Cleaning tasks in the kitchen can pose the greatest challenge if neglected for very long. The key here is to stay ahead of the mess with quick daily cleanups; a more thorough weekly cleaning; and deep cleaning at least twice a year.


Daily: All dishes and cookware should be rinsed and cleaned. To make washing easier, soak pots, pans, and dishes with baked-on or stuck-on food in a dishwashing liquid solution. Then, the same detergent and a white nylon scrubbing pad is all the power you're likely to need for cleaning them up.


A dustpan and brush are handy tools to have around for sweeping up daily collections of dry crumbs. Once crumbs are out of the way, damp wipe the table, counters, and stovetop. Unplug any countertop appliances you've used and give them a damp wiping to remove any stuck-on food. A second wipe with a dry dishcloth will help prevent streaks, particularly on reflective surfaces.

Toss food scraps in the trash or down the garbage disposal (or, better yet, compost them). Take out the trash every day, and operate the disposal at least daily. This alone will go a long way toward keeping insects, such as cockroaches, at bay. Rotting food is also an ideal place for bacteria to multiply. Why give these bugs the chance to be so close to your family?

Finally, give the floor a quick sweeping. Crumbs and food scraps will inevitably land there every day.



Weekly: The main task here is degreasing surfaces. Airborne grease and steam from cooking combine with dust from the air to form grime on appliances, cabinets, walls, and countertops. Most water-safe kitchen surfaces can be damp-wiped with a sponge or soft cloth pre-sprayed with an alkaline all-purpose cleaner.

Well-known brands are good degreasers. But you can also mix up an effective home brew -- a mild solution of water and dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. Two or three drops of detergent per pint (475 ml) of water should be plenty. You don't want to leave soapy residue behind. It will only attract more dust and grease after you're done.

This is also a good time to maintain the under-sink food disposer and the dishwasher if you have these appliances. Run a strong stream of cold water, turn on the disposer and grind several handfuls of ice cubes to degrease the grind chamber and drain line, and to sharpen the blades. Next, remove the empty lower dishwasher rack to inspect the filter -- some have two -- which will be located at the bottom of older machines. (Many newer models have automatic food-disposal grinders, so the filter may be self-cleaning.)

If there's lots of food in there, remove the filter and "backwash" it in the sink under a stream of tepid water to push the food scraps back out in the direction from which they arrived. Use a brush or old toothbrush to dislodge any stubborn particles. Replace the filter and rack. This is also a good time to check the holes in the spray arms to be sure they aren't clogged.

The insides of most cupboards shouldn't need special attention on a routine basis. Dust and grease can't get in there if the doors are kept closed most of the time. The exception is the cabinet storing the wastebasket. Remove the bucket, sweep out the bottom with a brush, and damp wipe and dry weekly.

This is also a good time to dump out the crumb trays in your toaster and toaster oven, since these appliances tend to leave a wide swath of crumbs on the counter if they overflow. Once everything else is done, sweep and damp-mop the floor.



Deep cleaning: Deep cleaning involves all of the above plus the following tasks. These jobs are covered individually elsewhere in GCL-Pedia because of the specific approach needed for each kitchen component. They include:




Don Aslett in The Cleaning Encyclopedia: Your A to Z Illustrated Guide to Cleaning Like the Pros.


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