The Very Last Thing You Should Do Before Closing That Trash Bag

published Dec 16, 2022
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Someone removing a full bag of trash from a kitchen garbage can. wood paneled wall in the background
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Anna Surbatovich

Maintaining a kitchen is not a straightforward undertaking. It’s a never-ending keeping-at-bay of messes that threaten to take over if you get even a little lax with your routines. One of the reasons it’s so tricky is that there are so many moving parts. The pantry has to be stocked and orderly. Cooking tools need to be accessible to keep everything flowing smoothly and to avoid frustration. The fridge needs to be in order so that everyone can see and use food before it goes bad. And all of that doesn’t even touch on the other things that tend to happen in the kitchen.

Routines and habits that break down big responsibilities (like making sure there are enough clean dishes at every meal) into bite-size chores (like running the dishwasher every night and unloading it every morning) make it possible to keep the kitchen humming without too much thought. 

Tying particular tasks that are easy to forget to other chores that you have to do is another way to ensure that you don’t inadvertently create a bottleneck in the heart of the home. For instance, I like to empty the dishwasher while I wait for my coffee to brew and wash any dishes in the sink while I wait for the microwave to beep. 

There’s another very important and easily overlooked chore that can be tied to a task that you’re definitely doing pretty regularly: clearing out your fridge just before taking out the trash. 

Making it a habit to scan the fridge for items that are no longer good — leftovers you forgot to eat, parsley that went bad because you didn’t use it in time, that last bit of heavy whipping cream that’s now expired — means you won’t have to make cleaning out the fridge a whole separate to-do. 

Plus, by looking in your fridge for items that need to be tossed just before you take the garbage out, you make use of that last bit of space in the trash bag. Additionally, and more importantly, you avoid filling the garbage can in your kitchen with spoiling foods and avoid the unpleasant odors that go along with that!

Adopting this new habit into the way you function in your kitchen makes space in your fridge, keeps it fresh, and cuts down on smells in the kitchen. There’s not a single thing not to love.