Your Ultimate Guide to Deep Cleaning a Kitchen
20-Minute Fridge Refresh
Set a timer for 20 minutes, then follow our quick three-step plan, below, and use our printable speed-cleaning plan to stay on track.
- Take everything out of the fridge. Check the expiration dates and toss anything that’s expired, then wipe down the shelves, walls, and drawers with a sponge dipped in hot, soapy water. Quick tip: to deodorize, wipe down the walls a second time with a paper towel dipped in a bowl of diluted vanilla extract.
- Organize everything by categories and place party essentials so they’re easy to reach. Stock the door shelves with drinks you can grab quickly. Keep the vegetables and cheeses you plan to serve as appetizers near each other. If you know that guests will also be bringing dishes or drinks, be sure to leave a space open for them.
- Wipe down the door using a soft cloth dipped in soapy water. Be sure to wipe a stainless steel door in the direction of the grain.
Sanitize Your Microwave Touchpad
Your microwave’s touchpad likely isn’t on the top of your speed-cleaning checklist, but it should be. According to Elizabeth Scott Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at Simmons College in Boston, it’s one of the top five spots to clean after meal prep because it can easily become cross-contaminated.
With the microwave door open, wipe the touchpad with a cotton ball dipped in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Then dry with a microfiber cloth. Not only will the surface look cleaner, but this quick one-minute tip could help keep your guests healthy.
Declutter Your Counter
To declutter this area quickly, start by removing any appliances you don't regularly to use, like the toaster oven, and hiding them in a cabinet. Also move any decorative items to a cabinet or even to another room. Place essential cooking tools, like spatulas and spoons, in a holder, and use a tray to corral items you reach for again and again, such as salt and pepper shakers.
Replace Your Water Filters
If you haven’t replaced the water filter in your fridge or kitchen faucet for a year, you may not notice that the water no longer tastes fresh.
Speed-clean the Stovetop
Get your stovetop sparkling clean in three easy steps.
- Remove the grates and knobs and spritz them with a degreaser. Let them soak for a few minutes, then wipe with a wet sponge to make sure no residue is left.
- Wipe away crumbs with a damp paper towel. Soak cooked-on gunk with warm soapy water and let sit for five minutes before scrubbing with a non-scratch scouring pad.
- Replace the grates and knobs, making sure the “off” markings are correctly aligned.
Quick-Clean Your Cast Iron
To season your cast-iron, coat the skillet in cooking oil and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.
Unfortunately, you shouldn’t soak a dirty cast iron skillet (the water can cause it to rust), but that doesn’t mean you need to spend an hour scrubbing. Rather than resort to dish detergent (which can strip the seasoning off the pan), grab this $3 scrubber instead. It quickly scraps off cooked-on food. We also recently discovered The Ringer, a stainless steel pan scrubber. In our test, it cleaned even the dirtiest of skillets in less than three minutes.
Organize the Pantry
Similar to an organized fridge, a decluttered pantry will make meal prep much easier. To speed-clean your pantry, set a timer for 15 minutes, then jump in on the plan below.
- Move the trash can near the pantry. Take everything out, and throw away anything that’s expired.
- Using a cloth dipped in hot, soapy water, wipe down sticky jars, cans, and shelves. Using a handheld vacuum, clear away crumbs.
- Organize everything by categories, and be strategic about placement. Everyday items like snacks and lunch essentials should be kept on the middle shelf, while light paper goods belong on the top shelf. Before the big party, leave extras you might likely reach for (paper towels and plastic cutlery) in an easy-to-reach spot. Go through the menu you have planned and gather all of the pantry ingredients in one area.
Deodorize Your Garbage Disposal
The trick to making sure a garbage disposal smells fresh is probably already in your fridge: citrus. Add pieces of lemon, orange, lime, or grapefruit peels to your disposal while running the hot water. The fresh citrus will help deodorize the disposal, while the running water will flush out an lingering bits of food.
Deep-Clean the Floor
If you sometimes skip washing the kitchen floor during your weekly cleanup session (no judgment here), now’s the time to play catch-up. To make the most of your speed clean, be sure to choose the best method for the type of flooring you have. For a vinyl floor, mix up a solution of ¼ cup vinegar, one drop of dish soap, and warm water in a 16-ounce spray bottle. Spritz the floor one section at a time and wipe with a damp microfiber mop. If you have a natural stone floor, ditch the vinegar (the acid can harm this surface), and stick with a microfiber mop and hot water.
If you really want to make a good impression on your in-laws, use a steam cleaner to remove both stains and bacteria. This $32 machine does the work for you, so you won’t have to spend hours scrubbing grout.
De-Stink Your Dishwasher
When the appliance is empty, place a cup full of vinegar on the top rack and run a wash cycle. For a light citrus-y scent, you can also try placing a lemon wedge in the cutlery container before running a wash cycle.
To load the appliance efficiently, brush up on these smart dishwasher loading tips. Did you know that to get plates cleanest, they should face toward the center rather than all in one direction? Also try varying the direction forks and spoons are placed, with some facing up and others down, to avoid nesting.