The kitchen is generally the room that accumulates the most filth in the shortest period. Spend a week in any home and you’ll find out why! Cooking sauces, grease, and lime scale on appliances can make keeping on top of the kitchen difficult. On top of that, for some reason guests ALWAYS seem to gather in the Kitchen, which means dirt and mud also tend to gather there. All this combined can create quite the mess, but It doesn’t have to be with a few handy hacks and some incredibly useful cleaning products!
We’ll dive into more of the ‘How’, ‘Why’, and ‘Where’ these products are most applicable throughout the article, but that’s really all you need for a beautiful, shiny kitchen that would make Martha Stewart jealous!
The sink can develop a variety of issues that make it hard to clean. Your sink is where you prepare food, wash dishes, and even dump out garbage if you have a disposal. Therefore, you must keep it clean or stains and odors will develop.
When lime scale begins to form on your sink, you can easily use some plyers, a pumice stone, and half water half vinegar solution to take care of the issue. First, spray the vinegar solution on the limescale build-up and let it sit for about ten minutes. Then wipe it with a rag to see what comes off. If there is any left, you can take the plyers and work them around the mouth of your faucet, where limescale gunk tends to build up the worst. Use a pumice stone (one for cleaning, not for your feet!) to work up limescale in other areas. A toothbrush can help you reach troublesome areas, like behind your faucets.
Sometimes, limescale has been building up for so long that vinegar just doesn’t cut it. That’s when I whip out the big boy: Pretty Potty. Pretty Potty is a strong acid so you must use it with care. Always dilute it with one-part water to one-part acid and always wear gloves. Safety goggles or sunglasses aren’t a bad idea either. Pretty Potty will eat through enamel, so keep an eye on it and wipe it up after only a few moments.
A toothpick is great for getting the build-up around the base of your tap, your faucet handles, and the edges of your sink basic. A lot of dirt and grease tends to get stuck in the sealant around these areas. Gently use a cleaner, such as Kaboom! or even white vinegar, to loosen that dirt. Then slide a toothpick gently under the sealant to get it out.
For stubborn stains in the sink, I like to use Comet or Ajax. Both products work well. They even have spray versions of the powder, which I find to be safer with pets in the house. Spray your sink well and leave setting for fifteen minutes. Then wipe everything off with ease. Alternatively, take your Ajax or Comet powder and heavily powder the sink. Run a little bit of hot water and using a gloved hand, mix the water with the powder to create a thick paste. Thoroughly coat your sink with this paste. Again, let it set for fifteen minutes. The stains and dirt should wipe up easily.
To get your appliances and tap shiny, you can use Windex. I have not had success with any other glass cleaner, not even generic Windex. True Windex will take off water spots and leave your tap shiny. It also works for anything else with a smooth surface in your kitchen, such as the front of your fridge or the metal sides of your oven. Windex works especially well on black or stainless-steel surfaces. To avoid streaks, use a rag folded six times into a tiny square and make neat sideways sweeping motions as your clean, or else use a coffee filter. I know this sounds crazy, but coffee filters are like microfiber paper towels and don’t leave streaks.
If you notice a vaguely rotten odor rising from your drains, chances are there is old food stuck in them. As this food rots, it rapidly makes your kitchen smell more like a garbage dump than somewhere people would want to eat.
Garbage disposals should be cleaned out once a week to prevent this build-up of rotten food. You can buy certain products, such as citrus-scented balls that you pour into your disposal while running water. However, it is cheaper and easier to just use orange or lemon peels. These peels will absorb and cover the rotten food odor. Put a few peels into your garbage disposal and then run some water while running the disposal.
When it comes to drains that don’t have a garbage disposal, the best thing to do is to clean them out using baking soda and white vinegar. These two compounds react together to create a fizzy volcano that will clean out the drain and bring its blockages to the surface, so you can wipe them away. First, pour boiling water down the drain. Then add one cup of baking soda and a solution of one cup white vinegar and one cup hot water. Cover the drains and give it fifteen minutes to do its chemical magic. When you lift the drain caps, you can use hot water to rinse the drains out. You can wipe up any junk that bubbles to the surface as well.
Of course, you can also use something like Draino or sulfuric acid. There is nothing wrong with these products except they are highly toxic. Using them and storing them in your house can pose dangers to your kids and pets. They can even be dangerous to you if you don’t use them with care. Splash-back into the eye can warrant a very serious emergency room visit. I advocate using the more natural and gentle white vinegar and baking soda trick, which certainly works.
To prevent buildup of stinky food particles in your drains, try buying some mesh drain covers. They are available at Walmart and dollar stores. They trap food so that you can dump it into the trash instead of down your pipes. Odors be gone!
Your stove is another site of terrible messes. It is important to keep it clean to prevent fires. Plus, your guests won’t refuse to eat your cooking if they see your stovetop is shiny!
Glass stovetops look nice at first, but after some use, they turn dull and even acquire scratches. The secret to making them beautiful again involves very little elbow grease. First, wipe it down gently with white vinegar. Then cover the entire stovetop with baking soda. Your goal isn’t blending the vinegar and baking soda for a showy volcano of science, so be sure to leave no pools of vinegar behind. Now take an old bath towel and soak it in hot water. Lay it over the stovetop and walk away for fifteen minutes. This should loosen everything stuck to the stovetop. Now you can scrub it and use the mild abrasiveness of baking soda to get it squeaky clean.
If there is any stubborn residual crud, take a razor to slice it up. Finally, polish with Windex. Your stovetop should look like new.
Now if you have an older style of stove with burners, the challenge is getting the burner grates off. These stovetops let you take them off, so figure out how and then either stick them in your dishwasher or let them soak in your sink for a few hours before scrubbing them with dish soap.
Never put ones that are not enameled in your dishwasher. If in doubt, just hand wash them. With the burner grates out of the way, you can start working on the burnt crud and grease inside the burners.
It’s a lot like the method above. Create a paste of baking soda and warm water and coat your stove with it. Twenty minutes should be enough to let it get the crud up. Now wipe it away, using the baking soda to scrub. A scrub brush can be especially helpful here, and old toothbrush can help you get down into little crevices.
When it comes to grease on other areas, I find various cleaners work well. White vinegar is great, but I also love Kaboom!
Kaboom! is purple or blue when you spray it on. Let it set until it turns white and then wipe the grease away. Another great cleaner would be LA’s Totally Awesome Cleaner, but it has ammonia so only use it in a well-ventilated area with no bleach products. Grease usually wipes up pretty well on its own, but if it is particularly old or baked on by heat, you will need to let it soak with whatever cleaner you have selected. Often you will find soaking for twenty minutes or more is enough to get that crud softened.
The inside of your oven can be a horrendous nightmare of burnt crud that you can’t get up, no matter how long you scrub. The key to good oven cleaning is soaking that stuff off. Then, maintain the oven with at least weekly cleanings.
Self-cleaning ovens are a great invention…until they stink your house out. I prefer to use another method. You guessed it, baking soda and white vinegar! Do you see how those two are the single most important staples of your kitchen cleaning regimen?
First, remove everything from the oven, even the racks. Use a bowl with a cup of baking soda and six tablespoons of warm water. Work into a paste with your gloved hands. Then smear that paste all over your oven.
Let it sit at least twelve hours. The easiest way to do this is to do it overnight, when you’re not going to need to use the oven. This gives the soda time to work up the crusty, burnt mess inside of it.
While you’re letting it soak, you can clean your oven racks. The easiest way to do that is to let them soak in your bathtub with some dish detergent and hot water for at least four to six hours. Now you can scrub them clean quite easily with a sponge. Rinse them in the shower and they’re good to go!
Now back to the oven. Wipe out what you can. You will find that the baking soda paste has dried into hard scrims here and there, so tackle those by spraying on white vinegar mixed with water. The two will react and foam up, making it easy to wipe them out. They will carry any grease along with them. You may need to scrub a little longer on some areas. A pumice stone can help you in places where the gunk is really baked on!
You might wonder, “I though you said this guide was for lightning fast cleaning? How is letting my oven soak for twelve hours lightning fast?” You got me there. The truth is, it is nearly impossible to clean your oven out extremely fast. It’s probably the most time-consuming part of your cleaning routine. However, bear in mind that your oven doesn’t have to be cleaned that often.
Also bear in mind that if you need to speed things up, you can do a quick clean by spraying a chemical oven cleaner all over the oven and then scraping up the gunk with a razor. You can also use your handy pumice stone if needed. This method won’t get your oven as shiny or clean as the longer method, but it can do in a pinch.
Fill a bowl with one cup of water and one cup of white vinegar. Set your microwave for ten minutes while you go do something else. When you return, you can wipe the microwave out with a sponge. The little splotches of sauce and other food coated on the insides will come right off. Wash the glass spinning wheel like a regular dish every week or so as well.
Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be blasted in the face with the smell of vinegar every time I open my microwave. Therefore, I like to blast it with a bit of Windex after the vinegar treatment. I use the Windex to make both the inside and outside spotless.
The true secret to a clean microwave is simply wiping it out after using it, when the food splashes are still warm and soft. It is far easier to clean if you just maintain it. You can also buy a microwave cover for cheap, which is basically an inverted bowl you can put over your food while it cooks to prevent splashes. Wash the cover like a regular dish and you’re set with a clean microwave.
Fridges are easy to clean when you wipe up spilled sauce or blood right away. But they quickly turn more difficult as this crud is allowed to accumulate and chill, congealing all over your nice white shelves. It can also get hard when this stuff oozes under the glass, resulting in a huge stain that is hard to reach.
The best thing to do is to empty your fridge. This is an ideal time to go through your groceries and throw out whatever is so far past its expiration date that it is producing that vague stench. Now, with the fridge empty, use your cleaner of choice (white vinegar anyone?) and spray it all over your fridge. Let it sit a little while or even make a baking soda paste for the stubborn caked-on spots. Then you can wipe it out. I find working from the top is easiest so that anything you kick up will drop below, allowing you to get it as you navigate to lower reaches of the fridge.
Take the drawers and the glass separators out to get to the farthest reaches of your fridge. Let them soak in the sink with hot water and dish soap. Scrub them out until they’re squeaky clean when you have finished the rest of the fridge.
Now is a good time to mention the restaurant organizing hack. This hack helps keep your food safer to eat and your fridge easier to clean. The secret is to store your meat on the bottom, since it tends to drip blood. The bottom shelf or drawers are best. Try to store meat in sealed Tupper ware, or at least wrap it double in plastic. Don’t just leave it in its paper packaging or cellophane packs from the store. Next, have a vegetable crisper in the middle of the fridge, or store them on the middle shelf. Put leftovers in containers, dairy products, and prepared foods on the top shelves. A similar dynamic can be used for your freezer.
Ah, yes, the freezer. How can you clean out the freezer? On a week when you have few frozen goods left, be sure to eat them down and don’t buy any more so that your freezer can be empty. Turn it off and let it thaw out. This may not be the best idea if your freezer is full of ice, but if it has a drain in it, all that water will drain out. Now use dish detergent and hot water on a dish rag to wipe it out.
A cool hack is to line your shelves and drawers with paper towels. They will catch the stains and blood and other liquids. Then you just peel them out, wipe the area with vinegar solution or even bleach, and then replace with new paper towels. Another hack is to use suction-cup containers on the open wall spaces of your fridge to store food in, which you can simply remove and wash with your other dishes when they get dirty.
The most efficient dishwashing hack involves doing your dishes as you make them. That prevents things like cheese, oatmeal, and sauce from hardening into cement and it prevents odors from accumulating in the kitchen. You also won’t have such an overwhelming mess to do later. Try to get your whole household on board with washing out a dish as soon as it is used.
However, I understand that this doesn’t always work. Your family or roommates may never get on board. And you might not have the time to wash dishes as soon as you make them. In that case, try to set aside fifteen minutes a day for dishes. Be sure to put water in bowls with food remains that could harden, such as oatmeal, and let them soak until you are able to wash the dishes. Throw salt onto greasy dishes to take the grease off.
Don’t just throw your dishes into the sink, or your sink and drains will get disgusting. Use a dirty dish bin hidden within the sink. A plastic one is fine. Stack the dishes neatly and put soaking ones on top so the water doesn’t slosh out. This keeps dishes from tumbling and breaking. When the bin is full, it’s time to wash!
To start, remove the dirty dish bin from the sink. In one sink, wash them really well. A scrubber that holds your dish soap in its handle (sold at most stores) can come really in handy. Be sure to use really hot water and gloves to protect your hands. In the next sink, dip them in a bath of hot water. Be sure to change the water as soon as suds get thick on the top. If you have a dishwasher, you still want to wash them beforehand because dishwashers tend to fail at getting tough spots out.
After you run your dishes or finish washing them, use a spritz of white vinegar to remove any water spots you may see. This also works on removing spaghetti or salsa stains in plastic containers. Then wipe them dry with a microfiber rag. Have a dish drainer with a cloth or mat underneath to catch water before it runs all over your counter, ruining things and leaving big water spots. Finally, you can use an oven rack in your oven as an extra drying rack for big things like pans that take up too much space on your regular rack.
Arrange your kitchen so the dishes are nearest the sink. That way, you can just put them away once they are dry without having to walk across the kitchen.
I generally clean up messes every day, but I only do my deep cleaning once a week. This helps me maintain a clean house. Set aside a time each week to do your whole house, including the kitchen. During this deep cleaning day, don’t forget some of the most overlooked parts of kitchen cleaning.
Using a broom, get behind your fridge and oven. You can usually pull these appliances out with ease. A lot of cobwebs build up behind them, and mold can collect there on food that falls into the cavities. You can increase the health of your home by cleaning this regularly.
Don’t forget to make a pass at the top of your fridge with bleach solution or vinegar solution as you clean off your counters. Also, don’t forget to quickly wipe down the fronts of your cabinets and drawers, where things like sauces tend to drip down and get stuck in hard, colorful tracks. If these sauce tracks are sticky or hardened, just spray them with some vinegar solution and then rub baking soda on them. Let them set for ten minutes and then wipe the tracks right off.
Grease tends to splatter up and collect under the hood of your oven and on the walls around it. This is where baking soda paste or even Kaboom! can come in handy. Just spray the area, let it set, and wipe the grease up. You often can’t see under the hood of your oven so just do your best.
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