How to keep your kitchen clean even if you’re not good at cleaning

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Since I got back from my holiday I’ve been holed up at home sick so I’ve been lying on the couch watching shows like Hotel Hell, Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Impossible and Restaurant Impossible and I see the same problems cropping up each time the TV shows tackle a failing hotel or restaurant – it’s always the cleanliness (or mostly lack of) that sees the restaurant or hotel in crisis mode. And it got me to thinking; sometimes its the people who make it dirty, sometimes its because they don’t care, other times its because the lack of cleanliness is the sign of a deeper problem.

And I realise how true this can be for anyone – when the dirt piles up chaos can ensue at home, even if you live alone. On this account, I am ashamed to say it, but 7 years ago my home was an absolute mess. However, I put those days behind me, solved my dramas and now have a sparkling home. You can drop in unexpectedly any day of the week and my house is clean and tidy. Even the kitchen is pretty good mid-week. So as I lay on the couch thinking about these shows I decided to do some research into better cleaning techniques and I found a whole lot of information I’d like to share with you today so that you don’t need a professional TV chef or hotelier coming to your home to give you some order back in your kitchen.

As the kitchen is usually the heart of the home, and it’s such a busy space, that’s where the mess often builds up and it’s usually the first place we lose our handle on cleanliness. We’re all busy, some of us have to clean up after a brood of kids, and others have study deadlines that take time away from cleaning, or you work full time like I do and there never seems to be enough minutes in the day to get everything done. Maybe you have the time and love to cook but you always leave the cleaning becase its too hard (I did that for a long time). Or you could just hate cleaning, like I did. But maybe, just maybe, with the following few tips you might be able to battle all these things and still come out with a clean kitchen.

How to keep your kitchen clean
(even if you’re not good at it)

Problem 1 – You haven’t educated yourself about how to do it

I’m not expecting you to know how to clean a kitchen if you’ve never done it before. If you’re straight out of home and been lucky enough to have someone else do all the cleaning for you then it can be hard to suddenly start doing it. There’s so many unanswered questions when you’re new: Do you clean the kitchen every day, every week, every month? How often should you clean the stove, the oven or the microwave? What do you use to clean everything? And how many products do you really need to have; is it one for each area??

Even if you have been cleaning for a while there might be things you don’t know how to clean, or you know that you could improve the way you’ve been cleaning. For instance, I’ve been cleaning my place on weekly basis for 6 years now but it wasn’t until about 6 months ago that I realised I wasn’t cleaning the filter in the rangehood (the fan over the stove) and I didn’t know how to do it because it was greasy and didn’t seem to respond to my first attempts. I also knew I wanted to stop cleaning my oven with chemicals so I educated myself about both issues. I learnt how to clean my oven with bicarb soda and vinegar. I also discovered the website Clean My Space, run by Melissa Maker in Toronto, and she’s educated me on how to clean my entire house, not just my kitchen!

Here’s a look at her kitchen cleaning tips:

So make sure you do a bit of internet research or borrow a book from the library that gives you some great tips on how to clean the correct way. And don’t forget to ask the people around you – your mother, your grandmother, your great uncle Vinny who’s always lived alone and your super clean freak colleague will all have some tips to share with you so you’ll know exactly what you should be doing.

Problem 2 – You don’t have the right tools

Now, as you can see from Melissa’s video, and if you’ve ever seen a professional cleaner at work, you will need some specific tools for cleaning. Cloths, sponges, and dishwashing liquid are your basics for the kitchen. From there you’ll want to have some steel wool, bicarb soda, vinegar and a multi-purpose spray or wipes. But don’t go overboard: you don’t really need one product for the oven, another for the stove, another for the stainless steel, another for the fridge. Most surfaces can be cleaned using normal dishsoap and hot water or with a combination of bicarb soda and vinegar. And the more often you clean them the easier it becomes to clean with these simple and safe products. A bit of elbow grease or some soaking will help, but if you can clean something straight away then you’re guaranteed an easier more effective cleaning job that takes a lot less time.

Problem 3 – You make things complicated for yourself

Don’t keep the cleaning cloth for the kitchen in the bathroom or the laundry with your other cleaning supplies. You’ll be forced to walk away from the mess to get the cloth, you’ll get distracted or someone will walk through the mess before you get it cleaned up. These are the kind of silly moves you want to avoid – because they just complicate the cleaning process and you probably find it hard enough already!

Keep a cloth, the dishwashing liquid, a sponge and a brush on the sink for every day cleaning. You can scrape the food off the plates with the brush, wash the dishes with the sponge and dishwashing soap, and wipe over the benches with the cloth. For larger cleaning sessions get out the multi-purpose cleaner and the paper towel or the bicarb and vinegar. Keep everything close, have them topped up and change them regularly. Make it easier to clean rather than harder by having everything you need at hand – and if you combine that with cleaning something straight after it’s used then you’ve made life a lot easier.

Problem 4 – You don’t have a system for cleaning

The simplest way to make sure you get everything cleaned is to have a system, and the simplest system you can have is a checklist. My checklist for the kitchen lets me know what I’m going to clean and when. My daily cleaning includes wiping down benches and tables and stacking the dishes in the dishwasher. My weekly clean includes wiping over the stove top, cleaning the splashback, doing any dishes/pots not already cleaned during the week and vacuuming and/or mopping the floors. Once a month I also clean the cupboard doors, check and clean inside the cupboards and dust the shelves of my kitchen trolley.

Make a list of all the things you need to clean in your kitchen and then decide which ones need doing each day, week and month. And then follow your new checklist, using your new skills and the right cleaning tools, and cleaning will become a breeze.

Problem 5 – You’re not looking into the forgotten places

Well, they are called ‘forgotten’ for a reason, but at least once a month you need to look in all the small places that aren’t part of your usual cleaning process. Check places like under and behind the fridge, inside cupboards and under the cutlery in the cutlery draw. I also have a gas stove so the cast iron racks need a wipe down and I always forget to do those even though they are in plain sight.

Take a minute to look around the kitchen and find a few of these forgotten places. It might be as simple as wiping the top of the fridge or emptying the toaster but they’re jobs that need doing occasionally.

And a clean kitchen will help you pursue your cooking dreams. You can’t cook if everything is dirty, and you’ll certainly lose motivation for eating well if it’s too hard to get into the kitchen and get everything sorted now.

Which areas of the kitchen do you least like to clean? Are you a fan of using bicarb and vinegar as well?

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