant. 🙂

      24 agree
      • While it didn't actually make it *fun*, my mom did have a pretty brilliant way of actually making us help with the cleaning. Basically, she gamified it, with real-life rewards for doing our share. When I was very young, my mom ran a family daycare, and she hired a cleaning service because life was just too crazy. When we got older, though, and Mom stopped the daycare, we stopped having the cleaning service, and instead set that money aside in the "cleaning fund". Money from the Cleaning Fund could be put towards tools or classes or other things of some sort of lasting value (as determined by my mom), but we had to first put in a written application. For the actual cleaning, we had a list of all the different cleaning tasks (e.g. scrubbing the toilet in the upstairs bathroom), with different point values associated, and we had to get a certain number of points each week. As we got older, we had to get more points each week (although we got our birthday week off).

        5 agree
        • Interesting idea! I like the fact that it gives motivation to clean (rather than making it seem like a punishment, that later might backfire into a young adult who moves out and decides that cleaning is no longer a necessary activity–aka, "no one can MAKE me clean my own apartment/do my dishes, etc), but not just for cash that might end up going toward something that wasn't worthwhile in the long run…sounds like it was a win-win kind of arrangement.

          2 agree
          • It really did work well. We had some choice in which chores we'd do, and we could vary those on a weekly basis, but we couldn't just do a few easy ones and be done, since the different point-values kept things fair. Also, it got my brother to write things. We were homeschooled, and reading and writing didn't come easily to my brother, so he'd avoid them when possible, but being able to get a new tool was sufficient motivation that he'd write the proposals!

            It was also neat that the reward was fairly directly linked to the activity — if we do the cleaning ourselves, we don't need to pay for a cleaning service, and we can put that money towards other things.

            5 agree
  11. Juicing yes…cleaning the juicer…not so much. I'm pretty sure it is my least favorite kitchen appliance to clean. That fiber-y crap just won't come out of the grater thing! Especially if I'm being my usual lazy asshole self and letting all the pulp dry on before I attempt to clean it 🙂

    1 agrees
  12. We took some 3M hooks and used them on the end of our counter so we could hang a mesh bag. Dirty tea towels and wash cloths go in the bag, as do bibs and the odd messy shirt. The dirty stuff doesn't hang out on the counter, as the bag is easy as pie to throw in the wash!

    7 agree
  13. Juicing? Seems hard. I would probably suggest making stock or pickling close to bad veggies. Doing it the old fashion way is SUPER easy. Just chop or shred the veggies. Put them in a jar with at least a teaspoon of salt and sit on the counter for a few days. Taste everyday to see if the veggies are soft, or not too soft. Boom! Done. Shove it in the fridge. You can jazz things up by adding herbs and spices. It is the process that you use for Kimchi and Sauerkraut. It seems scary but it is the SAFEST form of a fermentation. I have had yogurt, beer, mead, kombucha, and other fermentation project mold over, but never pickles. I highly suggest it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactic_acid_fermentation

    1 agrees
  14. Remember to clean your juicer promptly.. prob the best tip. If you juice several times a day you can always soak the parts in between and leave the final cleaning until the end of the day. 🙂

  15. Something I've discovered: If a half-hour of soaking doesn't do the trick, neither will soaking it longer. At that point, you're going to need to scrub or scrape (for stuck-on stuff) or apply dish soap directly (for super-greasy stuff). For soakable messes, you often don't even need to leave the item immersed–just soak it down and set it aside while you wash the rest of your dishes. Together, these prevent the problem of the pan of stinky water lurking in the sink.

    1 agrees
    • I've found a half hour of soaking to be no different than an hour in that neither do much at all, but an overnight is quite different. Baking soda in the soaking water is a major help. Heating the crockpot or soup pan makes a huge difference too. A little soap and baking soda in the sink with a casserole dish overnight will take off all the caked-on, baked-on, never-coming-off-with-elbow-grease brown splotchy sticky grease patches in the corners too.

      1 agrees
  16. Has anyone noticed the PREWASH cycle on the dishwasher . When you are done eating don't even go to the sink . Just put them in the dishwasher ( do remove any hard food, carrots bones ect.) and when every one is done run the prewash cycle no soap required, and you won't use as much water as you would by hand, no mess in the sink , run a full cycle when there is enough in it.

  17. I just have to say…I do this, and I call #3 Dump Juice (or dump soup, depending on what's available). I was laughing because this article is about cleaning, and dump juice can be very cleansing…for your intestines!

    …and of course, not until then did I realize that it's name is DUMP juice. So yes, dump juice works, no pun intended 😛

  18. Dish wands!
    I used to get so overwhelmed by all the dishes in the sink and I would put it off forever and feel miserable about it and it was just an awful cycle.
    I bought a dish wand, one of the ones that holds soap in the handle. Now I don't have to put in half the effort and can easily wash dishes as they land in the sink rather than waiting for a ton of them.

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