4 Steps to a Clean Kitchen, Fresh Start
Most of us make a daily effort to keep our kitchens and food preparation areas fairly clean and tidy. But if you think your kitchen is really clean, you may have to think again.
There are literally dozens of places in your kitchen that are rarely touched in those regular mop-ups, and these areas can detract from the overall appearance and function of one of your most-used rooms. The solution: a kitchen deep-clean.
Every kitchen could use an intense scrub every couple of months, but don't let that daunt you. Follow this strategy, and your cleaning day will be as painless as it is productive.
1. Clean out your kitchen cabinets.
The kitchen typically is the focal point of most household activity, and therefore accumulates a number of items that don't necessarily have any business being there. Grab a box or bag, and fill it up with any items — such as books, electronics, and mail — that belong elsewhere.
Once the obvious miscellany are removed, empty all the cupboards and drawers. As you remove dishes, glassware, cookware, and gadgets, separate out any pieces that are damaged or infrequently used into another pile for repair, donation, or trash.
Give your pantry's contents a quick once-over, too. Throw away any items past their expiration date, and donate anything you won't eat to the local food pantry.
Before you move your curated collection back in, wipe down all the cabinet interiors and shelves with soapy water. A diluted vinegar spray is ideal for pantry shelves, since its main ingredient is both non-toxic and anti-bacterial. Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel, then line the shelves with paper for a more visually streamlined appearance.
Finally, fill up your cabinets, making sure the things you use the most — and those closest to expiring — are the easiest to reach.
2. Say goodbye to grime and grease.
Cooking inevitably leads to a sticky buildup of food particles and grease on your cabinets, walls, and countertops, so once you've dealt with the interiors, turn your attention to the exteriors.
-- Wipe down all surfaces with a kitchen degreaser, then polish the wood and metal with an appropriate polish.
-- Remedies for splotches and stains vary depending on the countertop material. If yours is a wooden butcherblock counter, for example, remove stains with a solution of one teaspoon of lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide per two ounces of water. For laminate, treat stains with a baking soda and water paste. In any case, stick with soft cloths and sponges to avoid scratching up your surface.
-- If you have a tile backsplash, scrub the grout lines with lemon juice and salt to get rid of stains and discoloration; rinse with warm water.
3. Give your appliances some extra TLC.
The surfaces of your fridge, oven, and dishwasher tend to get completely covered in fingerprints, smudges, and germs over time. Start by cleaning their exteriors using the cleanser recommended by the manufacturer. Then target each appliance individually.
--Clear your stovetop of any burners and move them to a bucket or sink full of warm, sudsy water while you wash the surface where they sit. Don't forget to wipe down the front, sides, and knobs, too. Soapy water works for a light cleaning, but if you need to scrub off a stain, mix equal parts water, baking soda, and salt into a mild abrasive paste and let it sit on your spill for a few minutes. Apply the paste to any splotches on the stovetop, then wait a few minutes. Use a little elbow grease to rub off the spot, and wipe away the paste. Rinse and towel off the grates before you replace them.
--You'll have already wiped the worst off the outside of your dishwasher, so freshen the inside by running a couple of almost-empty loads while you work in the kitchen. First, fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with 1 cup vinegar, place it in the top rack, and run a full hot-water cycle. Then remove the bowl, sprinkle a cup of baking soda over the bottom of the appliance, and run it on a short hot-water cycle.
--Wipe down the garbage disposal. Run a few pieces of cut citrus fruit through the garbage disposal to kill any stench, followed by a rinse with boiling-hot water. Even if you don't have a disposal, at minimum wipe down the tub of your sink, faucet, and knobs. Then flush any potential clogs from its drain with a half-cup baking soda and a half-cup vinegar.
And don't neglect small countertop appliances in your deep-clean:
--Toaster: Remove the crumb trap, brush away any food particles, and wipe down the exterior.
--Microwave: Nuke a bowl full of water and cut lemons for 10 to 15 minutes so their steam soaks away all the burnt-on food bits. Wipe the interior clean with a damp microfiber cloth.
4. Finish with the floor.
While wiping down every last surface in your kitchen, you've likely knocked more than a few crumbs to the ground. That's why it's best to end your deep-clean with a good sweep or vacuum.
Grab your dust-busting instrument of choice, and zero in on the collection along baseboards and heating registers. Use a lightly damp mop and an appropriate cleanser for your flooring to wipe up.
Send soiled towels, oven mitts, rugs, and curtains through the wash and replace.
Return your cleaning supplies to their homes.
Then wash your hands of all the hard work in the fresh sink in your bright, shiny kitchen.