Do You Keep the Kitchen Clean as You're Cooking?

Updated on December 27, 2013
L.B. asks from New Rochelle, NY
40 answers

First of all, I have to say that no one has ever accused me of being a neat freak. I love to cook fancy meals with multiple ingredients, and unless its one of the rare times I have guests, I mostly do it for my husband. But lately I have lost the desire to cook because these days, he starts in on me almost as soon as he walks through the door about what a mess I've made. Like I said, I have never been neat, and I do use every available surface. I also have a toddler and a baby, and usually the toddler standing in his helper stool and I'm holding the baby or otherwise trying to keep him from crying. I feel like its a miracle that I manage to get food made in the first place. After the kids go to bed, I'll start cleaning up, and since I'm exhausted, I prefer to finish in the morning. My husband thinks I should clean as I go. If I don't do it, then he makes a big deal of staying up late to do it himself instead of spending some precious little time hanging out with me. He wants everything not only clean but organized. I think it's a waste of time to rearrange cupboards once a week or more. I'll take sanitary and semi neat. How do you do things? Today I'm making a really big, multi course dinner for Christmas Eve and he's already started complaining about the mess, before I even got very far.

What can I do next?

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answers from Bloomington on

I have to clean , as I go. I can't stand the clutter, mess , or dirty dishes. If I'm not able to clean as I go, I'd rather not cook.
My husband... Is a total mess in the kitchen but since he does the majority of the cooking, so I keep my mouth shut & clean for him.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

I generally do keep things clean while I cook, but sometimes mess is unavoidable if baby is crying, or a sauce where timing is important, or there's a million things on at once (Christmas or Thanksgiving). Sometimes I prefer to wait on finishing the kitchen until morning as well, especially if family is over.

Messes happen. They get cleaned up. If hubby ain't cookin', he needs to either help or leave you alone. He's missing out on time with you if he cleans the kitchen instead. Although if he did that I'd be tempted to leave the WHOLE mess for him to clean up.

Maybe you guys could discuss less fancy meals, since you said you mainly do it for him. Sorry it's a pain on Christmas eve. What is he doing now? Can he help? Take the kids so you can work?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

No! I concentrate on cooking. Clean afterwards.
They way I look at it: they're lucky I'm cooking for them.
They better not complain.
Nobody's perfect.
Tell hubby the one cooking gets to decide how the cleaning goes.
Best wishes for a happy night & Merry Christmas.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from San Francisco on

Ask your husband how he would like it if you came to his job and told him how to do it. Would he appreciate you following him around and giving him "advice" and complaining about his work habits?
Seriously. The kitchen is MY domain. Yes, I tend to clean as I go but that's what works for ME. And sometimes messes happen that don't get cleaned up right away, that's life. If my husband came in trying to micromanage how I was working I would tell him he's free to do it himself if he doesn't like the way I do it.
Come to think of it I HAVE told him that! Shut him up pretty quick ;-)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

If you are cooking, you do it your way. When he cooks he can do it his way.

Tell him to back off, or he will not be getting anything for dinner.
Or at night when you go to bed.

He needs to learn that his way is not the only way. This is not all about him.

He is doing a good job of killing your spirit.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Madison on

I feel very blessed.

I make our dinner.

My husband joyfully, with a 'team work' attitude cleans and loads all the dishes in the dishwasher that I used to prepare dinner. And washes, dries, and puts away any big pots, etc.
He's never complained.
I think he feels blessed that I make us healthy, tasty meals each night.
So it's a win, win.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I wonder if its occurs to him that since YOU cooked it, he might wash up?

(In my marriage that was impossible... He made everything so miserable, that I would rather do everything myself. One of the nice things about being divorced, is that now I still do everything... But there's no one complaining about how Im doing it!!!)

I do both.
It depends on what I'm making, how fast, and what else is going on.

One of my FAV things (that I started doing a few years back) is STOPPING. <grin>. Meaning that when dinner is "done", I don't plate & serve. I take a 10 mine break. THEN I clean up. THEN I plate & serve. So I'm not coming to the table a stressed out sweaty mess, either starvin'not'tastin or not even hungry since I've been up to my elbows in food & kids. If anyone wants dinner faster... They can help clean up. Or zip it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

You know what? If I was married to your husband he'd have plenty to be pissed off the second time he ever said anything like that to me.

The first time I'd have been so shocked I don't know what I would have done. The second time he said that I'd hand him a the kids and walk out to go have a pop with any friend I could find that would answer the phone and join me.

If he ever said anything like that me again I'd tell him he could either hire a full time housekeeper or he could get his apron on and help out.

There is no earthly reason for him to be treating you like your are an indentured servant in your own home. He would have not gotten away with that sort of attitude with most people.

When my husband says anything to me I remind him how perfect he is and that if he doesn't like my way of doing something he is more than welcome to show me how he likes to do it at any time. That usually shuts him up. He knows if he doesn't sort his laundry into the right hampers he's likely to find in a week or so that he has zero underwear, zero pants, and certainly zero shirts.

He can help or he can hinder. I am not his servant, I am his spouse, his most cherished and beloved person in this world. He should be begging me to give him things to do so he can show me how much he appreciates me. Just as I should love him that much.

We are equals, not one money earner and one servant.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I'm the clean as you go type. I like a very neat workspace - always have. My desk was always immaculate, too. Right now, I have a roast in the oven and several side dishes already made. My kitchen looks like it could be in a magazine because I cleaned up after stage one. There will be a stage two of cooking later and I'll clean up after that one, too. That's just the way I am, so I completely understand how your husband feels.

My MIL is more like you. She uses every pan and every surface. When she comes to visit and cooks (she's a phenomenal cook), I cringe at the state my kitchen is left in when she's done. And guess who gets clean it all up. I keep telling myself it's worth it because the food is so good.

Her way is not worse or better than my way, just different. If your husband is so anal about keeping things clean, maybe he should do the cooking HIS way...

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

You won me over at "I also have a toddler and a baby". I do like to clean as I go and I have my lovely assistants to help along the way. At 11 & 15 they are creative, diligent and fun in the kitchen.

When they were small I cooked less and attempted mostly simple meals. If you are cooking and watching little ones at the same time your husband should be doing the dishes himself!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Lancaster on

I cook - A LOT. Complicated, multiple ingredients, from scratch kind of cooking. I've lost track of how many different dishes I've made over the last week or so for Christmas. My kitchen has been a disaster - all surfaces full, dishes piled up in the sink and on the counter, vegetable peelings everywhere, many many loads of dishes in and out of the dishwasher. I LOVE to cook. Cleaning up, ughhhh, not so much. DH is very good about offering help with the results of my cooking. He will load/unload the dishwasher multiple times in a day if it's needed.

It would get on my last nerve if DH made comments about messiness while I was in the middle of cooking. I honestly would have a hard time cheerfully cooking under those circumstances. Maybe next time ask him for help cleaning up or call for take-out.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

When my friend and I had babies like yours, we would get on the phone about 9 am and be cleaning last nights dishes, lol!
We used to joke that, we cleaned the dishes once a day, whether it needed it or not, lol. Believe me, it needed it!

My mil was always after me to clean as I go. As I find myself with no babies, I do draw up a sink full of hot soapy water at the begining and if I find a min. Then I do drop stuff in and wash as I go.

I get all my ingredients out at the start of a project and then put them up as I add them. Then I don't leave anything out of the mixture and I have nothing left out on the counter and I know if I have everything for the recipe before I start.

Yours sounds like a perfectly wonderful, loving kitchen. You love your H by making a meal, you love your kids by letting them cook with you. If H wants to pout about the mess, he will just have to pout. (as I would tell him so, no doubt) I think you have good priorities!

As life goes along, you will get time to be more free to manage your time differently.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

Your husband is a grown man. What's stopping him from picking up a dishrag and getting to work if leaving the kitchen until morning bothers him? And what's stopping you from letting him? The next time he puts on a big show of cleaning up and working on it until late in the evening, thank him profusely for it, tell him how much that helps you after a long day of wrangling a toddler and a baby and cooking from scratch with their "help."

As for the constant reorganizing, that sounds a little OCD to me, but if he feels the need to organize the cabinets every day, fine. Then HE can do it. Thank him, but do tell him gently that that is not what most of us out here in the real world do, and to expect it of you is not realistic.

He needs to recognize that "clean as you go" is his style, not yours, and works best when you are not also attempting to watch and entertain a baby and a toddler as you go. Also, it might help if you explain to him that the reason you don't complete it every night is that you value your time with him, and the evenings are when he is available. As long is the kitchen is finished the next morning and maintained in sanitary condition, the important part is getting done. The timing is personal. He should either give you room to do things your way without criticism, or step up and do the work himself, without the show. Share with him that the constant critical behavior from him is causing you to lose your motivation to welcome him home with a fine meal on the table.

If he continues to try to push you into doing it his way, then smile sweetly at him and tell him that he could always either do the cooking or take you out to dinner. Then the kitchen would not end up a mess.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I'm a neat freak so pretty much clean as I go. My mom is like you and it drives me crazy. But like I tell myself and you should tell your husband "don't like it? Go ahead and do the cooking!" I would tell him you will try to be A LITTLE neater but he needs to adjust and accept too or he can do the cooking. And if that's unlikely/not possible as I assume is the case, then start making super simple boring meals for him. If he comments, say this way you don't make a mess. I'm trying to not argue versus use more logic. My husband doens't like how I do the dishes so now he's doing them or he can keep his comments to himself. I can try to do it more his way but he also has to "give" or shut up and do them himself. His choice. And if your husband stays up late to do it himself, let him be the martyr. We women know how far that gets you... But also sit down and try to work out a compromise. Would all the dishes dirty but in the sink help him to cope? I will say us neat freaks just are so bugged by a mess. It's silly but how we are wired. But again - he has to compromise too.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My husband is a clean as you go type, I'm not. Then again, my husband (waaaaaaaaaaaay back when he cooked) was either cooking a one dish meal for himself or trying to impress his girlfriend, me. He's cooked like 3 meals in 8 years, if I've been home. And even when I did go out of town a few times to see my mom, I still prepared some meals he could reheat instead of actually cooking (he could do what he wants, I just wanted him to have the option of being lazy). My point? Cooking for 1 or 2 if it's a date is a little different, in my opinion, than cooking and entertaining children at the same time.

That said, I have made efforts to do better and while it's a pain at first to figure out, I have to say it DOES make things easier to clean as you go. I do a little better now because I appreciate it for myself now.

What I told my husband about a year after we were married and he still nagged about the clean as you go thing was that I thought it was so fun and romantic when we used to cook TOGETHER when we were dating, and he was more than welcome to join me and HELP ME, but if he didn't want to physically help then he needed to get out of "my domain" while I created a great dinner. Unless he's having to clean the mess when it's over, he doesn't really have any reason to stress the mess. He's been very good about minding his own business, unless he wants to come in and chat and assist me where he can (like, he's a super fast chopper, I'm slower and could be doing something else while he knocks the chopping out...that kind of thing).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

My hubby has OCD and like yours, he finds a mess very disturbing. I've learned to joke with him about it and try to get him to see he is being a little over the top. For instance we have a running joke about him making me a map I can follow so I can put things in the "right" spot in the fridge.

I do some clean as I go and some clean at the end (but I never leave it for the morning unless we have had company that stays late. I can't stand starting the day with a messy kitchen). Some of my favorite meals are Shepard's pie and enchiladas because I make them early, clean all the mess and then just bake them at dinner time!

Hopefully your hubby can relax a little and enjoy the holiday with you!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I clean as I go. After I use an ingredient, it is just as easy to put it away as it is to leave it out on the counter. Maybe that is why I really don't enjoy cooking...I don't like messes.

My husband on the other hand makes a complete disaster of the kitchen but I never complain when it is not me cooking and I get to enjoy his food. He is a way better cook than me.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Clean as I go. I cannot STAND piles of dirty dishes all over. I cannot (ok, will not) cook if the sink has dirty things in it. And I'm not OCD. I just need a clean kitchen and don't like all the work of cleaning left when I am ready to enjoy the food I've made. I want the work done already.

But.. that said... that is how "I" do things. You asked how I did it, that's how. But my husband wouldn't care if I did it the other way. He does. (he leaves things everywhere). And your husband shouldn't care either, unless you leave all the mess for him to clean up. Do you? If you are doing the cleaning too, then he can shut his pie hole.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I am definitely not a neat freak. I only clean as I go as needed or as time permits. Otherwise the mess can wait until after dinner or the next morning. This is why I don't understand open concept homes. I don't want to sit and eat in my dining room and be able to see my kitchen! I want to leave my kitchen mess behind closed doors, enjoy my meal, and clean up later. My husband usually cleans up the kitchen after dinner anyway, since I did the cooking. (Of course I still have to clean up after he cleans up, since we have much different standards). If I really want to hang out with him I suppose I can help him. MY cupboards only get re-organized about once a year. Everything just gets put back where it belongs so I really don't need to re-organize unless I get new stuff (like at Christmas).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I do not clean as I go. If I use a spice I will put it back as soon as I'm done or put the vegetables back in the fridge right away but I have very little counter space. As far as dish cleanup, no because I feel like its wasting water. I don't have a dishwasher. Sometimes, I don't get to the dishes the same night so they will sit till after dinner the next night.

You tell your husband that if hes so concerned with the mess, that he can cook dinner and do the dishes. If my husband complains he gets a mouth full and then I threaten to stop cooking for 2 weeks. it bothers me when people complain about someone elses mess with household chore like stuff but aren't willing to step in and help. As long as your cleaning up the mess, it shouldn't matter if its done that night or the next day.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

I love to cook, but hate to wash up. He doesn't mind cleaning the kitchen after dinner and it's the only chore he does regularly. I try to put things away as I work so I have the counter space I need, but I'm not anal about it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I clean as I go.
I just don't like things piling up.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

oooo, i couldn't be married to him! we're similar to you guys in many ways (i'm the cook, and i tend to be pretty wild when i'm creating, and he's the neat one), but i'd be pretty scowly if i had someone standing over me telling me how to get it done.
if there are lags in the prep process i will do dishes as i go, mostly because i have limited counter space and need to keep it clear. but putting together big feasts like christmas and thanksgiving is very work and focus intensive, and anyone who's not being supportive needs to find somewhere else to be. fortunately for me, my husband is appreciative of the work involved, and just stands by to stand and deliver when requested, usually setting the table and doing the dishes afterwards.
flylady ruined me for leaving the mess til the morning, though. i HAVE to have a clean kitchen when i go to bed, and wake up to no more than one or two items in the sink. but that's my deal.
i'm in awe that you rearrange the cupboards once a week or more!
tell your husband to keep the kids entertained while you create culinary magic, and stay the hell out of your grill.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Huntington on

I am somewhere in the middle. I clean enough as I go as I need to; enough to make sure I have work space available, that I have clean dishes available, and that things are sanitized. But I do not do a mega cleaning after each stage because it feels like a waste of time to me if I am still making a mess in the kitchen. I am a fairly messy cook but at the same time I am a neat freak.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Let *him* cook it if he thinks it has to be perfect as you go. Sheesh. I mean, it's not like you don't have enough to do....

I clean as I go, for the most part, but I've been known to leave a mess on occasion-- and I have only a 6 year old who can entertain themselves. And my husband is smart enough to leave well enough alone or just shut up and help out. Because I am not the only person in our house capable of doing dishes.

In short: your husband needs to put up or shut up.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Your husband is clueless!!! I am so sorry!!! He has no clue how impossible it is to care for young kids AND maintain a neat home. I also have never been accused of being neat, and I am also too exhausted to clean up at night and also prefer cleaning up in the morning. Since you cool dinner, he should be the one who cleans up anyway! One person cooks, and the other person cleans.
I would not have sex with my husband if he always criticized me! You shouldn't have sex with him if he won't stop! Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I clean as I go. I can't stand a dirty kitchen.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I keep it clean as I go, but only in theory. The need-to-wash items automatically go in the sink (we don't have an automatic dishwasher) and I try to put ingredients away when I'm done with them, but it often gets out of hand.

I know the value of it. But it just doesn't always happen. Then I have a bigger job later, but that's the way it goes. Cleaning is just a part of the job.

I know you're venting about your husband, but go give him a kiss and tell him you love him. Tell him that if he must stay up late tonight, you'll take it as a present from him to you. He may think, "Huh? We're on the same side?"

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I don't cook because I can't keep the kitchen clean. I am too busy cleaning it!!!
Baby, toddler, and a bunch of preschoolers plus elementary.
I heat stuff. But there is never really a mess. It's not "cooking."
Paper dishes only, too.

If husband isn't cooking...then he gets no say. :) You already said you clean up afterwards.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

I am going thru the very same things. So bad I'm yelling at him to just shut up. I bet you'd like to see him do the very same thing as you are doing--two little ones and having to cook and everything. My place is messy, yes, but still. My husband has started cleaning the house because he can't stand the mess. It is totally impossible to cook and clean at the same time. You should tell him that if he don't like it, then start helping out and explain it him that u have young children to care for. Just talk it out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Many many years ago my aunt showed me how to clean as I cook. I once had the kitchen a complete wreck when she got home and that did not fly in any way shape or form.

It is easy to have a sink with hot soapy sudsy water to put a put or pan in and a dish cloth to wipe things down with. If you have a Iimited number of utensils and pans it makes it easier to reuse them when they are clean. I hate to have to come into the kitchen after dinner to a pile of pans or dishes. You can't enjoy your company.

Just figure out a way to do the cleaning as you go and enjoy the evening. If hubby is so upset then have him roll up his sleeves and wash the dishes and pans.

I am not one for redoing my cupboards weekly to maintain an organized kitchen. That is time that could be used elsewhere.

Good luck.

the other S.

PS I love to cook.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

kids your kids clean. no cook. kids my kids age, 9, yes, i like to keep the kitchen clean as i cook. i kind of agree with your hubby. i can't imagine leaving a dirty kitchen overnight, but that's why i didn't cook when mine were little.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It's exactly the same in our house. My husband is a pastry chef and says there are tow types of cooks - those who clean as they go, and those who make a huge mess and clean up later. I am the former, and he is the latter. My style bugs him, but he's become tolerant of it, and will often assist in the clean up now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I try to clean as I go because I have such limited counter space and I hate the mess. If I don't do it right after dinner, it will sit til the next day which drives me nuts. If someone else dislikes it, they are welcome to clean. So far only my FIL and a friend have done the dishes for me.


I try to clean as I go because I have such limited counter space and I hate the mess. If I don't do it right after dinner, it will sit til the next day which drives me nuts. If someone else dislikes it, they are welcome to clean. So far only my FIL and a friend have done the dishes for me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

God what I would give to be married to a man that is freaky clean and organized like me.

But with that being said your husband is being a jackass. He married you this way and he needs to accept how you do things.

Merry Christmas

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I do try to clean as I go and if I don't, then I do clean up the kitchen right after dinner. It bugs me if the kitchen is a mess and I have to wake up to it. I really can't stand a messy kitchen. I try to make sure everything has a place and nothing is on the counter tops. I don't have a lot of counter space anyway. Every night after dinner, I wash dishes, wipe the counters and table and sweep the floor. In the morning (if I have time), I will empty the dishwasher and load up breakfast dishes that way I can come home to a clean kitchen after work


answers from Phoenix on

I don't agree that it's "totally impossible to cook and clean at the same time" like someone else said. I am not a clean freak by any means, nor am I a good cook, nor do I even really *like* to cook. However, I do *try* to clean as I go. It isn't that hard to rinse out a mixing bowl and stick it in the dishwasher. When I'm chopping veggies for a salad, I do the same thing, throw away the extra peelings and stuff instead of just piling them up. I also wipe up the counter as I go. Now, cleaning up after dinner is a problem for me, I don't know why but after I eat, I'm kind of just done. lol So the kids have been clearing the table and helping out, which they really should be doing anyway. It all works out. So you should try to clean as you go, it isn't hard once you start to do it. And if you do leave something til the morning and your husband hops up to clean it, just say, "thanks honey" and leave it at that. My husband is the same way, if he sees something that needs to be done, he just does it, he doesn't hold it against me or think its 'my job', he was just raised like that. It sounds like you guys just need to meet in the middle and work it out. Good luck.



answers from Baton Rouge on

I clean the kitchen as I go because I don't want to face a mountain of dirty pots, utensils, etc. when I'm done. The other night, I made 5 dozen mini-loaves of banana bread and four loaves of stuffed French bread, and when the last loaf went into the oven, the dishwasher was already running with the last of the dirty dishes in it.



answers from Chattanooga on

I'm both... My kitchen is minuscule, with only one 6 foot span of counter I can use for preparing food (shared with the microwave, and our mail reception area... And husband's work junk...) If I don't clean as I go, I wind up with no space to use.

So my natural inclination is messy... But I clean as I go out of necessity. I usually just have a grocery bag on the counter for any trash, put used dishes straight into the sink, and keep a rag handy to wipe. Whenever there is a break (let simmer for 5 minutes...) I start rinsing dishes and stuffing them in the dishwasher, or hand washing things that need it, as well as putting away ingredients/spices I am finished with. When I know there won't be any more trash I chuck my counter bag. Then, before bed, I finish the dishes, wipe the counter, and sweep the floor.

My daughter gets to help cook most nights... But if I'm doing something that involves a lot of keeping busy, I have her play in her room. Lol.



answers from New London on

I tryyy toi clean as I go but bottom line is no one is perfect and it doesn't happen. I would find a nice way to tell your husband to lay off

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