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How to Cut the Post-Thanksgiving Dinner Cleanup in Half

The key to a quick kitchen cleanup after the Thanksgiving eat-a-thon is not making a big, sticky mess before it.


  • Step 1: Cover your counters Before you begin cooking, cover your counters with a layer of plastic wrap or some old newspapers.
  • Step 2: Protect the stove Place foil or a cookie sheet at the bottom of your oven to catch spills. Wrap your burners in foil. If you have a stovetop exhaust fan, turn it on to suck up grease.
  • TIP: Spread a thin layer of cooking oil along the inside rim of your pots to prevent boilovers.
  • Step 3: Keep stuff from sticking Spritz measuring cups with cooking spray before filling them with sticky ingredients like molasses or corn syrup; it makes cleanup a breeze. This trick works on cheese graters, too.
  • Step 4: Use one prep bowl Dirty fewer prep dishes. For each recipe, line a big bowl with plastic wrap or wax paper. Chop or measure ingredients in the reverse order they'll be needed, separating each with a layer of wrap. Then just lift them out as you go and rinse the bowl.
  • TIP: If you use a handheld mixer, cut a hole through a paper plate and stick the beaters through it to prevent splatter.
  • Step 5: Fill a dish tub Fill a large plastic dish tub with hot, sudsy water just before you sit down to dinner. Soak all your dirty pots and pans while you’re eating.
  • TIP: Add a few pots of boiling water to the suds so the water stays piping hot.
  • Step 6: Boil soapy water in dirty pots As you’re clearing the table, take any pots and pans that still have stuck-on food, fill them with water, add some dishwasher detergent, and bring the sudsy water to a boil. The food will slide right off.
  • Step 7: Rinse with hot water Use very hot water to rinse any dishes you’re hand washing; they’ll dry faster. And let them air dry -- it’s not only easier, but more sanitary.
  • FACT: According to a survey, cleaning up after the meal is the second most stressful part of Thanksgiving, after getting the preparations done on time.

You Will Need

  • Plastic wrap or newspapers
  • Aluminum foil or cookie sheet
  • Cooking oil
  • Wax paper
  • Cooking spray
  • A dish tub
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • A paper plate

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