The frenzy of fall spurs us all back into action with renewed vigor for school, work, sports and activities galore. The kitchen is where we fuel our bodies, minds, and souls during such busy times, so a clean kitchen simply inspires. Now’s the time to spruce it up—before the holidays are upon us, and the kitchen is called into overtime service. Tackle one heavy-duty chore each week, or just focus on those that scream for attention in your kitchen.
Before you get started, assemble your tools:
√ An old toothbrush or small soft-bristled brush
√ White vinegar
√ Dishwashing liquid (Dawn is a favorite for degreasing)
√ Hydrogen peroxide
√ Baking soda
√ Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
√ Furniture polish/spray wax
Optional: Oven cleaner, paper towels and a store-bought degreaser product
Grimy Grout Be Gone!
Every kitchen has “hot spots” that get really grimy because they are not part of a weekly cleaning routine—at least not in our house. Which one to tackle first? Looking around the kitchen, my eyes land on dirty, stained grout. Most of us have tile somewhere; whether it’s on the backsplash or the floor, the tile’s beauty is diminished by dirty grout. While there are several solutions for cleaning grout, the product I have found to work the best is hydrogen peroxide. It really works for me! I buy it in large bottles in the first aid section of the grocery or drugstore. Pour a liberal amount of hydrogen peroxide on a clean rag and apply it to the grout. Wait two to three minutes and rub the grout lines with an old toothbrush that you have dipped in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. You want it to be a thick, soupy mixture so it covers the grout, and stays there, while you scrub it clean. Wipe clean with a damp, fresh rag. A once-over with a mop will help eliminate any residue from the baking soda mixture you’ve applied on a floor. Once your grout is clean, you may want apply a grout sealer, available from a home improvement store or tile supply distributor. These products seal grout for six months or longer, depending upon the product. Once sealed, grout stays cleaner and you can relinquish that cleaning chore for a while.
Tackle the Fridge
How long has it been since you pulled that monster out and cleaned behind it? Grab it on both sides, and walk the refrigerator out so you have a couple of feet open behind it. If you have an icemaker line, be careful not to overstretch it. Once the fridge is clear from the wall, take a clean dust rag and wipe the whole thing down from the top to the bottom. When you reach that nasty grill on the front, wipe away what you can. If you have a strong vacuum, use the brush attachment to suck as much dusty scum off of the grill in the front, and then vacuum the floor behind the fridge and from the top to the bottom of the back of the fridge. Take a rag dipped in hydrogen peroxide and wipe down the grill. If it is still grimy and needs more cleaning, use some Dawn dishwashing liquid and warm water to degrease it. (There are also degreasing products for sale in the cleaning aisle of your grocery store.) Now carefully push the refrigerator back in place and wipe down the front. For stainless steel, a clean rag dipped in alcohol works well. The smudges and fingerprints will disappear! There are also ready-made stainless steel wipes and spray bottle formulas in the cleaning section of most stores. For colored appliances, use warm water with dish soap and a rag to get it clean and streak-free.
Banish Cabinet Grime
Cabinet faces get greasy and dirty over time from cooking oils and spills and need their own occasional thorough cleaning. One good solution is an easy homemade product: Put 12 ounces of Dawn dishwashing detergent and 16 ounces of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Mix well then let it settle until the bubbles reduce. Find a small, inconspicuous spot and test the cabinets to make sure the finish on your cabinets isn’t disturbed. (If your cabinets are old and the finish is soft, you should stick to wiping them down with a mild dish detergent and warm water.) Spray and wipe down one door at a time as you move around the kitchen. This method quickly removes grease and makes this chore a breeze. Once your cabinets are clean, they will benefit from a good polishing. Use your favorite spray wax and a clean white rag to buff them until they shine. Now, don’t they look so much better?
Heat Up the Range Hood
Ah, the range hood…now that is one dirty appliance, if you have one. The range hood, or any type of kitchen vent, catches it all; the grease and splatters from cooking a good meal build up over time. If you have a stainless steel vent hood, grab your alcohol and a clean white rag. Pour the alcohol on the rag until it is lightly soaked and lay it across the top of the hood. Let it sit a minute or two to dissolve grease, then start rubbing away the grease for a hood that sparkles. If your hood is painted, use dishwashing soap (again, Dawn is great for that greasy build up) and warm water on a rag and use the same method. Next up is the filter or screen under the hood. These should be gently removed and soaked in a soapy bath of dishwashing liquid and hot water. Let them sit for 20 minutes in this hot bath, then scrub the dirty spots with your bristled brush. Rinse with clean, hot water and let them air dry before you return them to the underside of your range hood.
What’s Lurking in the Oven?
Last up is the oven. Now’s the time to remove the oven racks and turn on the self-clean cycle. While it is self-cleaning, put the racks in the sink and give them a scrub with Dawn and hot water or your favorite degreaser. Once the cleaning cycle finishes and the oven cools, wipe it out with a rag that is dipped in warm water and a mild dishwashing soap. If your oven doesn’t have a self-clean feature, then open the door, remove the racks and spray it with an oven cleaner. A sweeter smelling option is to clean it with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda mixed into a paste. This takes more elbow grease, but you get a free arm workout and the oven smells great! A good tip for keeping oven spills to a minimum is to pour salt on a spill in the oven right after it happens. This stops the smoke fumes and burning smell of a run-over in your oven. It also makes clean up faster and easier.
Whew! What a series of dirty chores, but now your kitchen sparkles! You should feel accomplished, knowing those hot spots are fresh and ready for action. Kitchens are for living, and that is why we enjoy them so much. All good things, just like all good parties, start and end in the kitchen. Happy cleaning!