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Thanksgiving Cleaning Tips

If you’ve ever prepared Thanksgiving dinner, you know that a lot of work goes into pulling off the meal smoothly. You also know that washing dishes and cleaning kitchen countertops after the meal can be exhausting, especially when you’re filled to the brim with turkey and dressing.

But there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to bake your pies and enjoy them with family, too. The following four tips on cleaning as you go can help you have less after-dinner washing up to do this Thanksgiving.

1. Make a plan.

Create an hourly cooking and cleaning to-do list. If you’re prepping pies two days before your dinner, your list should kick off at that time. It’ll really come in handy the day before your gathering and on Thanksgiving Day itself, as you’ll always have an idea of what should be going in or out of the oven when. Make notes on the sides of your list to indicate good times for loading the dishwasher or cleaning kitchen countertops. That way, you can spend much-needed time washing dishes or preparing green bean casserole instead of wildly looking around the kitchen asking, “What do I need to do now?”

2. Wipe down spills immediately.

The longer spilled gravy or cranberries sit, the more difficult they’ll be to chisel off the counter later. That’s why cleaning kitchen countertops and cooktops as you work is a crucial part of cutting down post-dinner housekeeping. Stock your kitchen with extra dish towels and wipe down spills and splatters as they happen. Cleaning kitchen countertops during meal preparation not only means less mess later, it can also prevent cross-contamination. The last thing you want is to send a dinner guest home with food poisoning.

3. Clean dishes in between meal preparation.

Unless you have an industrial-sized kitchen and a staff of sous-chefs, there’s no way every pie, casserole and side will be ready at the exact same time. That means you’re constantly going to be preparing and cooking food. After you chop up ingredients and get them working on the stove or in the oven, take some time for loading the dishwasher or, if the dishwasher’s full, for washing dishes by hand. Washing dishes and loading the dishwasher as you go means you won’t have to take up precious counter space with mounds of dirty cookware. It also means there’s less to do once the meal wraps up.

4. Slow down.

It can be stressful trying to perfectly time a meal and keep your kitchen from looking like it recently hosted a food fight. However, when you start rushing, you’re more likely to have major disasters occur, such as spills, broken dishes and even burns. Though you may always have that relative who keeps asking if dinner is ready, most of your family will be too busy enjoying each other to notice the meal isn’t exactly on schedule. And, hopefully, you’ll always have a guest or two who offers to help with washing dishes or general cleaning up. (Accept these gracious offers when they come.) Take your time and you’ll be less likely to make measuring mistakes and messes.

With all the cooking and cleaning you do before and after Thanksgiving, you deserve some time to relax. After all, it’s your holiday, too. So this year, make washing dishes and cleaning kitchen countertops as you work a part of your holiday dinner plans; when you have less clean-up to take on after everyone has left, you’ll be thankful you took the time to do so.