For the past year, you and your family have been hunkering down at home, avoiding a global pandemic. Besides the Amazon lady and various food delivery drivers, your house has been closed to the public. Your kitchen is a disaster area after being used for virtual school for the past six months, the dirty dishes seem to proliferate faster than you can take care of them, and your stainless appliances are portraits of grimy fingerprints and caked-on ice cream smudges. It’s daunting just to know where to start, much more so to realize this project might take you several hours or perhaps even a few days.
With the pandemic blurring the lines between school, work, and home, it’s challenging to feel like you have time for anything. As one of Washington’s long-time kitchen remodeling contractors, we have picked up some handy hacks for you to get that kitchen sparkling and sanitized again within the hour.
Some of these Things …
Just don’t belong in your kitchen. Clear the table, floors, and countertops of everything that’s out of place – work stuff, bills, books (except cookbooks), your kid’s toys, the dog brush, etc. Be sure to take out the garbage, too. If you live with another person or persons, enlist their help. Put things that don’t belong in the kitchen in a box or basket and out of sight. Putting everything away where it DOES belong is another project for another day. Stay focused on your kitchen.
Load and Soak
Next, it’s on to the sink. Load the dishwasher and start it, then fill the sink with hot soapy water and put non-dishwasher and hard-to-clean items in to soak. Also include the things you don’t regularly clean, such as the glass microwave turntable or the stove’s ceramic racks. Scrubbing that casserole dish with caked-on food from last night’s dinner is difficult and time-consuming. Let soap, water, and time do the work for you. When you get back from cleaning the other areas in your kitchen, the food will slide off easily.
Now that you can see your table and countertops again, it’s time to spray them all down with a general-purpose or specialty cleaner. If your countertop is granite or another specialty material, use the cleaner that’s formulated for it. Include the stovetop in this rotation, as well. Let the cleaner do its work and move on to the next task.
Fridge Refresher Course
Take a closer look at everything in your refrigerator and remove anything that’s leaking, expired, growing something, or looks otherwise unappetizing. Throw the dirty food containers in with the rest of the dishes soaking in the sink. Moving from top to bottom, use a general-purpose cleaner to wipe down each shelf and inside the drawers.
Just like with the refrigerator, start at the top as you continue to clean. Dust off the tops of the cupboards and fridge, knocking down debris, cobwebs, and anything else that’s up there. If some get on the countertops and the floor, no worries, as those will come last. Don’t forget air vents, light fixtures, and other nooks and crannies on the way down.
Everybody knows that your sponge is where most of your kitchen germs tend to congregate, so it’s vital to knock those out before using it. Put the wet sponge in the microwave and ‘cook’ it for two minutes. Meanwhile, take a microfiber cloth, dip it in the soapy water, and use it to wipe down the top cabinet doors and handles. When you’re done, take the sponge and wipe down the inside of the microwave. Now it’s time to circle back to the table, stovetop, and countertops. Use the same sponge to wipe those down. Anything particularly crusted on or sticky should now come off pretty easily.
Use the same microfiber cloth to wipe down the lower cabinets and appliances. If you have stainless appliances, we find that a good stainless steel cleaner and polish works better than a regular all-purpose cleaner to take care of all those ugly smudges. Now that you’re back at the sink, your soaking dishes are ready to be cleaned easily and quickly. After you’re finished, drain the sink, sprinkle it with some baking soda, and gently scrub. Rinse and spray with vinegar to sanitize. Whether the sink is stainless or ceramic, the baking soda and vinegar combo will make it sparkle.
Fresh Air, Naturally
There still might be some lingering odors in your kitchen, even with the dishes clean and the garbage empty. Forget the fake air fresheners, though. The smells of last night’s enchiladas and artificial Ocean Breeze don’t mix very well. The best way to get the heart of your house smelling fresh again is to keep the window open for about 15 minutes after cleaning. If the smell seems to be coming from your disposal, run the water and drop some fresh lemon rinds in while it’s grinding. Or, if you don’t have lemons, baking soda and hot water, with a cup of vinegar to rinse after works, too.
Finally, just a quick run-through with the vacuum and a mop jet, and your kitchen is once again pristine and ready for visitors.