Tips for a Sparkling Clean Kitchen
When speaking of cleanliness in the home, there's nothing worse than living with a dirty kitchen. A cluttered, grimy kitchen is depressing and makes you want to stay away. Experts say a messy kitchen is one reason people avoid cooking at home—they simply don't want to face the filth. The disorganization and filth could trick you into thinking you need a kitchen renovation. You don't. Just clean it. There is beauty under the mess.
The Kitchen "Before"
Admit it, a clean kitchen is much more inviting and cheerful than one with dishes piled high in the sink and soiled surfaces. Simple chores like washing the dishes, scrubbing the countertops, and cleaning out the refrigerator will contribute to a tidy, functional work area where you can enjoy cooking and entertaining family and friends. Follow these tips then step back and admire your sparkling clean kitchen. Welcome it back as the heart of your home.
Walls and Floors
Wipe down semi-gloss wall surfaces and your tile backsplash with a mild solution of dish soap and water. For stubborn grime, use a gentle degreaser.
Pull appliances out from the wall and give the floor a good cleaning. Start by sweeping or vacuuming up dust, dirt and food particles.
Laminate and Hardwood
Use specially formulated cleaners for hardwood and laminate floors. Methods for deep cleaning will vary depending on the type of installation and finish on your floor. For pre-finished wood or laminate floors, a microfiber mop will do a sufficient job of cleaning, while protecting the surface.
Do not use a wet mop to clean your hardwood floors. The pores in the wood grain will expand and contract if exposed to excessive moisture, causing peeling and splitting over time. Laminate floors can be lightly damp mopped with special cleaning products.
Your laminate or hardwood flooring manufacturer can recommend products for removing stubborn stains and scuff marks without damaging the finish.
Vinyl and Tile
Extremely dirty vinyl and tile floors can be steam cleaned. However, do not use a steamer if you notice loose grout, tiles or vinyl damage. Water can get trapped under the flooring, resulting in costly damage. In this case, an old-fashioned floor scrubbing or mopping will do the trick—just keep water away from damaged areas.
Avoid harsh, solvent-based cleaners on vinyl floors—they may dull the shine and remove the protective coating. If you buy or rent a steam cleaner, make sure to follow the instructions by the letter to avoid any mishaps or damage.
Cabinets & Countertops
Wash wood or wood veneer kitchen cabinets with warm water and a product like Murphy's Oil Soap to remove grease and fingerprints. You can also use a vinegar and water solution to remove grease buildup. Laminate or thermofoil cabinets can be cleaned with a mild all-purpose kitchen cleaner or soap and water.
Take this time to organize your cabinets as well. Consider installing pull-out shelving to access hard-to-reach cookware, maximizing space with door-mounted racks for pantry and supply storage, and organizing items by use and function. You may not notice these improvements at first glance, but you will definitely appreciate having everything in its place and neatly organized!
Don’t forget to clean the undersides and tops of your cabinets—they are the perfect place for grease, cobwebs and dust to accumulate. Wipe down the insides of your cabinets. Let them air dry and install a wipeable shelf liner.
It's easy to clean laminate countertops. You can use a vinegar and water solution to dissolve grease and spills. If you are concerned about food-borne germs, follow up by cleaning the counters with anti-bacterial wipes.
Try to clean up spills immediately to prevent staining of porous surfaces such as, granite or marble. If you do happen to miss that red wine or olive oil spill, apply a poultice made from baking soda and water to remove the offending stain. Spray the stain with distilled water, apply the poultice and cover with plastic wrap and tape. Let stand for 24 hours and clean with soap and water.
Cleaning appliances weekly with a damp rag will keep hand prints and smudges to a minimum. However, to achieve a super clean kitchen, you’ll need to expend a little more effort and elbow grease. If you are at a loss, it is always a good idea to check your owner’s manuals or call the manufacturer to find out the preferred method of cleaning.
If you have a self-cleaning oven, just follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions. Don’t forget to remove the oven racks before starting the cleaning cycle. For regular ovens, avoid toxic aerosol cleaners and opt for a greener, safe solution. A paste of baking soda and water works wonders for moderately dirty ovens. Apply the paste to all surfaces, avoiding heating elements and bare metal. The next morning, scrape off the paste with a plastic spatula. No more baked foods tasting like oven cleaner!
When’s the last time you cleaned, I mean REALLY cleaned your refrigerator? Well, there’s no time like the present to make it sparkle.
Start by taking out removable shelving and parts. Use a soap and water solution or a mixture of baking soda and water as your cleaner (one tbsp. per quart of water). Soak hardened spills by placing a damp cloth over the area for a few minutes. Then wipe the goo away with a wet sponge or soft bristle toothbrush.
You will need to adjust the thermostat in your freezer compartment during your cleaning session or your cleaning solution will freeze as it comes in contact with interior surfaces!
Wipe the entire interior down with your baking soda and water solution to help remove stubborn odors. Place an opened box of baking soda inside to keep it smelling fresh. Eliminate stronger odors by keeping a small container of activated charcoal on the bottom shelf.
Dirty refrigerator coils are a problem in homes with pets. Clean them regularly to improve your appliance’s efficiency. Use the wand attachment of a vacuum or a static duster to remove pesky allergens and extend the life of your refrigerator.
Wipe down all outer surfaces with a mild detergent and water solution.
Speaking of rarely cleaned appliances, the microwave ranks among the highest. It is the workhorse of the kitchen, but seldom gets a good cleaning. Obviously, the best way to avoid this task is to clean up each time you use it. But for those of us who don’t, give your microwave a regular cleaning using these tips:
Try removing stains and food particles with warm, soapy water (or baking soda a water solution) and follow with a damp sponge to remove any residue. For caked-on messes, heat a bowl of water in the microwave of three minutes and let stand for five minutes. That should loosen any icky messes.
A good going over with baking soda and water will also help remove odors. Wipe the inside with the solution, dry with a soft rag and keep the door open for a few hours. For really bad odors, heat six tablespoons of baking soda, one-half cup of lemon juice and a cup of water on high for three minutes, then leave the door ajar for several hours.
Clean the outer surfaces with a gentle detergent and water mixture. Avoid using abrasive cleaners and sponges. Clean touch pads with a lightly dampened cloth. This will prevent any moisture from seeping behind the control panel. You could cause irreparable damage to the electronic components.
Remove the burners and clean them when they are cool. To remove any remaining residue, set the burner on high and allow caked on foods to burn off. Don’t forget to open the window and turn on your exhaust fan. You don't want to set off the smoke alarm!
Hand wash stovetop pans and grates. Scrub with a soft-bristle plastic brush or scouring sponge. Be careful not to scratch stainless or porcelain-coated surfaces.
Smooth-top cooking surfaces, like glass and ceramic, require the utmost care when cleaning to avoid scratches.
If you go online for advice, you’ll find hundreds of ideas on how to clean these delicate cooktops. My advice is to use caution,when attempting any of these cleaning hints. You may do more harm than good and run the risk of voiding your warranty.
Consult with the manufacturer to find out the best products and cleaning techniques for the job. Always use a cleaning pad that is safe for your type of smooth cooktop and make certain you use it only to clean the cooking surface.
Depending of the type of smooth surface cooktop, various cookware materials can leave telltale rings on the surface above the heating elements. Your best bet is to switch to pots and pans recommended by the manufacturer. If you do happen to develop unsightly rings, use the cooktop cleaner designed for your smooth cooktop and apply daily. Hopefully, the discoloration will fade over time.
The Kitchen "After"
More Kitchen Ideas to Come!
Stay tuned for another article filled with easy ideas to change the look and feel of your kitchen—without the headaches and expense of a renovation!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Linda Chechar