When it comes to cleaning, your kitchen is one of the more high-maintenance rooms in your home. It usually gets more use than other rooms and it’s where food is stored. Food containers spill, perishables expire, packaging leaks. Since your food prep takes place in the kitchen, keeping this room clean should be a priority.
Good kitchen hygiene calls for action beyond the routine chores that make up your regular cleaning regimen. Periodically, time should be made for cleaning inside the refrigerator, food pantry cleanup, cupboard reorganization, and oven cleaning. The frequency with which you tackle these chores will vary depending on your kitchen usage.
Cleaning the Refrigerator
Keeping the refrigerator clean is a two-step process. The interior should be regularly inspected for old food that needs to be discarded as well as any spills that ought to be cleaned up. Old food shouldn’t be allowed to sit until it’s rotten, so establish a system to periodically take a look for anything that needs to be tossed out. If you notice an odor, look for the source immediately.
Wiping out the fridge should also be done as often as is necessary. Crumbs and food spills ought to be dealt with before they become part of the landscape.
It might help to establish a routine whereby you clean the refrigerator just before you go food shopping: dispose of old food, quickly wipe out the fridge, then restock.
Oven cleaning is another job that you shouldn’t procrastinate doing for too long. Oven messes only get worse each time you use the oven.
When you need to clean the oven, it’s a good idea to use the self-cleaning cycle with caution. This feature heats the oven to a high temperature, burning off any messes. The process usually produces smoke and fumes.
If you’re using the self-clean cycle, remove the oven racks before you start and clean them in your kitchen sink using a degreaser like dish detergent and warm water or all-purpose cleaner. Also wipe up whatever you can from inside the oven with a rag or sponge. Because the cycle gets so hot, any puddles or solids left inside the oven will incinerate, producing a lot of smoke.
It’s best to stay out of the kitchen when you’re using the self-clean cycle. Open a window or use your stove’s vent fan to allow for ventilation of fumes.
After the oven cools, wipe away the ash residue from the oven walls and floor and replace the racks.
If you’d rather not use the self-clean feature, here are other methods for oven cleaning:
~Use commercial oven cleaner, following the instructions on the package. These types of cleaners contain strong chemicals that do the work of loosening baked-on gunk and are only slightly less noxious than the self-clean cycle.
~Heat your oven to 150 degrees and then turn it off. Place an ovenproof bowl containing about a cup of ammonia inside and leave it overnight with the door closed, then wipe your oven surfaces clean the next day using a cloth or sponge dipped in warm water and dish soap (don’t use this method on gas-powered ovens).
~Place an ovenproof bowl containing two cups of water and two cups of vinegar into the oven, and heat the oven to 400 degrees for a half-hour or so until you’ve got a good steam bath going. Turn off the oven and allow the steam to work until the oven cools. Wipe the oven clean with dish detergent and warm water.
To prevent oven spills in the first place, put a cookie sheet under anything that might bubble over and cover anything that might splatter. If anything does spill on the bottom of the oven, sprinkle some baking soda on the spill and let it sit overnight, then wipe it up the next day. Or sprinkle table salt onto before it sets up (hardens) and wipe it clean when the oven is cool. Cleaning messes as they occur will help extend the period between oven cleanings.
Clean Out Cupboards
Another kitchen job that should be done regularly is cleaning up any food spills in cupboards. It’s never a good idea to let spilled food hang around; even stuff like dry pasta or flour can attract bugs or other unwanted visitors. Any open boxes or containers can spill, so keep an eye out for messes and take care of them ASAP. If you have a bread drawer or box, keep crumbs cleaned up. An alternative to wiping up flour or similar loose, dry spills is to vacuum them up
Also, periodically, remove food packages and cans from cupboards, dust out the cupboards, and replace the food, reorganizing as you go. This gives you a chance to get into the backs of cupboards to scan for expiring or expired food as well as to eliminate dust and reorganize so you’ll know what you have.
While you’re at it, dust and reorganize cupboards and drawers used for storage of food containers, cookware and tableware. This allows you to match up the tops and bottoms of containers and pans that always seem to end up in distant corners from one another.
Keeping a clean and well-organized kitchen promotes safe food storage and decreases the likelihood of attracting unwanted visitors to your pantry. It also simplifies your life to have a handle on your kitchen inventory. The best payoff to taking good care of your kitchen is peace of mind that your kitchen is clean and stocked with food that’s safe to eat.
Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.