Spring Cleaning the Kitchen
Ack! Spring cleaning the kitchen can be such a big job that it can tire you out just to think about it, much less do it. But, if you have a strategy, a plan, and the right tools, it doesn’t have to be so bad. This includes a great music mix, podcast, or audiobook to keep your mind distracted while your hands work and a dust mask for protection.
Executing a strategy allows you to accomplish quite a bit in just a few hours.
Kitchens get dirty and greasy no matter how much you clean them during the year. The thought of deep cleaning even a small kitchen can be overwhelming. So, just think of your kitchen in zones or blocks. Tackle them one at a time. In addition, think of each major appliance (such as the fridge or stove) and the pantry as a block. I recommend you just start in one corner and work your way around the room following the general strategy of top-down.
By the way, deep cleaning your kitchen doesn’t require a ton of supplies if you use just a few all-purpose cleaners.
Cleaning The Oven
To start, if you have a self-cleaning oven, this is the time to remove the racks and get the cleaning cycle started. If you don’t have a self-cleaning oven, and it isn’t too heavily soiled, you can apply your cleaning solution now. If the oven is really heavily soiled, it is best to let the cleaning solution sit overnight.
Electric ranges. If your electric oven/range has drip pans remove them first and soak them in the sink with hot water and House Wash. If you don’t have a glass top range, the top should lift for cleaning. Look for a groove on the side or front of the range and lift. Most open to a little less than a 90-degree angle and have a holding rod to prop the top open for cleaning. You can use your steam cleaner to clean this area, staying away from the area where the heating elements mount. If you don’t have a steam cleaner, use a solution of House Wash and water to remove the grease and grime.
If your electric range has a glass cooktop, use a steam cleaner, vinegar, and baking soda to remove any cooked-on food or gunk. Just spray with diluted vinegar, steam, and let sit for 5 or 10 minutes. Sprinkle on baking soda, scrub with a microfiber cloth and rinse. Repeat if you have stubborn stains.
Gas ranges. Most modern ranges have removable grates and griddles. If these aren’t heavily soiled, you can run them through the dishwasher. If they are heavily soiled, soak in the sink with hot water.
Vent hood. No matter what type of range/oven you have, you’ll need to clean the filters in the vent hood. If your vent is incorporated into the bottom of your microwave oven, then remove the filters from the microwave oven. Let these greasy, gunky vent filters soak in the sink in a mixture of very hot water.
Clean the Cabinets. Even in the kitchen, you still want to start at the top and work down. Beginning at the first “block” start by cleaning the tops of the wall cabinets and any exposed wall above the wall cabinets in that block.
Sprayers, spray your solution on, and wipe. Bucket types, wipe down with a clean sponge or rag. If you have knick-knacks or other dust catchers on the tops of the wall cabinets, this is the time to take them down and wash them off. After the tops of the upper cabinets are cleaned, then wash the inside and outside the door of the cabinet.
Next, remove all contents from the cabinet. This is also a good time to sort and decide what to keep and what to discard. Invoke your inner Marie Kondo and ditch those items that no longer “spark joy”.
Wipe down the interior of the cabinets and inspect shelf coverings. If they need replacing, do it. After all, everything is out of the cabinet! Return contents to the cabinet.
Now, for that block, clean the backsplash. If you have a steam cleaner like the Vapamore MR-100 Primo Steam Cleaner, this is the time to put it to work. Steam the backsplash to clean away grease, grime, food debris, and whatever else has collected there since you last deep cleaned! If you don’t own a steam cleaner, then it is elbow grease time to clean the backsplash.
After the backsplash in your “block” is cleaned, then clean the countertops. Once again, if you have a steam cleaner, it makes the job really easy. I steam clean my countertops with the microfiber smooth floor attachment. The steam loosens soils and sanitizes at the same time. If you use the House Wash solution to clean down the countertops, rinse them thoroughly, and (this is how I did it in the pre-steam cleaner days) then spray them down with Vital Oxide to sanitize.
Next, if there are any cabinet drawers in this block, now is the time to empty the drawer and wipe down the interior with your House Wash solution. I also like to give them a light mist of Vital Oxide.
Clean any drawer inserts, inspect any drawer linings and return contents to the drawer. This is of course after you have sorted through to see if anything can be discarded, recycled, or donated!
Now for the base cabinets in your block. Follow the same procedure as for the wall cabinets. Wash the inside and outside of the cabinet door with your House Wash solution. Remove all contents and sort, discarding as necessary. Clean cabinet shelves and inspect linings and replace if necessary then return the contents to the cabinet.
If at any time in this process your block contains those dreaded plastic tubs and containers and their associated lids, take the time to play the matching game. Ensure all your plastic container bottoms have a top and every top has a bottom. Toss those lonely hearts who have lost their mate.
The same goes for drawers or cabinets holding your table linens. Ask yourself, will you ever use the stray napkin that lost all its friends? Really?
Spring cleaning is also prime time for culling your herd of baskets. I don’t know why, but if I put a beautiful straw bread basket in one of my kitchen cabinets and close the door, by the time I open that cabinet again the basket will have either multiplied by division or invited all its friends over. Suddenly a basket morphs into a cabinet full of baskets. Go Marie Kondo on those baskets and other such items. Its time to sort and discard/donate.
Once you get to the bottom of your block, be sure to wipe down the base of the cabinet and clean the area where the base joins the floor. So many “things” fall into that crevice over time!
Clean the Pantry
When you get to the pantry, start at the top and tackle one shelf at a time. This is a time to inspect cans for bulging seams and dents. Discard any questionable items. Sort through dried spices (you know they don’t last forever don’t you?) and toss old teabags.
Inspect the linings on the shelves and replace them as necessary. Wipe down shelves and return contents. I also like to take my vacuum cleaner and vacuum the floor and corners of my pantry when I Spring clean the pantry. Wipe down the pantry door before you close it and call the pantry finished.
Clean the Refrigerator
When you get to the fridge follow the same process as the pantry, and tackle one shelf at a time. Most appliances have removable shelves and bins. Unload these and take them to the sink and wash them with hot soapy water. Rinse and set to drain while you clean the interior walls of the fridge. After I finish cleaning my fridge, I like to spray down the surfaces with Vital Oxide to disinfect. Naturally, I don’t do it with food in the fridge!
Repeat the Process
Follow this process as you work your way around the entire room. First, clean the outside of the cabinet or drawer, then remove contents and clean the inside, sort contents and discard unessential, return contents, and then move to the next block.
Finish by Cleaning the Floors
Once you have cleaned every block and re-assembled the stove and reinstalled hood filters, it's time to finish by cleaning the floor. Use the crevice attachment on your vacuum to clean cracks between the floor and cabinets.
Move the fridge and oven (if possible) and vacuum behind and under them. Use this opportunity to vacuum off the coils on the back of your fridge. Clean coils cool more efficiently and will save you money. Then fire up the steam cleaner and deep clean that floor.
Pay particular attention to the areas close to the stove and fridge as these are where most food spills happen. If you don’t have a steam cleaner, mix a strong solution of House Wash and hot water and add about 1/4 cup Vital Oxide to sanitize as you mop. Make sure to get every nook and cranny and rinse your mop frequently.
Once the floors are finished, grab the phone and order take-out. I mean that kitchen is so clean you wouldn’t want to cook in there would you?