In 2013 I declared myself to be a Messy Cook.
- Its okay to make a mess when you’re learning to cook.
- You simply can’t focus on what you’re doing if you’re worrying about the mess.
- It makes you more organised when you learn new ways of dealing with the mess.
- It helps relationships if you improve your cleanliness over time.
- No matter how tired you are after dinner, its easier to to wash a single pot or pan and wipe over the benches than leaving it all to the weekend.
The thing is, I love to create. I focus on the cooking but when it comes to the cleaning I’ve had a lot more learning to do. Cleaning is not one of my favourite things and its not really up there on ways I love to spend my weekend. I do love it when I get an amazing sense of achievement out of having a beautifully clean kitchen – and knowing that I did it all myself. And what I didn’t know back in 2013, but was beginning to figure out in my post on Two Oven Trays and Some Steel Wool is that you can actually get amazing results from a few simple techniques and methods, especially if you schedule in a regular time for cleaning.
A Simple Schedule for Cleaning
I’ve developed a way of cleaning that means when I do clean I don’t need to do as much cleaning anymore. If you’re like me, you get scared off by a huge pile of pots and pans and just don’t want to face them. Well, its easier to just bite the bullet and do a little bit each night, weekend, or month. But then you need to schedule in a bigger clean as well.
- Wipe up spills as they happen or as soon as possible afterwards.
- Immediately get rid of food scraps and empty packages and tins.
- Wash dishes or pans immediately after dinner.
- Stack the dishwasher immediately after dinner.
On the weekends:
- Clean over the outsides of the cupboards.
- On one weekend a month clean the inside of the cupboards.
- Wipe out the microwave and clean the microwave plate (carefully – its glass and hard to replace!).
- Every second weekend wipe out the fridge, especially the vegetable crisper.
Every 1-3 months:
- Clean the crumbs out of the toaster – do this more regularly if you are a heavy user of the toaster.
- Wash out the entire fridge and freezer.
- Clean the oven (more tips on this below).
- Clean the rangehood as well as it’s filter (the extractor fan above the stove).
- Clean the dishwasher (more tips on this below).
A Simple Cleaning Formula
Different pieces of kitchen equipment need different things to clean them with, but my usual rule is to keep it simple, and try not to use too many harsh chemicals. Chemicals are bad for your hands, or for breathing in so avoid them if possible, and try not to leave the cleaning for so long as that makes the job harder. Stuck on foods and grease are always harder to clean off the longer you leave them so get in early to make cleaning a breeze.
Use a combination of bi-carb soda and white vinegar to clean the oven. There is plenty of advice out there on the internet about how to do this, but I used about a cup of bi-carb soda with enough vinegar to make a paste. Be careful when making the paste, as vinegar makes the bi-carb froth, so use a large bowl for the mixing, or add small amounts of vinegar and mix well before adding more.
To clean, remove the metal racks and any other parts of the oven that can be taken out. Then simply plaster the paste all over the dirty parts of the oven and leave the oven alone for a while. The first time I used this method I left the paste on for 24hrs as the oven was very dirty. Last time I did it I only left it for 4hrs.
When you’re ready to clean your oven, use a cloth or a cleaning sponge and get in there and give it a good scrub. Use a spray bottle with vinegar in it to spray onto the hardened bi-carb soda to wet the area and scrub the worst spots. You’ll have to do this several times over, but it works so keep at it and put in some effort (you won’t need to go to the gym today!).
After you’ve sprayed and cleaned the oven a few times clear out the dirt and wipe the oven over with warm water. Leave the oven to dry (do not turn the oven on!) and come back later to repeat the spraying with the vinegar. I discovered that when I thought the oven was clean, I’d come back a couple of days later and the oven looked like it had been snowing inside – which meant I hadn’t got all the bi-carb off – so spray that vinegar and wipe it with water twice more, even when you think you’re done.
But in the end, the oven will look pretty spectacular – I’m really proud of my results!
If you have a lot of food residue on the walls and roof of your microwave you can try this handy little tip: clean the microwave with only a lemon and water. Basically, you heat water and lemon juice in a microwave safe jug and let it sit in the microwave for a few minutes with the door closed. Then just wipe away the mess starting with the ceiling, followed by the walls and lastly the floor. Follow the instructions in the link above – its really easy!
If you don’t have the much dirt then just give the microwave a quick clean with some antibacterial spray or again using the bi-carb and vinegar. I also clean it using dish washing soap and water and that’s how I usually clean my microwave, as you can see in the picture below.
The dishwasher is actually the easiest machine to wash in the entire kitchen because you don’t actually need to do much work. At the supermarket you can buy a bottle of dishwasher cleaner that you just put in the bottom shelf of an empty dishwasher. Just run the machine at a temperature that’s hot enough (it’ll tell you this on the back of the bottle) and then the machine cleans itself. All you need to do at the end is recycle the bottle. Easy!
For more tips on dishwashers see my recent post: How to use a dishwasher for best results.
Two Simple Cleaning Methods
For all other cleaning you can use one of two methods:
- Steel wool and water.
- Dish soap and water.
Steel wool is best used for cleaning heavy duty grease and grime off metal. But you do have to be careful where you use it as the steel wool will scratch certain surfaces. If you’re not sure, read the packet. The packet of steel wool I have currently says not to use it on Teflon (non-stick pan coatings), all non-stick surfaces and self-cleaning ovens. I also use it on glass and porcelain dishes that go in the oven and need some help to get clean.
To use the steel wool just wet the pad and rub it over the grease until it comes off. The harder the grease is the more effort you need to put in it. However, most grease will come off within 30 seconds in my experience. I find it easiest to do this in a sink filled with a small amount of warm water.
- Oven trays.
- Oven shelves and other detachable oven parts.
- Stove tops (don’t use it on ceramic stove tops as they have their own special cleaners).
- Fry pans – but do not use it on the non-stick surface (the black bit) in the middle!
Dish soap and water:
Dish soap can be used for just about everything else you need to clean in the kitchen – including the dishes obviously!
You can use dish soap and water in a spray bottle or just put some in the sink or a bucket.
Use dish soap and water to clean:
- Inside and outside of kitchen cupboards.
- Splashbacks (especially mirrored ones – wipe dry with paper towel for a streakfree finish).
- The oven door (though I’ve hear that if you use the dish soap undiluted it works better).
- Benchtops and table tops.
- Stove tops (those with less grease on them).
By learning these simple yet effective cleaning tips I’ve been able to transform my Messy Cook into a pretty clean cook with a really nice kitchen.
Don’t you want that too?
Question: Have you tried any of these cleaning tips? How well did they work? Have you got any other great cleaning tips to share?