The kitchen has long been credited as the center hub of the home, providing a space for friends and family to share great meals, conversation, and drinks. For many of us, the kitchen also often doubles as a workspace for children’s crafts, homework, family hobbies, and board games, and other supervised or communal activities. Kitchen design style choices certainly vary dramatically among homeowners and are personal to each of us, but no matter the vibe, keeping the kitchen spotless and clean is an important task that taxes us all.
Saving self and family from germs and contamination at home centers largely around the kitchen, both due to its function as a gathering point and also because this is the space where our food is prepared, cooked, and eaten. Of course, we all want pest-free, germ-free, sanitary living and eating conditions, but daily spills and drips and treads through this common, high-traffic area can make any plans for a spotless kitchen seem like a ridiculous daydream. The beginning may not be easy; depending on the current state of your kitchen, it could take a Weekend Warrior effort to organize and optimize long-time clutter and really kick off the process. In fact, the overarching framework of trying to organize and optimize your space will likely be a slow, ongoing process as your needs change, your kitchen inventory changes, your family grows, or you recognize a new trick that could maximize your kitchen workflow. This is totally normal! Don’t let it overwhelm you.
For now, consider what big projects might need to be done at present to help lay the groundwork for the spotless-kitchen effort. Enlist household help, if needed. Don’t forget to sort through and remove expired pantry, cabinet, and refrigerator items regularly as well, as ample storage space is a key ingredient to this clean-kitchen recipe.
So, let’s get right into these cleaning tips for a spotless kitchen. These will ensure that you have an easy time planning and maintaining your clean command center.
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that the kitchen is not a storage space for the accessories of all the daily activities it hosts – only the culinary items belong there. Create defined spaces to stow away all clutter; use baskets, containers, a mail holder, close-front drawers and cabinets, and any other organizational and sorting bins necessary to keep surfaces clear. Remember to remove items that are not kitchen-related and return them to where they belong, elsewhere in the home.
Stow food and consider storing small appliances that are not used regularly. If you go through the process of sorting expired food and decluttering your storage space and you still don’t have enough room to discreetly store your food and non-essential cooking items, consider an option like a rolling butcher’s block, curtains, or a free-standing cabinet, depending on your kitchen’s layout and needs. Get creative with an end-goal of keeping as many items out of sight and well-stored as possible.
Once all of your surfaces are free of miscellaneous objects, it’s important to clean and sanitize them. Choose appropriate cleaning products for different surface finishes (stainless steel, wood, granite, quartz, etc.) and use alternative, natural cleaners if preferred, especially for food-prep areas. Use your favorite cleaner on an as-needed basis and any other time you can spare a few minutes and some elbow grease. In between scrubs, keep an absorbent, fast-drying all-purpose rag in or near your sink to quickly swipe up stovetops, countertops, and manageable spills.
Maintenance is important, but since we all stay so busy, keeping that maintenance easy (read: not going to push us over the edge at the end of another long day) is critical, as well. Tackling messes as they happen is a significant advantage and time hack when it comes to the art of maintaining a spotless kitchen.
You can apply this same principle to dishwashing, as well. The sink can be a breeding ground for germs and pests alike if dishes are not tackled each day. An empty sink also makes a huge contribution towards the spotless kitchen look, so this task, though it may be a crowd “most hated” chore, is critical for health and a clean aesthetic. As you cook, fill your sink or a large basin with warm, soapy water; use this as a depot for utensils, pots, pans, and dishes as you finish using them. Believe it or not, soaking these items immediately is life-changing. If you have a dishwasher, many items can just be removed from the soapy water and placed right into your machine, as dishwashers work best when plates have some minor build-up on them. Without a dishwasher, the soaking method turns former scrub time into a quick suds and rinse, and your back, feet, and arms will thank you!
Don’t forget that you can also use disposable plates and bowls at any time. There’s nothing shameful about the ease of being able to just throw everything away come clean-up time, and sometimes it’s exactly what we need to give us a few extra moments doing something we love with people we love. Just be sure that you have ample trash bags and that you are transferring your trash to a larger, outdoor receptacle as often as needed. Like a dish-ridden sink, nothing is more unsightly or dirty than an overflowing garbage can in the eating space. Trash can create odors and attract bugs, along with being visually unappetizing. For a spotless kitchen, never skimp on taking the trash out.
Another area that can be the source of foul odors is the aforementioned sink. After washing all those dishes, be sure to maintain your sink’s cleanliness, removing debris as best as possible. Use a lemon wedge on hard water stains and soap scum. If you have a garbage disposal, pop that used lemon wedge in there and run the disposal and your faucet in-tandem for several seconds to help deodorize your drain with a citrus scent. If you do not have a garbage disposal, or for stronger draining issues, find the best drain cleaner suited to your needs and use as instructed. Avoid leaving standing water, and tackle any suspected pipe issues as soon as possible to prevent damage to your home and stronger foul smells.
Along with using surface cleaners on appliance fronts, counters, and cabinet faces, a spotless kitchen will also tackle interiors. Vacuum crumbs from drawers, line refrigerator shelves with cling wrap or wipe shelves often, and definitely, do not neglect the microwave. As arguably the most convenient kitchen appliance, the microwave gets a lot of use and tends to look like a horror-movie explosion inside. Instead of using chemicals or heavy muscle work to remedy this, grab a medium- to large-sized microwave-safe bowl, fill it at least halfway or more with water, and set it inside your microwave. Run your machine for roughly 10 minutes. As the water boils, it will steam profusely, sweating the inside of your microwave. Carefully remove the bowl (it will be hot), and simply use a paper towel or rag to wipe away any and all gunk inside your machine.
Finally, don’t forget to keep your floors in good order. Just like with paperwork and crafts, the kitchen floor is not a storage space for shoes and toys. Remove all items that do not belong in the kitchen space and use a proper cleaner for your floor’s surface. In between deep cleans, maintain the spotless look by sweeping (especially effective if you have a door leading outside from your kitchen), or using old socks or microfiber rags to pass over the floors and collect crumbs, pet hair, and dirt. Use hot water or a cleaner on sticky spots as soon as you find them.
Remember that doing a little bit each day and cleaning up as you go are the two most important tips for long-term upkeep of a spotless kitchen. Use these time-saving cleaning tips and sanity-saving organizational ideas to put the finishing touches on your dream kitchen!