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A Clean Kitchen: The Complete Guide (According to a Pro)

By March 9, 2022No Comments
clean kitchen

Keeping a clean kitchen can feel daunting, even impossible to achieve. It doesn’t have to be! In fact, I bet we can transform keeping a clean kitchen from a chore to an act of self-care you can’t do without.

My goal when cleaning anyone’s home is to improve the lives of those who live there. It is a lofty ambition, but one I have achieved over and over again during my nearly thirty years of professional cleaning.

Three decades will teach a person a few things, and one lesson I’ve learned is this: Keeping a clean kitchen can transform your entire home.

That is because kitchens, unlike bathrooms, are often exposed. Any mess in the kitchen is probably visible from nearby rooms. Bad smells are free to wander, unobstructed by doors. The trash from around the house often finds its way to your kitchen waste bin, packing it up until someone finally gives in and removes it.

The worse it gets, the more intimidating it becomes. Filth becomes more challenging to clean. The kitchen falls deeper into disarray. And you become more and more uncomfortable, even to the point of anxiety.

I’m here to help! Cleaning the kitchen is a lot of work, especially after being neglected, but it doesn’t have to be miserable, and it will improve your life! So without further ado, let’s dive into Master Clean’s ultimate guide to cleaning the kitchen!

Contents

  1. General Advice
  2. Use the Best Cleaning Products
  3. Order of Operations
  4. Cleaning your Kitchen Surfaces
  5. Cleaning your Kitchen Appliances
    1. How to Clean your Refrigerator
    2. How to Clean Your Stovetop
    3. …and your oven!
    4. How to Clean Your Microwave
  6. Organize Your Kitchen
  7. Cleaning Your Sink
  8. Don’t Forget the Floors!

The Ultimate Guide to a Clean Kitchen

General Advice

I try to stick to a few core principles with every cleaning project, and keeping a clean kitchen is no exception. I’ve outlined them for you below, and I only ask that you give them all a fair chance before rolling your eyes. Some of the advice may come off as hokey or naive, but it works wonders for me, and it will help you too.

If you want to jump to the cleaning advice, it is just a little ways down. But in my experience, unless you find a way to incorporate these first few tips, then investing in a cleaning habit is always going to be miserable. I hope that, with this advice, you begin to experience the life-changing effects of keeping a clean kitchen (and home)!

1. Make it fun!

The best way to introduce fun into your chores is to link them with something you love. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite podcast. Perhaps it’s putting on a cherished movie in the background. It could be as simple as listening to some new music!

Whatever it is, you will begin to associate future chores with things you enjoy, and doing them will feel like less of a headache. Find what works for you and be consistent!

2. Always start from the top and work down

Do you know what sucks? Cleaning your floors only to realize you haven’t cleaned the counters yet. Cleaning the counters means some debris will fall to the floor, which means you need to sweep up again.

Don’t fall into this trap! With any cleaning you do, start high and end low. In the kitchen, begin with the top of shelves and cupboards, then the tops of appliances and counters (and anything that might be in-between), and finish with the floors.

3. Maintain, maintain, maintain!

Don’t wait until your kitchen is a terrible mess! The moment you notice a tiny bit of splatter on the stovetop or a collection of crumbs on the counter is the best moment to clean it! 

These smaller messes only take minutes to fix at most, which is much easier than setting aside an hour or more to do a bigger chore. The longer you wait, the more challenging it will become, and it will be that much harder to motivate yourself to clean. Your kitchen will feel dirty, making your home feel gross and making you feel lousy. 

If it helps, try linking maintenance with other chores you are doing anyway. For example, I link wiping down my stovetop to doing the dishes. That’s because if I’m doing the dishes, then I probably cooked, which means the stove could probably use a wipe down. By linking one task with the other, I’ve devised a system in which my stovetop is always clean!

4. Use sustainable products

Do you know what is better for cleaning than paper towels? Cleaning rags. I don’t mean some special, expensive rags made for cleaning. I mean cut-up old t-shirts that you were going to give away anyway.

Do you know what is just as good as an all-purpose cleaner? White vinegar and lemon juice. 

Looking for sustainable alternatives to support your cleaning work is important for two reasons. The first is that we each have a responsibility to steward our planet as we do our homes. The more waste we can cut down, the better for everyone.

The second reason is that it saves you so much money. I will write a blog breaking down just how much you stand to save one of these days. For now, trust me that, when it comes to cleaning, choosing the sustainable option makes a huge difference on your wallet!

5. Celebrate your work

I know, I know. It’s another tip that sounds silly, but trust me. Intentionally taking pride in yourself for doing your chores will make you more likely to follow through on them in the future. I get that it can feel awkward to practice this kind of self-love, but cleaning your home is already an act of self-love, so you may as well celebrate it! Take yourself out to your favorite dinner. Give yourself permission to do nothing else for the rest of the weekend. Whatever brings you joy, indulge in it – you’ve earned it!

Use the Best Cleaning Products

What cleaning supplies are best? Generally speaking, the best cleaning supplies for the kitchen are the ones you have on hand. If you have dish soap and a sponge, then you have a food-safe cleaning solution. If you have paper towels, then you have a rag. While none of these are what I would recommend as the most helpful, they will work, especially if your goal is building a new habit.

If, on the other hand, you are curious about optimizing your habit with the best supplies available, I have a couple of recommendations.

Use Food-Safe Supplies

First, whatever cleaning chemicals you decide to use, make sure they are food safe. That sounds like a no-brainer, but it can be easy to overlook – not all surface cleaners are safe for the kitchen. I recommend using a diluted peroxide mix, as it is generally safe and eco-friendly, and its natural scent is pleasant and won’t linger. You can buy a gallon of concentrated peroxide like this and mix it yourself. If you prefer a retail brand all-purpose cleaner, try using this.

In addition to an all-purpose cleaning spray, you can expect to use quite a bit of dish soap. Dish soap is a degreaser, and the kitchen is full of grease. We love Dawn Platinum, but any dish soap you have on hand will do.

Avoid Waste!

While paper towels do just fine, I find them terribly wasteful, and they may not hold up against really stubborn, sticky messes. If you don’t yet have dedicated cleaning rags, I recommend keeping five to ten around. You don’t even need to buy them! Cut up an old shirt or make use of a ratty towel you never use. If you would like to purchase quality cleaning rags, consider microfiber rags such as these, which will be less likely to pill up and leave strands or fibers behind.

You may also find yourself wanting a good duster, a broom, and a mop. I love this duster from Swiffer, as it attracts dust reasonably well. Any regular broom is fine, as long as it makes sweeping feel easy, and I would avoid overspending on one. I talk about mops in the section about floors, so if you’re curious, you can read more on them a bit later!

Lastly, you may be interested in a few specialty tools. A good utility brush is always helpful, although an old toothbrush works just as well. A sponge is a sponge is a sponge, but if you want to know my favorite, check out Scrub Daddy’s line of sponges, which have awesome abrasive solutions that change stiffness depending on the temperature of the water. Take care of your hands by using gloves like these, and get some pads to help when you are on your knees.

Order of Operations

If you are cultivating the habit of cleaning, I suggest starting with whatever intimidates you the least. The best way to transform cleaning from a chore into a habit that excites you is to start with whatever you feel most able to do well and can finish easily. When you end your chores feeling proud of what you accomplished, you will be more inclined to step towards cleaning in the future.

Completing tasks can be very encouraging, and completing smaller, more accessible jobs will bring you a sense of accomplishment and excite you about moving on to the next task. Once you have worked this way a few times, you will discover your own ideas for optimizing your workflow. You will uncover methods that help you work faster and avoid mistakes that slow you down.

Our Method

That said, let me share the approach we generally use when cleaning kitchens. Our methods may not suit you well, in which case, I encourage you to explore what does. But as a starting point and general rule of thumb, you might consider this order of operations:

  1. Wash and put away any dishes. If you plan on organizing your kitchen as a part of this chore, then place these dishes somewhere safe outside of your kitchen, and empty your cabinets and shelves as well.
  2. Dust or vaccuum throughout your kitchen, carefully using a ladder to start with the highest surfaces of your kitchen (which may be the top of your cabinets) and work your way down to the lowest points, allowing dust and debris to fall to the floor. A vacuum is nice for minimizing dust in the air, but a good duster works well too.
  3. Use a cleaning rag and a food-safe all-purpose cleaner to wipe down the now-dusted surfaces. If you emptied your cabinets, make sure to wipe down the inside as well. Rinse or replace your rag as you go.
  4. Once you’ve cleaned the horizontal surfaces, take a clean rag and use the same all-purpose cleaner to wipe vertical surfaces, like the faces of your cabinets and your refrigerator door. 
  5. Once your surfaces have been cleaned, move on to your appliances. We’ll dive into how to clean each appliance a little bit later in this writing, but you can also check out our complete guide on how to clean kitchen appliances for added detail!
  6. Next, clean your floors! We’ll cover this in greater detail later in this same post as well.

Well done! You have cleaned your kitchen! If you are also reorganizing, now is the time to do that work, and we have an entire guide dedicated to just that, and we also go over it later in this writing.

How to Clean your Kitchen Surfaces

Let’s get a little bit more specific. When you clean your kitchen surfaces, you’ll want to start with dusting. Before you do that, I highly encourage you to move objects from your countertop to better access every nook and cranny, as well as to prevent dust and debris from getting those things dirty. If you have the energy to empty your cabinets and drawers – maybe you also plan on reorganizing – empty them before you dust. 

Work high-to-low

Once everything is out of your way, dust high-to-low so that everything falls to the next space you dust. After you have dusted every surface to the floor, do a quick sweep of the mess so that you aren’t stepping through filth while you continue to work!

Next, take a clean rag and a food-safe, all-purpose cleaner and wipe down all of those same surfaces. Rinse or swap your rag as necessary, and once you have completed the horizontal surfaces, switch to a clean rag and clean the vertical surfaces too. If you plan on cleaning your walls, consider buying a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which is an essential product for getting stubborn marks and even grease off of walls. Then, evenly wipe the walls down with a clean, warm rag.

Rest!

Take a break! You’ve now got clean kitchen surfaces, and it was a lot of work to get there. Take some space to rest. Have a snack, sit down outside, drink some water. The point of doing this work is to take care of yourself, so take care of yourself by taking breaks while you work!

How to Clean your Kitchen Appliances

A short word on appliances:

Every appliance is different, so there is no one way to achieve clean kitchen appliances. The best way to approach cleaning them well is to read the user manual and follow the maintenance instructions. I know, I know, that’s very boring, and if you are anything like me, the manual for your oven is probably in a dump somewhere.

As dull as it is, I encourage you to find the manual online (they are usually pretty easy to find on the manufacturer’s website) and get to know the needs of your appliance. It will help you avoid mistakes that will damage your unit and help keep you safe from injury or worse. My guide to clean kitchen appliances assumes you have conventional models of popular styles!

For the sake of brevity, I have made my advice here as concise as possible. If you would like a more detailed explanation of these tips, check out my Complete Guide to Clean Kitchen Appliances!

How to Clean Your Fridge

Step 1: Empty your fridge and freezer.

You will need everything out of your way while you clean. Consider unplugging your unit, since there won’t be food in it for a short while anyway, and begin clearing it out, disposing of expired foods as you go.

Step 2: Clean the outside of your refrigerator.

Starting from the top, which is probably very dusty, apply an all-purpose cleaner or use a rag damp with soap and warm water to clean the outside of your fridge. Use a soapy toothbrush or other small utility brush to scrub at hardware, hinges, and other areas that get gunky.

Step 3: Clean the refrigerator shelves and drawers.

Remove the shelves and drawers from your refrigerator and take them to your sink or hose to be cleaned. Do not use hot water! The rapid change in temperature from a fridge to hot water can cause the glass to crack, so wash with cool, soapy water. Then set aside to dry.

Step 4: Clean the inside of your refrigerator.

While the shelves and drawers dry, take your all-purpose cleaner or a clean, soapy rag and scrub the inside of your refrigerator and freezer. When you finish scrubbing, make sure to dry the inside of your fridge with a microfiber rag.

Step 5: Organize your fridge.

Place the shelves and drawers back in your fridge once they have dried, placing them wherever best suits your organizational goals. Neatly replace all of the food you removed earlier. Check out our complete guide on how to clean refrigerators for some fantastic tips about organizing the fridge!

How to Clean Your Stove

Step 1: Consult the stove’s owner’s manual. Stoves come in a variety of styles. The traditional gas stove will need to be cleaned differently than an induction stove. Read up and stay safe! In this writing, I will focus on cleaning a gas stove.

Step 2: Remove your stovetop grates, burner caps, and gas valve knobs. Getting these components out of your way will allow you to clean the stovetop with ease, and you will need to wash these as well. Place your grates, burner caps, and gas valve knobs into a sink half-full with warm, soapy water and leave to soak while you move on.

Step 3: Begin cleaning your stovetop.

Using a rag damp with wet, soapy water, scrub the stove’s surface, gently passing over the control panel. Rinse your rag and repeat a couple of times until you have thoroughly rinsed your stovetop. After one pass, take note of the areas that need extra attention – it will usually be around the burners. Apply a small amount of soap or Softscrub directly to the stubborn spots, scrub a bit, and then allow to sit for now.

Step 4: Clean the stove’s hardware

By now, your stove’s grates, burner caps, and knobs should be well soaked. Wash these elements just as you would dishes, taking care not to damage them by scrubbing them too vigorously. Set them aside to dry once finished.

Step 5: Finish cleaning your stovetop.

Use your rag (or a non-scratch sponge, if necessary) to scrub the stubborn mess that remains on your stovetop. Rinse your rag or sponge and repeat until any soap or Softscrub residue is gone and your stovetop looks new! Once clean, replace the hardware elements to your stovetop, and call it a day!

How to Clean Your Oven

A quick word about my oven-cleaning method: In order to avoid recommending heavy-duty oven cleaners that are unsustainable and can be dangerous, I am sharing a DIY method. The trade-off is you will need to leave the DIY solution to sit for 10-12 hours. Plan accordingly!

Step 1: Make sure the oven is off and safe to clean! Don’t take any chances with your safety. Consult the owner’s manual and take necessary precautions!

Step 2: Prepare the oven. Remove everything from inside the oven. Set the racks, drip pans, and whatever else you keep in the oven to the side in your sink or bathtub. Dust them with baking soda, and spritz them with a healthy amount of white vinegar. The mixture will begin to foam. When the foaming stops, fill your sink or bathtub and leave the racks to soak overnight.

Step 3: Apply a baking soda paste to the inside of your oven. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with two tablespoons of water and continue adding small amounts of water until the mixture is a spreadable paste. Wearing gloves, use your hands to spread the baking soda paste evenly on all sides of the oven, avoiding electrical or gas heating elements. Leave the paste to sit overnight.

Step 4: Finish cleaning the oven. After allowing 10-12 hours to pass, wipe down the inside of your oven with a warm, damp rag and remove most of the paste. Next, spray inside your oven with white vinegar. As with the oven racks, you will see this mixture foam. When the foaming stops, take a clean, warm, damp rag and scrub the inside of your oven in a circular motion. Rinse the rag and repeat until you have cleaned the whole oven and no baking soda residue remains.

Step 5: Finish cleaning the oven racks. Use an abrasive sponge and scrub the oven racks you left soaking overnight until they are shiny and clean. Once any remaining filthy is gone, wipe them down with a damp rag and place them back in your oven.

How to Clean Your Microwave

Step 1: Remove the microwave turntable and turntable ring. You will wash these elements the same way you wash your dishes later. Set them aside for now. If these elements are filthy, fill your sink with warm, soapy water and let them soak.

Step 2: Mix the cleaning solution. Fill a microwave-safe bowl with equal parts water and white vinegar – 1/2 cup of each should be more than enough. 

Step 3: Heat the cleaning solution in your microwave. Place the cleaning mixture in your microwave and run it until the solution hits a rolling boil and the microwave window becomes steamy.

Step 4: Clean the inside of your microwave! Carefully remove the hot cleaning solution and use a warm, damp microfiber rag to clean the inside of your microwave. Don’t forget about the top of the microwave, as well as the microwave door! When you finish, wipe it dry with a microfiber rag.

Step 5: How to clean the outside of your microwave. As with any electronic, make sure to consult the user manual. In our experience, a warm, barely wet rag with just a dot of dish soap is a safe solution for most microwaves. Wipe down the exterior with this damp, soapy rag, and then immediately dry it with a clean, dry cloth.

Organize your Kitchen

No two minds work the same. Checking boxes off a random checklist from the first housekeeping blog you find won’t necessarily lead you to your best solution. Instead, take any advice for what it is – advice – and be conscientious about your unique needs.

Plan It Out

Before you do anything, make a clear plan. Your plan should be flexible enough to accommodate unexpected discoveries, but it should also guide you towards your goal. Familiarize yourself with your kitchen and map out the places you are confident certain things will go.

Supplies!

Get some exciting organization supplies! You can organize your kitchen without investing in supplies, and everything I recommend in this guide is possible without buying them, but if you have the means, then I couldn’t recommend this step more highly. Check out our guide to organizing your kitchen for our recommendations of the best kitchen organization supplies.

Declutter first

To start, declutter your kitchen. Empty your cabinets, drawers, and pantry. If you feel ambitious, you can even unpack your fridge and replace the grocery containers in there. Sort your items into categories in which you want them organized when you put them back. As you do, notice what you no longer need. Things you go a few months at a time without using are fine to keep, but if it has been several years since you have used that pasta maker, and you don’t expect to use it in the future, then give it away!

Start Small

Now, we organize. Start small! Look at the piles you have sorted out, and seek out the large, less used items that can be put up high or towards the back of deep cabinets. Work your way back-to-front, making the items you use most the easiest to access. You will be frustrated if you store the salad spinner you use daily on a high shelf, while the china you only use for holidays is front and center.

Get creative!

Keep an eye out for valuable spare space. Don’t ignore the tops of cabinets, empty walls, the sides of your appliances, and even the inside of your cabinet doors as usable storage space. It may take some ingenuity, but you probably have more space than you realize.

I don’t want to overlook a couple of the most frustrating items to organize: Food storage containers like Tupperware, as well as lids for pots & pans. Rather than tackle that here, check out our article covering just how to organize those more challenging items!

How to Clean Your Sink

I saved this for next to last because, in theory, you may be using your sink quite a lot as you work towards a clean kitchen. The truth is, most sink basins are pretty straightforward to clean, and if you’ve made it this far, you probably don’t need my help. That said, sinks come in various materials, and how you care for yours will depend on that material.

I still want to cover how to clean the faucets and other hardware, as they can sometimes be less straightforward than the typical sink basin. Let’s start with how to clean your faucet’s aerator.

The Aerator

Many sinks have an aerator on the faucet. An aerator is a small device that helps regulate the stream of water as it comes out, allowing for a smooth, clean-flowing stream of water. Fill a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag halfway with white vinegar. Then submerge the spout of your sink’s faucet into the white vinegar, and hold it in place with one or two rubber bands. Leave the bag there for up to an hour. You should notice the vinegar begin to brown. After an hour has passed, remove the bag and run the faucet.

The Faucet

Next, clean the outside of your faucet! Dip the head of a toothbrush in white vinegar and brush the base of the spout and on the lever that controls water flow – anywhere with a seam where water may leak. Brush thoroughly at any hard water spots or mineral deposits. Once finished, spray the faucet with a 1:1 water/peroxide or water/white vinegar mixture and wipe down with a damp rag.

The Garbage Disposal

Moving on to your garbage disposal, pour a bit of baking soda down into the unit, followed by a small amount of white vinegar. Allow a few minutes to pass until the mixture stops bubbling up. Then, cut up a lemon into small chunks (no bigger than one half of an inch each) and drop them into your garbage disposal rinds and all. Run some water and activate your garbage disposal until the water drains smoothly.

Lastly, clean your dish-washing tools! A clean sink will hardly matter if the things you use to wash your dishes are filthy. Replace your sponges regularly, clean your brushes by soaking the brush-head in white vinegar, and wash your dish-rags with the laundry.

How to Clean the Floor

By now, you have probably generated quite a lot of trash. Empty it! Are your trash can and recycle bin filthy? Take time to clean them, too. Soapy water, all-purpose cleaner, and even Clorox wipes are all suitable for this small task.

Clear the floor

Next, remove the bins and anything else taking up space on your floor. You might be tempted to clean the floor around them instead, but resist this urge! You’ve made it this far. Let’s finish strong. 

Sweep

Start by sweeping, or even vacuuming. Clear as much dust and debris as you can. Don’t skip this step! Cleaning without sweeping first will lead to you simply moving the filth around. Get as much of it up as you can. Then mop your floors.

Mop

There are a million ways to mop a floor. You could use a traditional mop, of course. I know lots of people who swear by Swiffer and Bona mops. I have even seen mops that are little more than a wooden pole with a soapy rag at the end. Mopping is just using a tool that keeps you from having to scrub the floor on your hands and needs, so use whatever you like.

Depending on how filthy your floor is, you may end up on your hands and knees anyway, as sometimes you can’t get enough pressure with a mop to scrub out the stickiest parts. If your kitchen has grout between the tile, that will probably need some special attention as well. For now, do your best with the tools you have handy, and pay special attention to the floor around your oven and beneath counters, where oil and food waste has fallen and made a mess. Then, celebrate your clean kitchen with some much-deserved rest.


I’ve learned many lessons over three decades of cleaning homes professionally, and I hope you’ve found the ones I’ve shared here helpful. Keeping a clean kitchen – and a clean home – is a habit of self-care, one which I believe everybody deserves to experience. That said, I know as well as anybody that not everybody has the time or energy to do it themselves.

Want a clean kitchen, but don’t have the time? Give us a call! We at Master Clean USA would love to help.

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