Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen

The Ceiling and Tops of Cabinets – Starting from the top of your kitchen, remove cobwebs with a broom or dust mop. Be sure to go over the tops of moldings, cabinets and light fixtures. Depending on your light fixtures, you may need to remove glass holdings and wipe them out with Windex. This would also be a good time to replace light bulbs including fluorescent lights. If you have knick knacks or other decorative or kitchen items on top of cabinets, remove them and clean underneath them using a broom, dust buster or dusting cloth. Wash the items using detergent and a sponge or cloth to remove any dust or grease. The kitchen is an extremely greasy place and grease tends to cling on any object, including those close to the ceiling. Spring cleaning is a great time to remove the grease that has accumulated the last year. Depending on the item mild detergent, cleaning solutions such as Fantastic or 409, or Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser will do the trick. If you are washing fragile items such as glass or other keep sakes, simply let them soak in your sink with some warm water and detergent before wiping down. This will help lift the grease without using harmful chemicals on precious keep sakes. If you find you need something stronger, try some baking soda with warm water. This would also be a great time to wash mirrors and windows. If you really want to go all out, remove the screens and place in your bath tub (unless it is a really warm day; then, window screens can easily be washed using the hose in your yard and allowed to air dry on the lawn or patio).

Walls
Next, move on to the walls for your spring cleaning. You may not realize just how dirty and greasy your walls are, especially those nearby the stove. Before using any cleaning solution, test a small area to see if it will remove your paint. I have found the best products for cleaning grease off walls is Fantastic and a soft sponge. Hard to remove grease, finger prints and marks such as crayon are easily removed with Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser, which works wonders. If you want to go really crazy, use a clean mop to wash the ceiling, especially above the stove to remove the grease that has no doubt attached itself.

Plants
Spring cleaning would be a good time to spruce up plants kept in the kitchen. Using Swiffer dust cloths is an easy way to remove dust from your plant’s leaves without harming your plant. Don’t forget to wipe down flower pots to remove dust and grease from them as well. While you are at it, fertilize your plants to get them ready for their blooming and growing period. Miracle Gro plant sticks are wonderful and easy to use: simply insert a small stick, the number of which to use depending on the size of your pot and water. The package will provide you with a guide of how many you will need for your plant. Some plants may even enjoy a shower in the tub for a few minutes. This will clean off any dust and give your plants a good dose of water that can help perk them up after the long winter. Remember to let them dry off for a while before putting them back on your counters or shelves.

Cabinets
A cleaning solution such as Murphy’s Oil is wonderful for finished wood cabinets and will leave them with a beautiful shine and clean smell and once done with your spring cleaning, will leave you feeling satisfied with a job well done. For other types of finishes, wipe down your cabinets with a cleaning solution such as Fantastic. Thoroughly clean all small appliances kept on the counter and wipe with a dry cloth so as not to leave streaks and cloudy residue, especially if you have stainless steel appliances. Using a sponge and some detergent will do the trick.

If you have some time and want to really do a major spring cleaning, start with one cabinet and remove everything inside of it. Wipe down surfaces with Murphy’s Oil or other cleaning agent and allow to dry. This is a wonderful time to get rid of those things you really don’t use or need and donate them to a local emergency shelter or other charitable organization. Check your pans and pots. If they are damaged, dispose of them. Pots and pans that have scratched or peeling surfaces should be replaced as the material will end up in your food. Check cutting boards to see if they should be replaced. Boards with deep scratches will harbor bacteria. One good way to thoroughly clean cutting boards is to liberally sprinkle salt on the surface, then squeeze lemon juice (the bottled kind works just fine), allow to work for a couple of minutes and give a good scrubbing. This will remove discoloration.

Part of spring cleaning can also be cleaning out your food pantry. Discard dented cans and cans or boxed food that have expired. Check your spices-how long have you had them? Spices should be replaced at least once a year as their usefulness declines after about six months. Are there cans or other items that you have not used in months or even a year? Consider donating them (if they are in good condition and not expired) to your local food bank. If you keep an additional pantry in the house, consider moving those items that are cluttering your pantry to it so you have more room, and will then be more likely to use what you have before it needs to be disposed of.

Refrigerator
Kitchen spring cleaning is not complete without thoroughly cleaning those major appliances you use every day. Remove magnets and items hanging from your fridge and wash down the front and side of the refrigerator to remove dirt, finger prints and grease. Especially pay attention to the side of the door, and door handles. A toothbrush is very handy for cleaning the seal of the fridge door where dirt, mold and other foreign particles like to live. The Magic Eraser is also handy here for removing hard to remove dirt and finger prints your cleaning solution won’t pick up. Wash magnet surfaces with a small spray of glass cleaner to clean grease and dirt. Once you are ready to move on to the inside of your refrigerator, remember that keeping the door open for long periods of time will increase the temperature. You will want to work as quickly as possible and perhaps even clean the fridge in sections. I start at the top by removing everything from the shelf and wiping the surfaces with Fantastic and a cloth or sponge. A sponge with a scrubby side here is helpful to remove any caked on or sticky food. Be sure not to spray cleaning solution if there is uncovered food inside your refrigerator. You can spray directly onto your cloth or sponge instead. Work your way down from there, paying special attention to the egg holder, butter dish and crisper drawers. I like to remove them and wash them in a sink of soapy water to give them a good cleaning. If you need to defrost your freezer, now while doing your spring cleaning might be a good time. Regardless, wiping down the bottom of your freezer is a good idea to remove food crumbs and such. Also pay attention to the door and shelves. Using hot, soapy water is useful as it tends to give you more working time before it freezes up. Again, work as quickly as possible if you have food in the freezer. Don’t forget to clean behind and underneath the refrigerator. Dust bunnies accumulate there and result in your refrigerator working less efficiently. Simply using a broom lying as flat as possible parallel to the floor will remove dust bunnies. Using the hose of a vacuum cleaner by placing it underneath will remove excess dust and dirt as well.

Stove/Oven
Perhaps the place you will spend most of your elbow grease on apart from the walls nearby the stove during your spring cleaning, is the stove itself. You may be very surprised to see just how clean your stove can be if you put a little work into cleaning it thoroughly. Remove and clean burners and covers. I find a short rinse in hot soapy water while you are cleaning the remainder of the stove works just fine. The best tool here to remove grease is the Magic Eraser. It will amaze you to see just how much grease can be lifted off all your stove surfaces (even if you clean on a regular basis). Again, be sure to check the package for directions and test in a small area. Some surfaces may have to be avoided with the Magic Eraser. I also strongly suggest that you wipe down any area that you use the Magic Eraser on with some soap and water as a cloudy residue is left behind with use. A good old Brillo also can work just fine but you will use less energy with the Magic Eraser. The inside of the stove can be cleaned using Brillo, an oven cleaner or if you have a self-cleaning oven, now would be the time to use it. You want to clean your oven before you move onto the floor as debris and residue from the Brillo or oven cleaner will just end up dirtying your floor. Remove the stove racks and clean with oven cleaner or Brillo to remove grease and caked on food. Clean out your broiler and accompanying pans.

Be sure you have cleaned the wall behind and to the sides of the stove. If you have a microwave or other appliance above the stove, remove it if possible to thoroughly clean underneath it as grease will have accumulated there. Clean both the inside and outside of this appliance, paying attention to the sides and underneath it where it is exposed to grease from the stove. The Magic Eraser works wonderfully here as well.

If you keep a utensil canister on your cabinet top, remove all utensils and allow to soak in some hot soapy water. Let’s face it, not all your utensils are used often and will be covered with dust or grease, which will end up in your food the next time you go to reach for it when cooking. Clean the inside and outside of the canister. The Magic Eraser works very well here to remove the grease stuck on it. Wash all utensils and allow to dry before putting them back. If there are some you don’t use, remove them to a drawer or donate.

Floors
Once your kitchen is thoroughly cleaned and back to normal, which may have taken you anywhere from an hour to several hours, depending on how thoroughly you decided to spring clean, it is time to finish with the floors. First, sweep all debris, dust and dirt. Then, if you have linoleum or tile, use a scrubber mop or scrub brush to really get the ground in dirt out. Target has a great long handled scrub mop with replacable head that is perfect for this job. Once you have thoroughly scrubbed the floor, mop it with ammonia to remove dirt and grease as well as to disinfect. This will remove any cleaning residue as well as serve as a floor stripper. For a beautiful shine consider sealing your linoleum floor. One product that is terrific and easy to use is Future Premium Floor Finish. Be sure your floors are thoroughly dried before applying. Simply use a clean cloth, towel or mop, apply floor finish directly to the floor and in circles, rub in. Depending on the size of your floor, this process actually is quite short and should only take you 20-30 minutes. Allow to dry (the finish will be sticky so you don’t want to walk on it). If desired, you can apply a second coat for additional shine.

From your ceiling to your floors, spring cleaning can be an intense job. However, it only comes once a year and once done, you will be thoroughly satisfied with the results as you stand back and admire your glowing kitchen, knowing the work you put into spring cleaning your kitchen has left it disinfected, clean and shining. Your family is sure to take note.

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