It’s easily the best thing I’ve done so far.
Since I started my “Decluttering and Simplifying 2010” project in late December, nothing has made as much difference in my day-to-day life as my totally clean countertops.
Instead of simply wiping off the counters and placing the same junk back into freshly-cleaned spaces, I decided to go for something more radical: Nothing on the kitchen counters. There are three exceptions: The microwave remains at the far right of the L-shaped counters. To the far left, David’s cream, sugar and French press coffeemaker still occupy the two feet to the left of the sink. A bottle of dish detergent (which doubles as hand soap) stays at the back right of the sink.
There is no room on my counters or in my life for trivets or canisters shaped like mushrooms.
When one of us makes a meal or snack, the dishes go directly into the dishwasher as soon as we’re done. That’s a new concept for us. A few items can remain in the sink if the dishwasher hasn’t been emptied yet.
It’s a simple concept, but it’s making a big difference in my life. When I go into the kitchen, I immediately see a reminder of how important this decluttering project is to me — and of how much progress I’ve already made. More importantly, there are four good reason why it’s best to have nothing on your kitchen countertops.
1. Clutter Breeds Clutter
If you allow one thing on a surface, just one more item won’t hurt anything.
A loaf of bread looks lonely and out of place on a totally clean countertop, but next to a sack of potatoes, a box of cereal and a ceramic cookie jar, it seems at home. Boxes are meant for cabinets; bread stays fresh better in the refrigerator; potatoes keep longer when kept in the dark. The blender stays cleaner between uses if it’s covered and stored under the counter, and so does the slow cooker. I didn’t use the the food processor or toaster oven, so they’ve left the building — and I don’t miss them.
2. You Save Time
If the countertops are totally clean, that means everything is put away where it should be, saving the time you would have spent looking for it. Is that plate the one I just used or was it from last night’s snack? Where did I put the pepper grinder? Why is the can opener way over there?
We also had a real problem with the number of dishes we used each day, but we’re using fewer dishes now. We allow ourselves one drinking glass each day, and try to limit the number of plates and bowls we use. Using fewer dishes keeps the countertops clean and means we wash fewer loads. And that means I’m loading and unloading the machine fewer times.
3. It’s More Sanitary
When items stay out, they gather dust. Crumbs get pushed underneath them. Then, you bump against them and shift them slightly as you prepare your meals. Dust and debris flies, and some of it lands in your food. Where did that hair come from? It was from one of the cats, and she shed it weeks ago. Crumbs and dust are more noticeable where they fall on a totally clean countertop.
When nothing is there, a quick wipe with a spray cleaner, some vinegar or a cloth soaked in a bleach-water disinfects your whole countertop area, not just the parts of it that aren’t under something else.
4. It Creates Mindfulness
Processes have beginnings, middles and ends. Preparing a meal starts with the shopping and ends when the dishes used for it are put away. Eating well means careful purchasing, thoughtful preparation and deliberate eating, but if you leave the dishes on the counter, on the table or in the living room, you haven’t completed the process.
It’s no wonder when people feel their lives are missing something. They probably aren’t completing life’s processes.
I’m feeling more complete because I’m putting things away when I’m done — and keeping things away that don’t serve any purpose.
Gip Plaster is a web content writer. Previously a journalist, online bookseller and even a corporate advertising guy, Gip now specialize in writing high-quality content for websites — his and other people’s. Visit Gip’s Front Yard (www.gipsfrontyard.com) too.