Whether you're entertaining for the holidays—or you don’t like spending more time in the kitchen than you have to—a few smart cleanup tricks can speed up the process.

If you adopt good habits now, you’ll be ready to face the aftermath when you host your next dinner party. Here are some ways to make cleanup a bit less laborious:

1. Get Organized
Precious minutes are lost looking for misplaced items and uncluttering countertops so that they can be used for meal prep. Try to put things close at hand. Cutting boards and sharp knives belong near the food-prep area.

Check your cleaning supplies, make sure you have some stain removers on hand, and stock up on paper towels (Bounty DuraTowel was tops in past tests).

2. Clean as You Go
When preparing your meal, wash dishes, cutting boards, knives, and other equipment as you go. Don’t stack dirty dishes or glasses on the counter; put them in the dishwasher immediately. Rinse wineglasses and put them aside to hand-wash at another time. (Find out how to remove white haze from your good glassware and dishes.)

Visit Consumer Reports' 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more. And be sure to check our Daily Gift Guide.

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3. Choose a Speedy Dishwasher
The downside of more water- and energy-efficient machines is a cycle time that can approach 3 hours.

Some models are quicker, such as the Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7[5]UC, $700, which took a relatively brisk 95 minutes in our tests; a 30-minute cycle works for lighter loads. Many dishwashers offer a shorter cycle.

"If you have lightly soiled dishes, you can use the quick wash cycle," advises Larry Ciufo, who oversees CR's dishwasher tests. "For example, if you need your appetizer plates for dessert, you can wash them on the short cycle while you're eating dinner."

4. Skip the Prerinsing
Most modern dishwashers can handle a load of dirty dishes. You’ll save time, and you could reduce your household’s annual water consumption by as many as 6,500 gallons.

5. Let All-Purpose Cleaners Settle In
Manufacturers of all-purpose cleaners often make “spray and wipe” claims. But based on our tests, letting them sit for a few minutes results in better cleaning power, which could save you time in the long run.

In past tests, the top-rated spray cleaner was Seventh Generation Natural All Purpose Cleaner. But our top-rated cleaner overall, Pine-Sol Original liquid, was the only one that didn’t leave streaks behind on a mirrored surface.

6. Clean Smoothtops Quickly
Cleanup is easy with smoothtop cooktops. But food that contains sugar, such as tomato or caramel sauce, can bond with the glass if you let it cool. So clean up spills right away.

For routine care, use a cleaner made especially for smoothtops. Cerama Bryte and Cooktop Magic combine value and performance in our lab.

7. Consider a Small Vacuum
Small vacuums can’t deliver the deep carpet cleaning of a regular vacuum, but they’re perfect for collecting cereal, crumbs, and other surface debris from the kitchen floor.

One of the best models in our tests was the Shark Pet Perfect II SV780 hand vacuum, $60. For a stick vacuum, consider the lightweight Dyson V6, $300, or the slightly heavier Shark Rocket DeluxePro TruePet HV322, $135.

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