5 Spots You’re Forgetting to Clean in the Kitchen
The grimy spots you might overlook when spring cleaning.
Countertops, check. Stainless appliances, check. Oven, sink, stovetop, check-check-check. When you’re running through your checklist while cleaning the kitchen, you may not even realize what you might be missing. Do a deep clean at home this spring, and be sure to add these spots to your list.
The Splatter Zone
We clean the countertops often enough when they get showered with grease while cooking, but the out-of-sight and out-of-mind areas that we usually forget about?
- the underside of upper cabinets
- inside of our vent fan
- light fixtures and bulbs that are in the vicinity of the cooking space
- and the sides of the counter that butt up against our oven and range (inevitably the most ignored spot in my home, shown below)
Wet a cloth with grease-cutting dish soap, wring it out, and wipe down all affected areas. You’ll find that it’s easier to get the area around the stove if you slide the appliance away from the wall (it’s probably on wheels and should easily pull 3-4’ off the wall without having to unhook the gas lines or electrical, although be aware of how all attachments are expanding and unfolding at all times so nothing becomes pinched.
Remember how much dust was on the floor beneath and behind your fridge last time you pulled the unit away from the wall? Bet you didn’t remember to clean the coils at the same time. First, make note of where your fridge coils are located. They might be behind the unit, but they could be fitted beneath it, accessible by a small grate across the bottom front. There’s a chance that covered coils may affect the fridge’s efficiency.
Wherever the coils are, get them in your line of sight. Pull the fridge away from the wall and unplug it. Keep the doors closed so your food doesn’t begin to warm up. Set up your vacuum with a detail attachment, and with the vacuum running to pick up the floating dust, use a small paintbrush to loosen any debris that has collected on the coils.
Fridge Drip Pan
While you’re cleaning the fridge, take note of the tray that exists to collect condensation when the freezer defrosts. The pan is almost always located at the bottom of the fridge, and regardless of make and model is often accessed behind the front grate or kick panel at ankle height.
When you locate the pan, pull it out towards you like a baking pan you’re sliding out of the oven. Don’t be alarmed when you see water, that means it’s doing its job (otherwise the water would drip all over the floor), but do note if the tray is slimy or presents with mold spots. Those spores can circulate in your kitchen, and you’ll want to sanitize the drip pan a couple of times a year to keep it clean, more often if you have sensitivities to allergies.
Also? Check the drip tray below the ice and water dispenser on your refrigerator door. Stagnant water can breed mold in there too if it isn’t monitored.
Cleaning the outer facing door of the dishwasher is natural – but that’s not where it really counts. Inside the dishwasher itself, you’ll want to clean the interior walls, the sliding racks, and the inside of the door, because all can get covered with residue over time. The drain at the bottom of the dishwasher deserves special attention, especially if the food that rinses off the plates and bowls gets clogged in the drainage area; gross, I know. I like using a diluted vinegar solution in a spray bottle to clean the space, and if you have a bit of dried food debris sitting around the drain, use the wand on a vacuum to remove it.
Also pay special attention to the interior edges of the door and the folds in the rubber seals. They get extremely grimy, and when the build-up becomes substantial it will affect the dishwasher seal. That said, if you think your dishwasher is broken because a few drops have escaped the machine during its cycle, you may want to do a deep cleaning on the seal first before resorting to a repair man.
We use our toaster oven daily, and usually multiple times a day. While most items that cook within the oven are contained either on a metal baking sheet or in their own baking container, the toasts and waffles and miscellaneous items that are best handled flat on the racks are quick to leave a mess.
When tending to your toaster oven, open the door completely and remove the drip pan at the bottom of the unit. It catches bread crumbs, cheesy drips, and inevitable saucy splatters. Wash it, rinse it, dry it. While it’s out of the oven, and with the oven unplugged, use a damp cloth to capture any crumbs that fell beyond the boundaries of that tray, or slipped off when you were extracting the tray from the oven. Allow the inside of the oven to air dry. You’ll also want to use this opportunity to use some grease-cutting soap to clean the inside of the toaster oven door – for a spot that you think never touches the food, it sure does seem to get sticky and splattered.
Vinegar is by far one of the most versatile cleaning agents. Use it to remove soap scum from the shower. Mix it with borax to get rid of hard-water rings in the toilet. Tape a bag of vinegar to your showerhead and leave it overnight for an easy, sparkly clean; or add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to your dish soap to eliminate grease in the kitchen.
You use your toothbrush to clean your teeth, but don’t forget about cleaning your toothbrush. Let it soak in hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes to get rid of any lingering germs. Hydrogen peroxide is also useful on many hard surfaces. Use it to scrub your toilet, trash cans, shower, mirrors and doorknob. You can even mix it with equal parts water for a safe and effective solution for mopping the bathroom and kitchen floors.
The acid in lemons makes them a great natural cleanser. The juice is great for disinfecting kitchen countertops and cutting boards. Cut a lemon in half and scrub your bath and shower to remove soap scum. And if your shaving cream has left a rusty ring in your bathtub, use your lemon half to scrub it away.
Do you have a mold and mildew problem in the bathroom? Skip a trip to the store, and pull out some inexpensive vodka from the liquor cabinet. Spray it directly onto the mold and mildew, and wait 15 minutes. Then use a cloth or small scrubbing brush to wipe it clean. And don’t forget to save a little for an after-cleaning celebration!
More than a favorite beverage, brewed tea can be used to clean windows, mirrors and countertops. Spray on your bathroom surfaces just as you would any typical window or surface cleaner. Then, keep your bags to hide in the back of the fridge. They will actually work to deodorize it. And if you need to remove the scent of onion, garlic or fish from your hands, cut a bag open, and wash your hands with the leaves to remove the odor.
Remember that miracle lemon that cleaned the tub? If your dirt stains are particularly stubborn, add some salt to the lemon, and scrub the surface of your bathtub, sink or toilet. Once your salt solution has done the trick, just rinse off any pulp and leftover residue, leaving your bathroom perfectly clean with a lemon-fresh scent!
Perfect for cleaning counters, sinks, drains, the toilet bowl, soap scum, shower doors, showerheads, and well, pretty much anything in the kitchen and bathroom, baking soda is one cleaning agent you don’t want to be without. For most kitchen and bathroom surfaces, a simple paste made of baking soda and water will do the trick.
Though it is not a natural cleaning solution, exactly, a drain snake is an eco-friendly way to clean out the main source of drain blockage: hair. And if you don’t have a drain snake, you can still avoid pouring harsh chemicals down the bathtub drain by unwinding a wire hanger, hooking the end, pushing it down the drain as far as it will go, and pulling up hair that is keeping the water from draining properly.