22 Habits to Start to Make Cleaning Your Kitchen Painless
Stop wasting time cleaning the kitchen.
Organize by Category, Not by Location
Instead of organizing the kitchen in one go, first sort kitchen tools and equipment, then food. When going through cookware and equipment, gather everything you own in that category—whether you keep it in your kitchen cabinets, out in the laundry room or in the garage.
Take everything in the category and pile it on the table or the floor. This step can feel extreme, but it’s important. Visually confronting the sheer quantity of what you own makes it easier to take stock and to let things go. Did you know this is Marie Kondo’s favorite kitchen storage container?
Get Rid of Anything That Doesn’t Spark Joy
Decluttering is a process of paring down, often dramatically. As Kondo says, “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”
Hold each item for a moment. If it sparks joy (or is useful and necessary), then keep it. If not, thank the item for its service, and let it go. It’s helpful to consider like items together. If you have several bread pans, keep the one or two you really use. If you have eight hot sauces, keep your favorites (and ditch anything that is expired!).
Do a Quick Clean-Up
With your cabinets, drawers and fridge emptied, you have a perfect opportunity to clean them up. Use a wet cloth to wipe down surfaces and catch crumbs. Consider adding liners to keep shelves clean. While you’re at it, wipe down oil and vinegar bottles, dust spice jars and wash refrigerator drawers.
Let Your Lifestyle Determine Your Organization
To keep your kitchen clean and organized, set it up right. Put all items of the same type together in one place. Kondo likes to think vertically, shelf by shelf. For example, cereal and snacks on the bottom shelf, canned food and jars of grains and beans on the next, flour and baking goods on top, etc. But you do you. Keep items you use most in easily accessible areas.
It’s also helpful to store everything you’ll need for a specific task together. For example, if you brew coffee every morning, store the beans, grinder, cups and measuring scoop together, ideally close to the machine.
Organizers Are Your Friends
Subdividing drawers and shelves into smaller sections helps keep items separate and uncluttered. Kondo likes to use shelf stackers to maximize space in tall shelves. In drawers, plastic or cardboard boxes corral silverware, knives, clips and cooking tools. Caddies keep cleaners tidy under the sink. Shoeboxes make it easy to find spices. Fixing a rack to the inside of a cabinet makes pot lids easy to grab, and makes the most of a cramped space. Good organization makes your kitchen easier and more efficient to use (which makes you a happier cook). Next, learn about Marie Kondo’s one condition of keeping items that don’t spark joy here.
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Banish Anything That Doesn’t Belong in the Kitchen
Do you come in the door and throw your mail on the counter? Toss your purse on the table? Is the island a dumping ground for every random item your family goes through in a day, from stray Legos to cell phones? Go ahead and make the kitchen a cooking-only zone (hanging out while someone is cooking counts). Your work space will feel larger without unneeded items in it.
Organize Your Fridge with a Six-Pack
Do all of your small bottles in the refrigerator door like to tip over after opening or closing the door? Fortunately, the answer to tidying those wayward bottles is just a recycling bin away. To keep all of your condiments under control use an empty six-pack holder to hold and organize the condiments in your refrigerator door.
LIZ VAN STEENBURGH/SHUTTERSTOCK
It’s Time to Toss Those Takeout Menus
Though your takeout bag comes with a menu or two, the reality is, you end up stuffing all that wasted paper in a drawer. Then before you know it, menu after menu, it’s hard for you to close your kitchen drawer. Toss those suckers in the recycling bin and stick to looking up menus online. Don’t miss these quick kitchen cleaning tips.
Refrigerator/Freezer Stackable Storage Bins
These clear plastic bins are great for keeping your pantry, refrigerator or freezer tidy while ensuring everything remains in sight. This kitchen organization idea will keep you from buying things when you don’t need them! The bins are BPA-free and feature built-in handles.
Get Produce Off the Counter
Sometimes all that’s needed to spruce up space is organization. This creative way to store fruits and vegetables is inexpensive and attractive. It’s also a bonus that this project will free up valuable counter space.
Kitchen Organization Ideas: Don’t Let the Junk Drawer Overflow
It goes without saying that a junk drawer goes from being a place for miscellaneous items, to an overflowing space that has more non-essential items in it than ones you actually want to get easy access to. Go through your junk drawer quarterly, making sure anything that’s in there is something you truly need. The rest you can toss, like extra rubber bands, plastic bags, chopsticks, business cards, and more.
Microwave: Steam away messes
Don’t waste elbow grease on the crusted messes in your microwave—just let them steam clean. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a microwave-safe bowl. Add the lemon pieces to the bowl, along with 1/2 cup of water. Nuke the water and lemon for three minutes on high, or until the liquid starts to boil. Without opening the door, let the lemon water stand for five minutes. The lemony steam will help break down the gunk, making it easy to wipe off after you remove the bowl. Take out the turntable to clean it, then wipe down the top, bottom, sides, and door of the microwave before putting it back. Don’t miss these ways you might be cleaning your kitchen wrong.
Blender: Let it self-clean
Hate the idea of scrubbing every inch of the blade? Let your blender do all the dirty work. Fill the pitcher with hot water as soon as you’re done using it, add a couple drops of soap, and run the blender like you would for a recipe. Rinse it out and it will be ready for your next concoction. Just make sure you take the blender apart and give it a hands-on scrub every now and then for a deep clean. Check out these cleaning myths you need to stop believing.
Coffee maker: Clean out with vinegar
Coffee maker reservoirs are among the most germy items in the kitchen and have even more germs than bathroom door knobs, according to a small study by public health organization NSF. To keep yours clean, wash the removable pieces of the machine after every use—most parts can easily be thrown in the dishwasher. But about once a month, give it a deep clean by attacking the buildup on the inside of the appliance. Put a paper filter in place, then fill the water chamber with equal parts vinegar and water. Start the machine, then turn it off when it’s halfway through the brew cycle. Let the solution sit for half an hour, then finish the brew cycle. Pour out the vinegar solution, and replace the paper filter, then run the brew cycle with a full pot of water. Repeat the process with one more full pot of water. For a single-cup machine, fill the reservoir with the vinegar-water solution, then run the brew cycle without a K-Cup one mugful at a time. Repeat with plain water. Here are some other extraordinary uses for vinegar.
Slow cooker: Deep clean with baking soda
A slow cooker makes food preparation easy, but the cleanup? Not so much. When your appliance has a mess that can’t be wiped away after a presoak, it’s time for a deep clean. Add ¼ cup of baking soda and a squirt of dish soap, then fill with water. Put the lid on, then turn the machine on high for two to four hours. Here’s how to clean your kitchen in basically five minutes.
istock/© chris beddoe
Toaster: Target the crumb tray
Don’t forget about that crumb tray, if your toaster has one. Slide it out and shake off the crumbs, or turn the whole machine upside down and shake lightly if it doesn’t have a removable tray. Wash and dry the tray before putting it back to get rid of any caked-on food. To clean out the inner corners of your toaster, reach in with a pastry or basting brush. Finish by wiping the outside with a damp cloth and mild detergent, or a bit of vinegar if it’s stainless steel. These cleaning mistakes are definitely making your home dirtier.
Clean Range Hood Grease Filters With a Degreaser
Running your vent hood grease filter through the dishwasher can yield disappointing results. Likewise with ‘grease cutting’ household cleaners. Get great results with a water-based degreaser from the auto parts store. Fill the sink with hot water and degreaser, drop in the filter and let the degreaser do all the work. The filter will come out sparkling clean in just a few minutes. Then just rinse it off.
Do you have a glass stove top? Learn how to clean a glass stove top the best way.
Skip the Bucket
Sometimes moving around the mop bucket only makes more of a mess thanks to the dirty water splashing around. Leslie Reichert, founder of The Green Cleaning Coach and author of The Joy Of Green Cleaning, has a bucket-less mopping technique that works wonders: a spray bottle filled with diluted cleaning solution and a microfiber mop.
Countertop Gap Filler
If crumbs, papers or even flatware falls into the gap between your countertop and refrigerator, fill the void with nearly invisible plastic tubing. Clear tubing is available at home centers in several widths starting at 1/8 in and will help you clean house fast since you won’t be searching for crumbs.
Cut Grease With a Hot Rag
Grease and dirt build up on kitchen cabinets over time. To clean your cabinets, first heat a slightly damp sponge or cloth in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds until it’s hot. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, spray the cabinets with an all-purpose cleaner containing orange oil, then wipe off the cleaner with the hot sponge. For stubborn spots, let the cleaner sit for five minutes first. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain. Rinse and reheat the sponge as it becomes saturated. Then wipe the cabinets with a cool, damp cloth. The orange oil leaves a shiny coating. This works for any wood or metal surface.
Stop Countertop Stains
If you have an older plastic laminate countertop, you’ve probably noticed that it doesn’t repel stains like it used to. That’s because years of wear have left the surface lightly scratched and porous. The best way to prevent stains is to wipe up spills immediately. But a protective coating of countertop polish can also help. Plus it will restore the shine to dull countertops. All you have to do is spray it on and wipe it off every few weeks. Most home centers and discount stores carry countertop polish such as Countertop Magic or Hope’s Counter Top Polish. If you don’t find it in a store, search for ‘countertop polish’ online to find a supplier and a great cleaner.
Getting burnt food off cookware is no easy feat. But here’s a clever trick: put a new dryer sheet at the bottom of the dirty pan, add water and let it soak overnight. The next day, wipe out the pan and you’re good to go.
Once all of your pots and pans are sparkly clean, you can build these helpful rollouts to keep everything organized.