Clean, De-Clutter, And Organize Your Kitchen

Home cleaning and organization tips, focusing on the kitchen.

Although thoroughly cleaning and organizing your kitchen is a huge job, it also is very rewarding. The benefits of your work will be apparent every time the sun shines through the window and sparkles on your polished appliances, as well as every time you reach into a cupboard and find the right size lid for your plastic container without having to fumble around.

The secret to successfully completing a project of this magnitude is tackling it in segments. Looking at the entire job can be overwhelming. Instead, concentrate on one task at a time.

Begin by cleaning your appliances. For the most part, you'll need only a few products to clean your whole kitchen. A solution of an all-purpose cleaner such as Mr. Clean in a bucket of hot water will work on nearly everything. For really dirty spots, you might need an abrasive cleaner such as scouring powder. To give metal surfaces a shine, window cleaner works great. When choosing an all-purpose cleaner, the most important thing to consider is the cleaner's ability to cut grease. Kitchens get greasy, and dirt sticks to grease. Also, be careful when using abrasive cleaners. They do scratch. If you have new appliances, follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning products.

Open your refrigerator and freezer doors, turn the appliance off, and take out everything. Pile the food in your bathtub; the frozen food will keep things cold while you are working. (Don't use the kitchen sink. You'll need access to the sink and water.) Take out drawers and bins in your refrigerator and fill them with a weak solution of cleaner and warm water. If the shelves are removable, take them out, too. Use one of the drawers as a bucket and wipe down all inside surfaces and all shelves. Rinse the bins and shelves, and put them back in place. Before putting your food away, wipe off sticky containers. Throw out food that has passed its expiration date. Put the food away, turn the refrigerator back on, and shut the doors. Finally, wipe down the exterior.

If you are lucky enough to have a self-cleaning oven, turn it on and go on the next aspect of your cleaning project! If not, spray the interior with oven cleaner. Put newspaper under the door to catch any brown goop that might leak out. While it is working, give the exterior a good scrubbing with a grease-cutting cleaner. Use window cleaner to give the oven window and metal surfaces a nice shine. When the oven cleaner has worked for the recommended time, wipe out the soft goop. After wiping with dry paper toweling, wipe again with wet toweling to get rid of any cleaner residue. If you have a vent above the stove, remove the screen and soak it in a solution of grease-cutting cleaner and very hot water in a sink or tub. Rinse thoroughly.

Next, open your microwave and peek inside. Chances are, it is coated with at least a few remnants of mini explosions. To make the spots easier to remove, boil a cup of water inside the microwave for several minutes. Leave the door closed and let the steam loosen the particles. Then, wipe off all surfaces.

To freshen your dishwasher, pour some lemon juice into the bottom of the dishwasher, then run it through a cycle with hot water. Use a toothbrush to clean around and under the door trim. Once again, pull out the window cleaner to give the exterior a nice shine.

Now that your appliances are clean, it's time to tackle the walls. Ideally, the walls should get a good top to bottom cleaning occasionally. Using your all-purpose cleaner in a bucket of water, sponge down the walls. Begin at the bottom to avoid streaks. If a complete wall washing is more than you can handle, concentrate on the greasy area above and around the stove, and the wall areas behind the sink and countertop. These are the areas that are likely to get dirty fastest.

Don't forget the ceiling. Because cooking grease in the kitchen rises, it will accumulate on your ceiling. Use a mop to wipe it down. Ceiling fans are notorious grease and dust collectors. Wipe down the light fixture, if it has one. Use a dry paper towel to wipe dust off the blades, then use a grease-cutting cleaner.

Now it's time to tackle the floor. Although you may mop regularly, deep cleaning demands that you pull out your stove and refrigerator and scrub under them, too. Be careful when pulling out the appliances. If you are not a strong person, ask for help to avoid straining yourself. Also, take care not to disturb connections to the stove. When pulling out the appliances, be aware of how the appliance is moving across the floor. You don't want to scratch your floor or rip vinyl tile.

Now, take everything off your countertops and away from your sink. After wiping down all surfaces, put only the things you use every day back on the coutertop. Find another storage spot for little-used items. They just create clutter. While you're in the area, scrub your sink. Use a toothbrush to clean around the faucet and handles. After it is clean, rub it with a little lemon juice to give it shine.

Now that everything looks sparkling clean on the outside, it's time to open the cupboard doors and take care of the mess in there. The best way is to simply take out everything. When the shelves are empty, wipe them down with a solution of warm water and all-purpose cleaner. Now, divide this part of the job into two parts: food cupboards and cupboards for dishes. Go through the food that you took out of the cupboards and throw out anything that is old or stale. Spices don't last forever. If you question whether they are good or not, it's probably best to toss them. Put all the remaining spices into a shoe box or plastic organizer to keep the little bottles from becoming lost in the cupboard. Envelopes of seasoning mixes and powdered drinks also are best put into a box. Seal opened bags with a spring-type clothes pin or put into zipper-seal plastic bags. Don't leave anything unsealed. You are just asking for spilled messes and inviting bugs.

Now, on to the dishes. First, toss out things you never use, and put seldom-used holiday dishes into a high cupboard. Leave the easily accessible shelves for things you use every day. Match up all lids and plastic containers. When you're done matching them up, throw out anything that doesn't have a mate. You're never going to use it. Put a shoe box on the shelf next to your plastic containers, and put all the lids in there. When you have found a place for everything, close the doors and wipe them down with your all-purpose cleaner. Give wooden doors a once-over with furniture polish.

Finally, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, sit down at the kitchen table, and enjoy your immaculate kitchen.


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