How to clean your kitchen in 15 minutes or less, according to cleaning experts

Guests arriving any minute? Or simply sick of the mess? Try this quick clean-up routine

blue kitchen with white hexagonal tiles
(Image credit: Future PLC / Lizzie Orme)

If there's one room capable of going from beautiful to bombsite in the blink of an eye, it's the kitchen. So learning how to clean your kitchen in 15 minutes or less is a worthwhile endeavour, particularly at Christmas. 

With the room at its busiest and guests (invited or otherwise) liable to show up at any minute, getting a speed-cleaning routine down pat is essential to allow your kitchen ideas to look their best. And if you can get the whole family involved, even better. Allocate everyone a job or two, and race to get it done – properly, of course. The winner can have the last mince pie...

We've spoken to some of our favourite experts, including TV presenter and author Lynsey Crombie, Queen of Clean, to grab their tips for cleaning against the clock. On your marks, get set, scrub!

How to clean a kitchen in 15 minutes or less

When you're in a rush, it's important to prioritise what to tackle – and what to leave out. We asked Lynsey Crombie what she would and wouldn't clean.

'I'd wipe down the surfaces, scrub the sink and draining board, wipe over the front of appliances, spot clean any spillages on the floor, tidy up clutter and change the tea towel and dish cloth,' she told us.

And what would she ignore? 'I'd probably leave out the fronts of cupboards, extractor fan, fridge and the floor. People don’t pay much attention to these areas,' she says. 

'If you're short on time, skip drying and putting away dishes,' adds Housekeep's Liam Dickerson. 'I'd also ignore cupboard doors and surfaces that aren't used for food prep.'

How to clean your kitchen in 15 minutes – what you'll need

  • A dishwasher tablet
  • Microfibre cloths
  • Stainless steel polish, such as Bar Keepers Friend, available on Amazon
  • Washing-up liquid
  • Sponges and scourers
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • A freshly laundered tea towel
  • A new dishcloth
  • A scented candle
  • Rubbing alcohol, white vinegar and essential oils (or a shop-bought disinfectant spray)

How to clean a kitchen in 15 minutes – step-by-step

1. Load the dishwasher

Start by loading the dishwasher. This will help you clear the clutter and make any surfaces easier to clean. It's probably going to be the most time-consuming part of this cleaning challenge, but it's also likely to make the most immediate difference. 

Top tip: Don't, in your rush to get the job done, throw your dishwasher tablet straight into the appliance. Always use the detergent compartment. Otherwise, the tablet will dissolve as soon as water is added to the machine, and your dishes won't be cleaned properly. The compartment will only drop the tablet or pod into the mix during the wash cycle, when it's needed. 

Miele integrated dishwasher with door ajar

(Image credit: Miele)

2. Wipe down surfaces

Now the decks are a little clearer, you can get to work on your surfaces. You'll want to tackle these as quickly as possible to give your cleaner a chance to work its magic. 

'To get your worktops super clean, you need to use the two-step cleaning process,' says Lynsey. 'First, clean them with warm soapy water – this will remove any sticky patches and marks. Then go over them with a disinfectant spray, allowing it to work in for a minimum of 5 minutes before rinsing and buffing dry with a clean microfibre cloth.'   

Lynsey shares her own homemade recipe for a powerful disinfectant spray on her Queen of Clean blog which involves cleaning with vinegar, but warns you should not use it on granite or marble surfaces:

  • Half-fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol  
  • Add 25 ml of white vinegar, available on Amazon  
  • Add 25 drops of essential oils (choose one with antibacterial properties such as, citrus, tea tree or eucalyptus 

Blue and wood modern kitchen with white worktops

(Image credit: Future/James French)

3. Tackle the sink

Lynsey has another sure-fire method for how to clean a sink and taps. 'Mix together white vinegar with washing-up liquid, as this is the best way to tackle any hard water build up or limescale,' she tells us. 'Scrub thoroughly, then allow the product to sit for five minutes before rinsing your sink and tap clean with fresh water.'

Sara San Angelo, professional housekeeper and founder of Confessions of a Cleaning Lady, has another favourite product for cleaning sinks. 'If your sink is made of stainless steel, give it a quick going over with Bar Keeper's Friend,' she says. 'It will make it shine like new!'

Bar Keepers Friend Stain Remover 300g | £2.99 at Lakeland

Bar Keepers Friend Stain Remover 300g | £2.99 at Lakeland
Sara's favourite cleaner can be used on stainless steel, china, brass, copper, tiles, grouting and chrome, and brings up steel and porcelain sinks a treat.

Yellow kitchen with white kitchen sink

(Image credit: Future PLC)

4. Take out the trash

While your best cleaning products are working their magic, ensure there are no bad odours lurking by emptying your food waste and recycling bins, adding new liners where necessary (biodegradable, of course), and giving them a very quick wipe down with soapy water. 

Under counter kitchen rubbish bin and recycling

(Image credit: Future PLC)

5. Wipe down appliances

There will be no time to work miracles – meaning we're afraid that you'll have to live with that dirty oven glass and greasy extractor. If you're very short on time, the best places to clean are your hob and your fridge door, as these are the most visible. 

For your hob, 'a couple of squirts of washing-up liquid in warm water will get the job done,' says Liam. 

For tips on cleaning your fridge door, we spoke to Lucy Baxter, group marketing manager at Bosch. 'To clean a stainless steel refrigerator, first, find the direction of the stainless steel grain,' she says. 'It could be horizontal, vertical or diagonal.

'Next, wash the steel with a soft cloth and mild, soapy water. Be sure to always wipe in the direction of the grain. Wipe dry with a soft cloth.'

If you have time, you could give the door a polish – the aforementioned Bar Keepers Friend is ideal, or Bosch has its own specialist stainless-steel conditioning oil, £10.34. 'Remove any excess with a paper towel,' adds Lucy. 

Blue kitchen with gold hardware, wooden parquet floor and silver fridge freezer

(Image credit: Future PLC)

6. Vacuum the floor

'Always prioritise vacuuming over mopping,' says Liam Dickerson, who explains that you simply won't have time to wait for your floor to dry. However, it is worth spot cleaning any noticeable stains and spills, especially in high-traffic areas. 

This is where the new breed of wet-to-dry vacuum cleaners comes into play. These clever evolutions of the stick vacuum cleaner can suck up, wash and dry spills in seconds.

'In the last five years, we’ve seen an eight-fold increase in online search interest for ‘spot washer’, and average search interest for ‘spot cleaner’ has risen by over 200 percent,' says Verity Kalinowski, Vax UK Commercial Director, who cites the newly launched cordless VAX ONEPWR Glide 2 hard floor cleaner as a good option for quick kitchen cleans. The new Dyson Submarine is a possible alternative, though it's yet to launch in the UK. 

Dining area with storage shelves and baskets in the corner, blackboard panel, white walls and white painted floorboards

(Image credit: Future PLC)

7. Dress your kitchen

We're on the final stretch now, so you might want to pop the kettle on at this point, ready for a rewarding cuppa. 

As Lynsey Crombie suggests, now's the time to gather up any dirty cloths and tea towels, pop them in the washing machine, and replace them with freshly laundered linens. You could also light a scented candle or plug in an electric diffuser with the best scent for a kitchen like citrus or bergamot.

'I like like to use diffusers with essential oils to make a kitchen smell nice,' reveals Sara San Angelo. 'But be aware that some essential oils are not good for animals to inhale.' 

Kitchen with breakfast bar

(Image credit: Future/Lizzie Orme)


Do you have any hacks to clean a kitchen faster?

The best way to speed your self up when cleaning is to work in a clear order. 'Work efficiently - clean from top to bottom,' says Liam Dickerson. 'You don't have to clean everything – spot clean high traffic areas – and if you have two hands free - use them both!'

Another hack is to set a challenge for yourself by putting on a song and challenging yourself to finish cleaning before it's done. There will be no time for procrastination.

What jobs can I skip when cleaning a kitchen?

We've already detailed some of the things you can avoid when cleaning a kitchen, such as cupboard doors. But here are a few more:

  • Don't bother rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. But do scrape off any chunks of food – it's not a waste disposal unit.
  • Don't clean the tops of cupboards or tall appliances.
  • Ignore the insides of your fridge, oven, microwave, etc.
  • Don't worry too much about handles – put give your fridge handle a quick wipe, as guests may use it.
  • Curtains, blinds and soft furnishings can be left, but you may want to spray them with a deodoriser if you have time. You can make your own using distilled white vinegar and a few drops of essential oil. 

These top tips will have the job done and dusted in no time. Tidy kitchen here we come.

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.