We all like to think we keep a clean kitchen, but would you want to submit yourself to a food safety inspection like a restaurant undergoes? Probably not. And while we’re not saying you have to go overboard with your kitchen cleaning, chances are you could improve the level of sanitation in your home.
Likewise, while cleaning a kitchen might not seem like something you need to put much thought into, it’s a task worth doing properly. If you follow this guide, you’ll end up with a cleaner, safer kitchen and spend less time and effort to get it!
So, without further ado, here’s our comprehensive guide to cleaning your kitchen!
Don’t forget the sponge
According to recent studies, your kitchen sponge is one of the dirtiest things in your house. That’s counting the bathroom! You can read all about what scientists found lurking in the average kitchen sponge over at NPR (https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/09/11/548926054/can-you-really-not-clean-your-kitchen-sponge). What you need to know is, your kitchen sponge is pretty gross. And while you probably don’t clean it now, you should!
There are any number of ways to clean kitchen sponges, like boiling them in a pot of water for 10 minutes. Other people try to spray them down with something that sanitizes. Don’t bother with that method, since it doesn’t penetrate into the core of the sponge.
The quickest, most effective way to do the job is to run it through your dishwasher on a sanitizing wash/dry cycle. Short of that, get it fairly wet (but not dripping) and blast it in the microwave for 1 minute. That will kill the vast majority of bacteria on the surface and in the core.
Whichever route you take, make sure to do this at least weekly. It’s a simple but important step to take to keep your kitchen safe and healthy!
Cleaning a microwave without elbow grease
Microwaves get dirty very quickly, and they’re a pain to clean out by hand. You have to wash all the walls, which usually have stuck-on bits of food. Then there’s the rotating tray, and the tracks–it goes on and on.
Thankfully, there’s an easy way to clean your microwave without slaving away scrubbing bits and pieces all day. All you’ll need is a bowl/measuring cup (microwave-proof, of course!) of vinegar (2 tablespoons) and water (2 cups).
Add a toothpick–this’ll stop things bubbling over or exploding at you (this can happen when you microwave water in a totally smooth container. The smooth surfaces don’t allow bubbles to form, so the liquid erupts when jostled. It’s quite rare, but this simple trick solves the problem. Bubbles will form around the toothpick).
Stick the bowl in the microwave, and then run it on full blast for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, dismiss it without opening the door. Let the steam work for a little bit before you do your scrubbing, so as to make your life easier.
Once you’ve steamed it all thoroughly, open the door, use potholders to remove the bowl, then wipe things down with paper towels. It will all lift off easily. Steam also sanitizes, so you don’t need to use any kind of chemical cleaners with this approach.
Boil away your drain issues
There are all sorts of reasons kitchen drains clog. In a bathroom, the culprit is usually hair. With your kitchen sink, it could be anything from peelings to old rice. Thankfully, anything that goes down the kitchen drain is usually organic matter. It’s easy to break down with the help of the good old elements!
First of all, you should be using a good drain collector/strainer basket in the bottom of the sink. That’ll nab all the big stuff before it even gets a chance to go further. It’s your first line of defense against clogs.
Use boiling water to maintain your drain, too. This is a good way to clear a clog if you have one, and it’s also something to do regularly as a preventive measure. If you have a clog, boil a big pot of water and pour it directly down the drain. 9 times out of 10, that’s all you need to do. The heat will blast through whatever’s in the way. Worst case scenario, follow it up with baking soda and vinegar. Job done!
Don’t skip food safety steps
Keeping a clean kitchen isn’t just an aesthetic concern. It’s a matter of basic safety and sanitation.
Always sanitize the sink and countertops after you’ve dealt with raw meat or eggs. Be sure to do faucet handles, etc. Anything you touch with uncooked meat juices/egg on your hands should get a quick spray and wipe down with a sanitizing cleaner and paper towels.
Never use wood cutting boards for meat, either! We know, wood is so much nicer than plastic. But keep one plastic (i.e. nonporous) cutting board around for meats.
Not only will all this keep you safe from dangerous bacteria, but you’ll reduce smells, odors and other grossness.
Want to be at the cutting edge of sanitation? Check out our reviews of the best touch-less kitchen faucets here!
Cleaning a fridge like a pro
Your fridge doesn’t have to be a nasty place, and it never will be if you follow these simple steps.
Make fridge cleaning/reorganization part of your grocery routine! As you’re making your shopping list, do a quick inventory of what you’ve got. Go through and empty your produce drawer of anything past its prime. Get rid of anything else that’s gone bad or which you know you’re not going to finish.
When you’ve eliminated the extras, take things out shelf by shelf. Sanitize the surfaces, and wipe them down thoroughly so you’re not leaving any moisture behind.
This is best done weekly, but we know that not everyone gets groceries that often. If you get groceries sporadically, make sure you’re doing this once a month.
Make sure you use a trash can that closes securely. That’s the only way to keep mice, ants, and flies from becoming a problem.
If you’re throwing away meat/fish packaging or scraps, tie up and take out the trash bag there and then. If you don’t want to do that, use a gallon ziplock bag for the suspect items. Otherwise, you’re asking for maggots and flies in your kitchen.
Spray down the trash can with sanitizing cleaner each time you empty the bag(or straight vinegar, which works as well as most cleaning solutions!) to kill bacteria and cut through odors.
Ants, mice, and flies are the most common kitchen pests. They’re easy to avoid if you’re careful to put in the preventive work up front.
Keep honey/maple jars in ziplock bags. Ants can get in under jar lids like magic, and bags are the only way we’ve found to keep them at bay.
Don’t leave things like flour or rice in paper packaging. Mice will go right through them. Always use solid containers that seal, either plastic, pyrex, or jars. Paper is no match for mice. Ziplock bags won’t even stop them if they smell grains inside!
Make sure you keep pantry items in closed cabinets that you’ve checked thoroughly for mouse entrance points. It’s not just annoying to have mice in the kitchen: it’s dangerous. Hantavirus and other potentially deadly diseases are spread by contact with mice. If you find evidence of mice, sanitize thoroughly, and use gloves. Place any droppings and paper towels in a ziplock bag. Seal any gap in your cabinetry or kitchen baseboards, no matter how small!
Never leave spills, messes, or dirty dishes
Any of the above is a siren call to attract pests. Address them right off so that nothing is drawn to your kitchen.
Make a routine and stick to it
The best way to keep a clean, safe kitchen is to make all the key cleaning tasks part of your regular routine. Here’s a weekly and monthly checklist to follow:
Wipe down countertops
Sanitize contact areas
Wipe down stovetop
Sanitize sink and wipe out thoroughly
Launder kitchen towels, potholders, etc.
Wipe down hood over stove
Wash/sanitize your drying rack
Fronts of appliances
Any molding and shelves
Clean out drawers and cabinets
Empty toaster drawers and clean trays/racks to prevent burning
Make your life easier
The following are simple things you can do to save time cleaning.
- Keep a washable tray on a shelf at the lowest slot in your oven to catch drippings and prevent fires
- Use a washable mat/rug in front of the sink
- Use drawer liners if you want to save yourself the trouble of scrubbing out
- Keep items in organizers that can be removed and cleaned easily
What to use
Seventh Generation sanitizing cleaner
This is our all-purpose secret weapon. Seventh Generation makes plant-based, non-toxic cleaning products that work better than any of the harsh chemical options. They don’t leave any harmful residues on food surfaces, and they sanitize as well as bleach. This all-purpose product is our go-to in the kitchen. Use it to sanitize surfaces, loosen stuck-on messes, and anything else you need to do.
Seventh Generation recycled paper towels
You probably already have a favorite kind of paper towels, but seeing as you’re here, we thought we’d introduce you to ours. These Seventh Generation ones are all recycled fibers, and the most ethical you can buy. They’re also nice and sturdy, so you can scrub your stovetop without them falling apart.