Spring into a Clean Kitchen
There are no oil lamps or coal furnace at my house but the kitchen could use a spring cleaning. You may wonder if I have fallen off the logic train with that comment. However, there is certainly a connection.
Back in the day, spring cleaning was not just a ritual performed by someone with nothing better to do. It came about out of necessity. Over the winter, the early evening darkness meant many evenings of burning lanterns and candles. I am sure you have wiped the blackened glass of a candle holder in your own home. Can you imagine if you lit your house every night in that fashion? Pretty soon, there would be soot covering the walls, windows, curtains and every surface. Add to that that heating was done in much less clean fashion that today’s electricity or natural gas. Coal and oil furnaces or wood burning fireplaces bring their own soot. By spring, flinging open the doors and windows and cleaning from top to bottom was much needed.
Today, we do not have the motivation of grime everywhere to bring on spring cleaning but it is just as good a time as any to perform deep cleaning that needs to take place – especially in the kitchen where health and sanitation is important. In a restaurant, a cleaning schedule brings about a rotation to so that every surface, from the walk-in freezer to even the outside of the garbage disposal, is cleaned.
In our own homes, we tend to clean on a tu-it schedule. I am sure you know that tu-it means “when I get around to it.” Since we do not have a visiting restaurant inspector, we may never get around to it, which is not a good plan. Spring is a great time to make sure that once a year, at least, you hit some of the areas that are not cleaned on daily or weekly basis.
Keep in mind that you do not need to kill yourself by trying to do these extra tasks all in the same day. I certainly would not. Instead, try to add one task to your regular kitchen cleaning routine each time you clean until you have completed the list.
Try working from the top down. T hat way if you bump down dust or grease, it will not be landing on a clean surface. This means you may want to start with cleaning lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, tops of cabinets, fridge top and AC/heat vents first. Followed by curtains and windows and dor on the walls. Then on to surfaces and appliances.
Spring is a great time to clean:
Odds and Ends: Nearly every kitchen has odds and ends, from jars holding utensils to canisters to decorative plates on the wall that have gathered grease and dust over the year. Much of it may be able to go into the dishwasher – especially if you do not use the heat dry cycle. Otherwise, grab some glass cleaner and make a sink of hot soapy water and tackle all your odds and ends until they shine.
The fridge: Empty into some coolers, pitching out expired foods as you go. Remove drawers or bins. Wipe down walls and shelves. Clean drawers and reassemble. Pull out from wall and clean floor underneath. Use a vacuum attachment to vacuum coils.
The freezer and/or stand-alone freezer: Repeat your fridge actions but with the freezer. When you return frozen food to the freezer, be sure to put older things to the front so that you will use them first.
Microwave: Place a bowl of water plus a few tablespoons of white vinegar in the microwave. Heat on high for a few minutes until very hot. The steam from the vinegar water will soften splatters. Wipe out microwave with soapy water. If you have a glass tray in the bottom, wash it separately or add it to the dishwasher if dishwasher safe.
Stove-Oven: Clean your oven according to manufacture directions. If you have a lower drawer, remove it and wipe it out then vacuum under the drawer. While the oven is cleaning, tackle the stove top or burner pans.
Toaster- Toaster Oven: Remove crumbs. Clean outside with stainless steel cleaner. Clean the inside of the toaster oven and racks according the manufacturer’s directions.
Coffee Maker: Follow manufactures directions for cleaning your coffee maker. Many of the parts can be run through the dishwasher.
Dishwasher: While the inside of the dishwasher gets cleaned along with the dishes, it does not clean the edges. Take a peak and you willl find lots of splatters and gunk to be scrubbed away. I have found a foaming bathroom cleanser is a great way to get in all the grooves and soak off the debris.
Trash and Recycle Cans: Hopefully these get cleaned pretty often but if not, spring weather is a great time to take them outdoors and give them a good cleaning with bleachy, soapy water.
Inside of Cabinets: If you want to also tackle the inside of your cabinets or pantry, you can refer to all kinds of great advice here at What’s Cooking America. See our section of kitchen organizing articles.
When you have finished your deep clean of these areas, it is time to give the surface a once over cleaning. That means wiping off cabinets, countertops, the outside of appliances and so forth.
Throw open the windows and enjoy spring!
Photo credit: happy housecleaning woman Ariwasabi-fotolia.com.
Author Lea Schneider, a columnist for What’s Cooking America, is a freelance writer and organizational expert whose organizing ideas have been published in many magazines including Woman’s Day, Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen and Bath Ideas, Family Circle, Parents Magazine, as well as numerous newspapers and websites. She is a member of the Association of Food Journalists.
Getting organized is all about living simpler and making things easier. The bonus is it often leads to saving money. Lea Schneider’s kitchen organizing columns tell you how to organize the many things that relate to kitchens, menus, meals, and special food events.
Check out all of Lea Schneider’s helpful home and kitchen columns at Organizing Kitchens, Pantries, Menus and Meals.