March 2, 2024
This Bartending Trick Leaves My Kitchen Sparkling 24/7

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Even though it’s been years since I bartended, I still have a few tips and tricks from my days behind the bar that have followed me home. You can tell that a smoothie (or piña colada) is perfectly blended as soon as you peer into the top of the blender and see a nickel-sized hole has formed in your creamy drink, like the eye of a tornado; and rolling limes around on your countertop before you slice into them will yield more juice for your margs. But perhaps one of the very best habits I picked up from my bartending days is the “closing shift” cleaning routine, which has recently been getting attention on the #CleanTok side of TikTok. 

When I bartended, my coworkers and I thoroughly closed down the bar each night, wiping down sticky bottles, re-stocking coolers, and polishing the bar top so it sparkled. You never wanted to be the subject of blame should an opening bartender come into a disheveled bar, grunting “Who closed last night?” Then, she’d have to not only clean up from the night before, but also do all the prep work that goes into setting up the bar, which includes filling up ice wells, cutting lots of fruit, and making mixes.

At home, I practice a similar closing shift to appease the opener (i.e., my future self; I live alone). Seeing dishes piled up in the sink or cluttered countertops in the morning feels a little overwhelming to me, so I like to bang out a “closing shift” each night. In this TikTok video, user @yourgirlabbey jokes about the closing shift not doing their job and having to pick up the slack in the morning. Extremely relatable!

I set a timer (usually for 10 or 15 minutes) and race the clock to get everything cleaned up before I wind down for the night. My closing shift usually includes loading the dishwasher, cleaning my pans, wiping down the countertops, and washing out my water bottle (I’m on team Owalla Free Sip). Even though I’m a pretty messy cook that does so-so on cleaning as I go, I still can knock out this chore quickly — and it’s much less labor-intensive than shutting down an entire bar (with achy feet, no less). 

What Experts Think About the “Closing Shift”

Therapist Risa Williams, LMFT, is a time management consultant and endorses a tool she calls “cleaning round-up,” which is a short round of putting stuff away as you close out the day so that you can transition into rest mode. 

“It doesn’t have to be a heavy-duty cleaning process at all,” she says. “It’s important to see it as a nightly ritual that helps you set yourself up for an easier time in the morning in order to make this habit stick. In this way, we can help our future self by clearing the deck and making space to focus on things in the morning.”

A closing shift can also be satisfying, says San Francisco-based therapist John Clarke, LPCC, because throughout the day we’re “exposed to a lot of feedback loops that can’t be closed.” For instance, a home repair project that’s stalled, a task at work you’re waiting for approval on, or simply a conversation where you’re “left on read.”

“It can often be these little things like working the closing shift that satisfy our brains in a deep, deep way, giving us a sense of completion and finality around a situation,” Clarke says. “On top of this, it is the knowing that, despite all the many unknowns of life, we will be walking into a perfectly clean kitchen tomorrow; that is naturally very satisfying and anxiety-relieving.” Think of it as a gift to your morning self. Trust us — the experts said so.

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