Written by contributor Katie Kimball, of Kitchen Stewardship.

Even if you don’t spend as much time in the kitchen as I do, I’m willing to wager that you’d love to find more ways to cut down on the time you’re trapped by food prep and clean-up. I’ve learned to cut more and more corners over the years, and I’m proud to shed the self-imposed title of “lazy” and replace it with this month’s theme for the Simple Living Media network: living on or with less.

Yes, that’s exactly what I do! I’m not lazy, just working smarter, with less… fewer dishes, that is.

I Don’t Use Cleaners on Everything

Photo by Katie Kimball

You could easily fill an entire shelf of your linen closet with different cleaners for different tasks if you wanted, even in the green cleaning realm. Here are a bunch of things I just clean with water, avoiding cleaners and saving time:

  1. Mirrors & windows (I use microfiber cloths)
  2. Steamer basket
  3. Pots from boiling eggs, cooking pasta, etc. (if they’re not sticky; you have to get the pasta out right away)
  4. Colanders, especially when we just wash a little fruit like grapes. Rinse and flip upside down to dry!
  5. Lettuce knife
  6. Salad spinner (love these for easy salad prep!)
  7. The thickener jar (If you have a couple meals to which you need to add a blend of cornstarch or flour and cold water to thicken up a sauce, it’s smart to keep a special jar that you know will stay closed to do the trick. I just rinse this jar and let it air dry, then stash it in my special spot.)
  8. The drink stirring spoon (When I stir sugar to dissolve in water for my water kefir, I just rinse the wooden spoon and put it back in my container to air dry. If I made Kool-Aid, I’d do the same thing.)

7 Things I Don’t Clean Every Time

Photo by Katie Kimball

I’ve learned to skip steps on many other items too, washing them with soap when necessary but trying my darndest to use each item multiple times before it goes in the massive “hand dishes” pile at our house.

Bread knife

Don’t look at me weird when you visit my house and observe this phenomenon: I get the knife out, slice bread or rolls, glance at it and maybe brush off the crumbs, and put it back in the drawer. Seriously, if you dropped a piece of bread on your counter, would you really grab a soapy dishcloth and scrub it down? Would you even use a damp dishcloth? No. Crumbs aren’t going to cause problems. Let them be!

Dry measuring cups/spoons

Sometimes I take it too far, like when my husband pulled a measuring cup covered in arrowroot starch dust out of the drawer and asked, “What happened here?” He was pretty surprised that I had put it back on purpose!

Food processor

Don’t let me gross you out. I wash my food processor more often than most people see theirs, but I do try to save by doing at least two things every time I get it out. I might shred cheese then puree beans for a meal, or make dried fruit and nut power bars and then raw applesauce. I also like to get a “two-fer” from my blender, whizzing stale bread into breadcrumbs or chopping nuts before I make a smoothie or blender pancakes.

Lids that don’t touch food

You know how some pot lids just have condensation on them, and lids from large bowls can do their job without ever touching food? Don’t tell, but I just air dry and return to the cupboard.

Some plastic bags

If it’s just been bread or tortillas or something that only makes crumbs and not grease, I might save the bag in a special spot for more bread or tortillas or whatever.

My baking stones

If I bake something that doesn’t make much mess, like rolls or biscuits, my baking stones get cooled off, brushed off, and stored. Since you can’t use soap on them anyway, why not cut one more corner?

The cheese box

We go through a lot of cheese in our house. I like to have ready-sliced cheese so I can just grab a piece for a quick snack instead of something sweet and naughty. I tend to refill and reuse the “cheese box” at our house for a few weeks, then wash it so we don’t deal with mold. I blogged about it in a very early post that remains one of my favorites: “Why I Have Empty Ziplocs in my Fridge

What can you reuse without washing at your house? (And am I lazy, or just smart? Wait…don’t answer that. I like my conclusion!)