Easy-to-Clean Kitchen Design Tips

Instead of buying more cleaning supplies, use these smart ideas to design your way to quick cleanup times.


Visions of high style, not low maintenance, drive kitchen remodeling projects. However, be realistic: It's going to get dirty. To minimize the mess, consider these features to add at the design stage:

A tight triangle.
A good work triangle -- the arrangement of the cooktop, sink, and refrigerator -- will minimize the distance you have to carry things. It's the carrying that often leads to spills. An island can often compensate for a poor work triangle.

Flowing floors.
The fewer seams and gaps in your floor, the fewer places dirt collects. The dirtiest place in any kitchen is the seam between the floor and the vertical toe-kick. That can be eliminated by "rolling" the edge of the floor up to the toe-kick, replacing the right-angle joint with a smooth curve. This technique is easiest with vinyl, linoleum, and tile, but it's also possible with wood if you have the edge pieces custom-milled. Ceramic tile flooring is beautiful but needs constant attention. It obligates you to a daily sweeping. To make tile look cleaner, use large squares with narrow grout lines.

Grime-fighting cabinets.
Cabinets that have flat doors with a baked-on finish are easiest to clean. Painted cabinets with a high-gloss finish show dirt, but they're easy to wipe down. Stained cabinets with a flatter or no-gloss finish don't show dirt as much, but they're more easily marred and harder to touch up. Raised-panel doors and elaborate molding around cabinetry look nice, but they are more difficult to clean. When your fingers are greasy, pulls and handles keep the mess off the cabinetry surfaces. Look for hardware that makes it possible to open doors with one or two fingers. Cabinet and drawer inserts can also assist with cleanup.

Counter-sink connection.
Undermount sinks make it easy to wipe messes from the counter right into the sink. Self-rimming sinks, by contrast, can collect dirt. Perhaps the best solution, if you have the budget for it, is an integral sink in which the bowl and surrounding counter are one large piece of the same material, typically solid-surfacing or stainless steel.

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