In many homes, the kitchen is the most used room. Here is where food is kept, prepared, and often eaten. In days gone by and still in some homes, the kitchen is the gathering place for family and friends. Folks gather around a table to eat, share conversation, do homework, and lay out plans for upcoming projects. In a lot of newer homes, there is a bar creating a semi- wall or central island where stools are placed, and most of the eating takes place. Here are some tips to help in maintaining a kitchen to avoid an almost overwhelming job of cleaning when this area is not kept in top condition.
Probably the first thing that comes to mind is dishes. Many jokes have centered around dirty dishes in the sink. In truth, it isn’t funny to have a sink full of dirty dishes. Leftover food quickly spoils and breeds germs, bacteria, odors, and it can be a difficult job getting dried-on food off at a later date. All who use the kitchen should be willing to care for their dishes as soon (or very soon after) as they are finished eating or cooking. It is ideal to have a dishwasher but not a necessity. There are many good dish detergents on the market to make washing dishes easy. Letting dishes air-dry is considered appropriate, but later that day or the next, the clean dishes should be put away. When organizing a kitchen, try to have the cupboards and drawers where dishes are kept close to the washing area. Keep a good supply of clean, soft, absorbent towels handy when drying is needed. Teach all who use the dishwasher the best way to load and unload to maximize the ability of the dishwasher to clean properly.
Stove and oven are often used several times a day. This appliance should be wiped clean after each use. Burners or the more up-to-date glass/ceramic stove top need to be wiped as well. The cook top has special cleaners but for day to day use a warm, damp cloth followed by dying with soft paper towels or cloth works. When using the oven any spills during it use should be wiped up immediately. Whenever there are large, burned-on spills as well as when needed, the oven should be cleaned thoroughly. Many ovens are now self-cleaning, but you can still buy oven cleaner (be very careful as these cleaners are very toxic both to lungs and skin) or you can make your oven cleaner using soap, baking powder, steel wool, and elbow grease. A soaped, steel wool pad is also helpful for getting off burned-on spills. Wipe the inside of the oven with clean, wet clothes to remove all residue of cleaning materials. Dry with a soft cloth. You can purchase a special liner to put on the bottom shelf of your oven to catch drips. Wipe clean as needed.
Refrigerator/freezer is another well-used appliance in the kitchen. This appliance is also subject to a big cleaning job if not maintained regularly. Putting items in and taking items out will often result in spills. If not cleaned right away, the spill will harden and become difficult to remove at a later date. Too, odors will develop, which can be absorbed by other foods. At least once a week wipe the outside of the refrigerator with a damp cloth followed by drying with a soft cloth. For stainless steel refrigerators, there are excellent commercial cleaners if needed. Keeping an opened box or two of baking soda, changed monthly, helps keep the inside of a fridge fresh and absorbs most odors.
Other appliances, which can include dishwasher, toaster, microwave, toaster oven, blender, crock pot, can opener, and coffee maker need to be wiped down and cleaned internally as needed. Use of an appliance requires the user to make sure it is ready for the next person who needs it.
Garbage disposal can quickly become a source of unpleasant odors if it is not thoroughly cleaned as often as needed. The more it is used, the more frequently it should be cleaned. Take paper towels and wipe down inside to remove the build up on the rubber lining. Then fill the sink with hot, soapy water and let that run through the disposal while it is on. If the disposal is extra dirty, a mixture of 1 cup vinegar poured on top of ¼ cup baking soda should finish the job. Rinse with hot water and finally take a small lemon or lime and cut it up and let the disposal grind it down.
Floors need to be swept daily, sometimes more than once. A lot depends on the number of children, pets, and muddy shoes using the kitchen floor, Depending on floor type will determine what cleaning method to use, but generally, a damp paper towel will remove small spills and stains. The secret is to clean up dirt and messes as they occur.
Counters should be wiped clean after each use. Sometimes stains occur which are difficult to get off. Use of a “magic eraser” will usually do the trick.
Wow, there is a lot to consider when trying to maintain a clean kitchen. However, if all who use the kitchen can be shown how to pick-up and clean-up each time he or she cooks or eats, the job can be shared and will be done consistently.