Clean Your Kitchen

Clean your kitchen.

No matter its size, the kitchen is hub of the home. Keeping it clean and inviting doesn't have to be difficult. You can start small and work your way up, or do it all at once for a great sense of satisfaction. Here's how to completely clean your kitchen.

With the plan outlined here, you begin and end at the kitchen sink.

Clean the Kitchen Sink

Give yourself an accessible work area by washing, drying and putting away the dishes in and around your sink. When your sink is clean, you'll be motivated to keep working.

Clean Kitchen Surfaces

You can work wonders in your kitchen by first tackling the following:

  • Clutter. Everything in the kitchen needs a place. If you're not sure where it belongs, put it in a box. Everything that you've used from the box in one week's time can live in the kitchen; store the rest elsewhere.
  • Counter tops. Always follow the manufacturer's guidelines for your surfaces. You can safely wash most countertop or backsplash surfaces with mild dish soap and water. Do not use harsh abrasives or steel wool unless you're sure it won't scratch them. An old toothbrush is a great tool for cleaning joints, grout, and corners.
  • Small appliances. It's easy to neglect the toaster, coffee maker, microwave and other countertop items. Take just a few minutes to wipe them with a damp cloth or cleaning wipe to make them shine again. You can steam clean that grungy interior of the microwave: in a microwave-safe container, heat one cup of water for 3 minutes, then let it sit for a few more while the steam loosens the grunge and then wipe the interior clean.
  • Large appliances. The outer surfaces of the refrigerator, stove and dishwasher are grime catchers. For the easiest cleaning, remove all detachable items — magnets, knobs — and clean the surfaces with mild dish soap and water (remember the top of the fridge!). For best results, rinse and dry them, too. On textured surfaces, a melamine foam sponge does a great job of cleaning the peaks and valleys.For tougher jobs, mix a paste of a baking soda and water — it's safe on most surfaces and removes stains, odors and cooked-on grime. Stoves with radiant cooktops have special cleaning requirements if they have baked-on glop. For cleaning instruction, see your owner's manual, which you can download here.
  • Floors. Remove mats and then vacuum, or sweep with a broom or an electrostatic mop to eliminate large particles. Remove scuffs with a pencil eraser (who knew?). Your floor type determines how you mop, but in general you can use water on glazed tile, vinyl, linoleum, and hardwoods with a polyurethane finish. Don't use water on hardwoods sealed with lacquer or shellac. Before using a floor cleaning product, read the label carefully to make sure it's safe for your floors.While you're at it, take a quick swipe around the baseboards with a damp cloth. Shake out, vacuum or wash your mats, and return them to their newly cleaned home.

The Big Jobs

You can tackle these jobs less often, but may have to use a little more elbow grease:

  • Refrigerator. First, remove all the food, throwing away expired products and temporarily putting the rest in a cooler. Remove shelves and drawers and put them in the sink or bathtub to soak in hot, soapy water. Using a solution of baking soda and water, clean the interior, including the rubber seal and door handle. Every few months, unplug and roll out the refrigerator, and then vacuum the coils with the brush attachment and clean the floor underneath.Wipe, rinse and dry the well-soaked shelves and drawers, and put them back in the refrigerator. Finally, put back the food. Include a fresh, open box of baking soda to capture future odors.
  • Oven. Have a self-cleaning oven? Simply remove the racks and run the cycle. When the oven has thoroughly cooled, vacuum the interior with the brush attachment and wipe it clean with a damp cloth. For faster results, you can instead use oven cleaner that's safe for a self-cleaning oven — but never use oven cleaner during a self-cleaning cycle. To clean the oven manually, remove the oven racks and spray the interior with oven cleaner. Wait the recommended time and then wipe the oven clean.
  • Walls and cabinet doors. Use an all-purpose grease-cutting cleaner and a lot of rags. To check that the cleaner won't compromise the finish, first clean an inconspicuous spot first, especially on paint. For highest efficiency, clean top to bottom and with the grain of the cabinets. A toothbrush might be helpful in removing grime in the cabinet crevices and/or around the pulls.

Attend to the Details

Wipe light switches, outlets, doorknobs, and drawer and cabinet pulls. Clean the windows and windowsills, and even the light fixtures.

Clean the Kitchen Sink (Again)

Finally, return to the sink. Clean and disinfect your sink with the cleaning agent of your choice. Include the sink bowl, on and around the faucet (an old toothbrush works well) and the drains (use a toothpick around the rims). Rinse it well, and most importantly, dry it with a clean towel. The sink will look new. Congratulations! Relax after you clean your kitchen.

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