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Have you ever found yourself in that embarrassing position where a dear friend invites you to join her in the kitchen while she prepares tea and biscuits for your visit? I am talking about noticing all the nooks and crannies filled with dust and even dirt accumulation in the hard-to-reach spots. And then, after unintentionally noticing accumulated dirt in obscure places, you cannot stop thinking about that instead of the spotlessly shining work surfaces and crockery, while forcing your tea and cookies down your throat with a smile of pleasure!
Believe me, it is very easy to fall into this trap of not noticing the dirt in our own environment as we tend to focus on finishing the tasks at hand, most probably in the quickest way possible, and may not notice the dirt building in hidden corners and folds.
WORK WITH A PLAN
A clean kitchen must be cleaned daily, weekly, monthly, and some major tasks can be done once a year. The frequency of cleaning per area of your kitchen varies according to many influencing factors, such as how often it is used, how often appliances are used, where you dwell (dusty, humid, etc environments), and more.
If you have worked in the corporate world you will know that there are Action Plans for most projects. An action plan for regular cleaning tasks will not only help you bring order to routine kitchen tasks but will ensure that you never forget the not-so-obvious places. You will soon discover that some cleaning routines fall outside the scope of “official” plans because they are done “on-the-go”. A good example would be the habits developed over the years or those learned at mother’s knee, such as wiping the work surfaces with a wet cloth automatically after working on it.
Typical kitchen cleaning action plans will incorporate daily, weekly and monthly tasks, and maybe a separate action plan for an annual Spring Clean. In this article, we will concentrate on the more regular tasks, which in any event, will make Spring Cleaning a breeze! You probably know the old English saying of “A stitch in time saves nine”, and this becomes even more evident when the time for a weekly or monthly deep-clean arrives.
There is a myriad of all-purpose cleaning products available on supermarket shelves. Personally, I have found that there is not much difference between their cleaning effectiveness. They vary in price range, and the ingredients in some are identical. With modern green thinking in mind, I would suggest that you choose the least harmful and most natural environmentally friendly products that you can find.
You could also choose to use a home made cleaning solution. Recipes for some of these products have been passed down in families for more than a generation. The ingredients are easily obtainable, they work effectively and are safe to use in homes where children and pets can come into contact with them. Just make sure that you keep harmful or even slightly poisonous products or mixes locked safely away or stick to ingredients that are completely safe.
Here is a list of cleaning, sanitizing and deodorizing products for use in the kitchen and the rest of the home. The ingredients are easy to find and economical. The quantities can vary of each for the degree of cleaning and the surfaces to be cleaned.
- White Vinegar
- Baking Soda
- Non-toxic essential oils (optional)
- Pine Gel
- Spray bottles
A mixture of vinegar and water in equal quantities in a spray bottle is ideal for daily cleaning of countertops and other surfaces, EXCEPT GRANITE COUNTERTOPS WHICH WILL BE DAMAGED BY THE ACID. Just spray and wipe with a clean cloth. If you do not like the smell of vinegar, do not despair! The smell disappears as soon as it is completely dry. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the vinegar/water mix though, if you prefer. Lemon, lemongrass, or mint will leave the kitchen smelling fresh, and in addition bugs, from ants to mosquitoes and more, stay away from surfaces that are regularly wiped with this mixture.
Granite tops can be wiped clean with a cloth dipped in soapy water, finishing with a clean damp cloth to remove the soapiness.
A general all-purpose cleaner that also disinfects the surfaces can be mixed from 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda (baking soda), half a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, and two tablespoons of vinegar in a spray bottle. The Bicarbonate of Soda in this mixture can be replaced with salt if you prefer, but personally, Bicarb is my first choice. Shake the mixture and let it bubble and fizz for a while, then fill the bottle with warm water. Shake to mix. A quick spray and wipe are all that is needed to clean and disinfect surfaces in a jiffy.
One scoop of Pine Gel in half a bucket of water does a great job of cleaning kitchen floors, walls, and other tiled surfaces. You may also add a few drops of essential oil for that fresh-smelling tint!
Baking Soda works well to deodorize anything, from your garbage bin to your drains, to musty-smelling cupboards. Sprinkle a thin layer of it over the area that you want to deodorize, leave it for an hour or two, or overnight, then wipe it off with a clean dry cloth.
To keep your sink drain from blocking up, pour a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Let it bubble and fizz to its heart’s content and leave it for around half an hour or so. Then rinse it down with warm water. I promise you will never have a blocked kitchen drain again!
A word of caution: Although these products clean and sanitize your kitchen from ordinary dirt and germs, and vinegar can be effective against for example salmonella and E.coli, they do not work on serious viruses such as staph, and other dangerous contaminations. For that you must use (in the USA) EPA registered products.
KITCHEN CLEANING TOOLS
The basic essential toolkit includes the following:
Scoop and Brush
At least two toothbrushes
Two soft microfibre cloths – one dry, one damp
Two Sponges – one plain, and one with a hard fibre scrubbing side
DAILY KITCHEN CLEANING HABITS
This includes everything that you use on a daily basis. The time to do it is as soon as you have used it! This excellent habit has the added advantage of keeping your kitchen free of creepy crawlies who are attracted by any and all spilt or leftover foods.
While your food is cooking you can clean away the preparation utensils from your work surface. Put the cutlery, containers, and chopping board in the sink filled with soapy hot water, to soak while you wipe the surfaces where you worked with a clean damp cloth. Wash and rinse these and put them on the drying rack. By the time your cooked food is ready for final preparation, you can pack the dried utensils away.
If you have enough time while the food is cooking you may also wipe the windowsills, and other kitchen surfaces with a damp cloth. This includes the surfaces of the kitchen equipment stored on the shelves, such as the toaster and other electrical appliances, vases, and displays. Do not forget to wipe under the appliances!
The same routine applies to all meals and tea or coffee times.
After dinner tasks will include rinsing and stacking the dishwasher or hand washing the dishes. While these are drying, soak the cloths which you used for wiping the surfaces clean, in hot soapy water.
Sweep and mop the kitchen floor. You may be surprised at the amount of dust and dirt particles caused by daily traffic in and out of your kitchen. This is the one room in your dwelling where a clean floor and working surfaces need a wash or at least a wipe with a damp cloth every day. A clean kitchen is always inviting and takes pride of place in any home.
WEEKLY KITCHEN CLEANING TASKS
The following tasks should be done at least once per week. If you do not have an opportunity long enough to accomplish this in one go, it may be a good idea to do them over several days by dividing your kitchen into different areas for each day. A better idea would however be to divide it into different tasks rather than by area, as you will find it more efficient and cost-effective to use the already gathered cleaning materials and equipment per task.
Start by preparing your cleaning products and gathering your equipment. The most basic of these will be your cleaning mixes and a mop, a cloth for each job, a sponge, and a toothbrush. You may laugh at this last item, but believe me, it is the handiest tool for all the tiny nooks and crannies, the seams where the different components of your kitchen appliances come together! I have several toothbrushes in my caddy for the different areas to be cleaned, as you do not want to use the same brush for the seams inside your microwave oven and those of your window latches or door hinges!
Start by decluttering your kitchen. To ensure that you do not get side-tracked during this task, just drop everything that does not belong in the kitchen into a laundry basket for sorting later. Remember to clean from the top down to the bottom to ensure that already cleaned surfaces are not soiled again.
- Dust or wipe with a damp cloth the tops of your cupboards, fridge, freezer, shelves, and all the other surfaces which have not been cleaned daily.
- Wipe the tops of your stove, and everywhere where oily spatter or residue may have accumulated, with an all-purpose cleaner. Follow with a damp cloth.
- Empty all containers, baskets, or caddies with kitchen utensils stored on open shelves or surfaces and wipe them clean with a damp cloth. Rinse (or wash) the contents before putting them back.
- Wash the kitchen surfaces, windowsills, which you have wiped daily, once a week with all-purpose cleaner or soapy water, followed by a thorough wipe with a damp cloth to remove soap.
- Wash the surfaces beneath all your kitchen appliances and dry rack, the cooker hood, and all other loose appliances. Use a toothbrush to get into the seams and joins.
- Wipe or wash the inside of your oven, and all other appliances, the method depending on whether they had been used during the week.
- Clean your stovetop.
- Put a container with water and a little lemon juice or vinegar in your microwave oven, switch it on for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the liquid. Switch the microwave off at the wall plug. Now wipe the inside with a clean damp cloth. If there are any stubborn discolorations or fat spots, wipe this with soapy water or all-purpose cleaner, followed by a damp cloth. Use your toothbrush dipped in soapy water or your multipurpose cleaner to reach the difficult spots.
- Clean the cupboard and door handles. Clean the sink and taps.
- Wash the trashcan with an all-purpose cleaner and sprinkle it with a thin layer of baking soda when it is completely dry to deodorize it thoroughly.
MONTHLY KITCHEN CLEANING TASKS
Plan your monthly deep-clean for a day when you have several hours available because this job includes not only a repeat of your daily and weekly tasks in a more thorough fashion, but there are some added tasks to complete as well.
Remember the golden rule of cleaning from top to bottom and left to right!
- Spray and wipe the ceiling and wall lights and lampshades with an all-purpose cleaner.
- Repeat all your daily and weekly cleaning tasks, but instead of just wiping with a damp cloth, spray and wipe with an all-purpose cleaner, followed by a wipe with a clean damp cloth on all the surfaces which are used for food preparation.
- Wipe under all hanging shelves, and underneath fixtures and fittings.
- Wipe down wall hangings and pictures
- Clean the ceiling fan and the extractor fan by using your vacuum cleaner extension attachment.
- Check all pantry items for any items that are past their expiration dates or need to be restocked.
- Check your freezer for any items that need to be thrown out or restocked.
- Clean out the refrigerator and wipe down shelves and drawers
- Take care when cleaning the inside of your dishwasher, run it on the hottest cycle possible to ensure the inside is a sterile environment.
- Clean and degrease the dish drainer drip pan
- Clean the grout between the tiles on the kitchen walls.
- Focus on cleaning surfaces where a sticky build-up has formed by sprinkling the area with a few drops of olive oil. Wipe with a clean cloth. Finish by wiping down with a soapy warm water solution.
- Take a broom to the corners of the ceiling to catch any cobwebs in your kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Now, sweep or vacuum the floors taking care to work left to right.
ANNUAL KITCHEN CLEANING CHECKLIST
- Clean refrigerator coils, remember to first switch the plug off and remove it from the plug point as there could still be a slight current running through the coils.
- Clean under the refrigerator, for this you can use your vacuum cleaner attachment that gets in under the sofa or beds.
- Clean the oven thoroughly, take out the shelves and wash them in the bathtub or sink with a good degreaser and scrub them with a scrubbing brush if the need arises.
- Clean and sort through your cooking utensils. Organize your utensils and use this time to declutter and donate any items that are duplicated or that you have not used in the last six months. Remember, the less duplicates of pots, pans, and utensils you have the less you will have to clean on your next annual cleaning spree!
- Take an inventory of your spices and supplements; throw away the items with expiry dates that have passed and add them to your shopping list to replenish. Toss ones that are too old, and take note of what needs replenishing
- Look at all your dishware and repair or repurpose or throw away any items that are cracked or chipped.
Keeping your kitchen clutter-free, organised, and well-stocked is a full-time job, and your priority. It seems never-ending but if you’ve followed my tips, hints, plans and checklists, you are well on your way to being the most organised person for the job! It is a monumental, never-ending task. Since you have everything well planned and, on your checklist, you won’t even have to think about what to do next, it will become a natural extension of your cleaning routine! Having your cleaning tasks broken into sections will let you breeze through these cleaning chores; you will be relaxed as you simply go about your daily routine!
When the kitchen is clean and keeping it that way is part of your cleaning routine, you will have time enough to spend with your family, whether this is colouring in with the kids or reading them a story! AND what about the neglected spouse, ever complaining that you have no time to spend together, well, if your cleaning routine is regular and your daily, weekly, monthly and annual checklists are running smoothly – Go out on the town and enjoy a dinner that somebody else has to cook and then clean their restaurant kitchen!
Your work is done – Now enjoy your free time without feeling guilty that the dishes need to be done!!