Kitchen Cleaning 101

Most importantly, be sure not to mix chemicals. When cleaning the kitchen, you may use a variety of chemicals in different cleaners, and they may not play nice with each other. They can be mixed and become dangerous even by using the same sponge with different products. Be sure to read the product labels so you know what they contain and what should not be mixed.

Make sure you use products that are safe for the surfaces you are cleaning. Some surfaces, such as granite and copper, may be damaged by some cleaners and must be cleaned with special cleaners. Other cleaners may react with certain metals like the metal found on your faucet and drain. Also be sure to wear appropriate safety gear; usually gloves.

Note- It’s best to save the counters, sink, and floor for last, as they will likely get dirty while completing the other tasks.

Now, let’s get started!


High Surfaces and Vent Hood
  • Start with the highest surfaces in the kitchen- the tops of cabinets, top of the refrigerator, and the vent hood. Dust with a dust rag or vacuum with attachment and move on to an all-purpose cleaner (or stainless steel cleaner if your hood is stainless steel) or warm, soapy water if the surface is sticky.
  • Continue cleaning the vent hood by cleaning the filters. Remove filters once a month, and soak them in a solution of hot water and dishwashing liquid. Brush gently with a plastic scrub brush to remove greasy particles; rinse and dry thoroughly before replacing.


  • Remove food, condiments, and drinks one or two shelves at a time so nothing is left out of refrigeration for too long (you can also place items in an ice chest to keep them cold). Throw away or compost any expired items. Wipe off any crumbs from the empty shelf with a dry rag. Follow up by spraying with all-purpose cleaner and wiping not only the top of the shelf, but the side and back walls and the underside of the shelf above. Replace food and drinks. Repeat until all the shelves are done, including the door compartments.
  • Next, remove the crisper bins and any other drawers. Empty their contents, sorting out anything that has gone bad. Turn over the empty drawer over the sink or trash to remove crumbs. Next, either wash with soap and water in the sink or wipe down with all-purpose purpose cleaner (rinse for food safety if applicable). Also wipe down the bottom of the fridge and the walls that are usually hidden by the drawers. Replace food and put the drawer back in the fridge. If your drawers do not come out easily, empty and clean them with all-purpose cleaner where they are.


  • Wipe out any crumbs with a dry rag. Fill a microwave-safe mug, bowl, or measuring cup with 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup water. Microwave it for 2-3 minutes (depending on your microwave’s power) until it starts to boil and steam forms on the window. Leave the microwave closed for 5-10 minutes, allowing the steam to loosen the grime. Use oven mitts to take out the mug (Be careful; it will be very HOT!) and the turntable. The mess will wipe up easily with a rag or sponge! You may want to wet the rag or sponge with the vinegar and water mix to help clean. Allow the turntable to cool and clean it in the sink with dish soap and water.
  • It is extremely rare, but it is possible for liquid to “explode” if it is microwaved in a vessel with perfectly smooth sides. Most dishes, even glass ones that feel smooth to the touch, have tiny imperfections on the surface. These imperfections allow a place for bubbles to form when the liquid gets hot and boils. If there are no imperfections, bubbles cannot form and the heat can continue to build until the dish is bumped, either by the motion of the turntable or by you when you remove the dish, resulting in an “explosion” of hot liquid. To avoid this, simply add a wooden toothpick to the dish. The wood provides an imperfect surface for the bubbles to form.


  • Wipe up any crumbs with a dry rag and remove the knobs, if applicable. Spray with an all-purpose cleaner and let sit for several minutes and wipe clean. For more stubborn residue, make a paste with Bar Keepers Friend (regular or cooktop cleaner, depending on your cooktop) and let it sit on the spot for a few minutes as directed on the label. Then scrub with a scrub brush or scrubby sponge (using steel wool or other harsh scrubbers may scratch your cooktop, especially ceramic/glass cooktops). If residue still remains, use a clean razor blade to CAREFULLY and GENTLY scrape away residue. Keep the blade parallel to the surface to avoid scratching. Other good options for cooktop cleaners include Carbona Ceramic Cooktop Power Cleaner and Easy-Off Cooktop Cleaner Cream (use as directed on the label).
  • To clean plastic knobs, soak them in warm, soapy water, scrub gently with a sponge, and dry. Stainless steel knobs should be cleaned with stainless steel cleaner (instructions for cleaning stainless steel can be found further down this page, under “Appliance Surfaces”). Once clean, reinstall them on the cooktop.
  • To clean the cooktop grates found over gas burners or the drip pans under electric burners, first try soaking in warm, soapy water and scrub. If the grates or drip pans have greasy buildup that won’t come off with soaking or scrubbing, place them in a sealed bag with 1/4 cup ammonia and place the bag(s) outside. Let them sit overnight and remove (there will be fumes). Wipe if needed and rinse well. Dry thoroughly and return them to the cooktop.
  • It is not necessary for the 1/4 cup of ammonia to cover the grates or drip pans fully. It is the fumes of ammonia that do the work.


  • Wipe up any crumbs with a dry rag and wipe up any spills with an all-purpose cleaner.
  • Deep-clean the oven every few months or as needed. Remove the racks and soak them in warm, soapy water for several hours in a tub, storage container, or even a kiddie pool. Scrub with a scouring pad, then rinse and dry. If they have really stubborn residue that doesn’t come off with scrubbing, try the ammonia method described in the section above.
  • With the racks removed, spread a paste made from baking soda and water over the interior surface of the oven, being sure to keep the coils and other sensitive areas clean. Let it sit overnight or at least 12 hours (the baking soda may turn brown). When it’s time, wipe out as much of the baking soda as possible with a wet rag, rinsing the rag often in the sink. Use a spray bottle to spritz vinegar over any surfaces with baking soda residue and wipe to a shine.
  • To clean the window, spread another paste of baking soda and water over the interior glass. Let sit for 30 minutes and wipe clean.
  • You can follow the same instructions using a paste made from Bar Keepers Friend instead of baking soda, but only let it sit for the time allowed on the product’s label.
  • For further instructions, please see “How to Clean Your Ovens.”


  • First, read your manual to see if it gives specific cleaning instructions. If not, do the following: Remove the filter and soak it in warm, soapy water until the residue softens. Scrub with a scrub brush to remove residue. Reinstall the filter. Clean the sides of the door with an all-purpose cleaner or warm, soapy water.
  • Once a month, use a dishwasher cleaner, like Affresh, and use as directed on the label, or add 1/2 cup Borax and/or 1/2 cup CLR to the empty dishwasher. Run the heavy duty/pots and pans cycle.
  • For further instructions, please see “How to Clean Your Dishwasher.”


Appliance Surfaces
  • Clean the surface of both large and small appliances with an appropriate cleaner based on your product’s labels.
  • Stainless Steel Appliances – Stainless steel cleaners work better than anything else at cleaning stainless steel to a streak-free shine. Spray the cleaner on a microfiber cloth and wipe the surface using long, straight movements in the direction of the grain (the faint lines on the surface). Wipe again in the same fashion with a clean microfiber cloth to remove any residual cleaner. Use different colored cloths or label them “on” and “off” to keep them separate. Cerama Bryte Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish is a good choice.
  • White, Black, etc. Appliances and Plastic Appliances – Use an all-purpose cleaner or warm, soapy water and a soft cloth. Use a toothbrush to get all the tight spaces like around handles. Dry with a soft cloth, if necessary.


  • As needed, clean out the pantry. Take all the food off the shelves, checking for expired or unwanted food as you go, and wipe down with an all-purpose cleaner or cleaner that is safe for the pantry surface. Replace food, organizing by putting food in categories (breakfast, snacks, baking, etc.) or by container type (cans, boxes, bags, etc.).


Trash and Recycling Cans
  • Wipe down the inside and outside of the trash cans with an antibacterial wipe, like Clorox or Lysol wipes. If the can is stainless steel, follow with a stainless steel cleaner to remove any streaking.
  • If there is a large amount of residue and it is safe for the can to get wet, take it outside and scrub it down with dish soap and water and allow to dry. An all-purpose cleaner like Mr. Clean or Pine-Sol can also be used (use as directed on the label).


Walls and Ceiling
  • As needed, wipe the walls and ceiling with a rag dampened with warm, soapy water or an all-purpose cleaner to clean off any food particles.
  • Note- Flat paint (as opposed to eggshell, semi-gloss, or gloss finish) needs to be treated more carefully and most kinds should not be cleaned with soap and water.


  • As needed, dust and clean the cabinets. First, dust the cabinets, especially on any horizontal edges. Then, if your cabinets are stained wood, use a wood cleaner like Murphy’s Oil Soap and follow the directions on the label. If your cabinets are painted wood or enamel, use a rag dampened with warm, soapy water to clean off any foreign matter and dry thoroughly.
  • If wood is scratched or dull from dryness, they should be stripped of their polish and repainted. If this is not financially feasible and you want a quick fix, you can use a rejuvenating product such as Old English Scratch Repair (be sure to use appropriate stain darkness). This will not be a permanent fix and may come off when cleaning off the grime, but it can be a fiscally responsible ‘quick fix’ that will slow further damage from occurring.


  • Clear off the counter and unplug any appliances before cleaning. Wipe of the counter with a clean dry rag to remove crumbs. Then, spray with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe it down. Be sure to move all appliances and clean up behind and under them.
  • If you need to sanitize the counter, follow the steps above, rinsing well to remove residual cleaner. Spray with an antibacterial cleaner or a bleach solution (1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon water). Allow the bleach to sit for 5 minutes and rinse with hot water or let it evaporate. If using an antibacterial cleaner, read the instructions to find how long it needs to sit and if you need to rinse afterwards.


  • Spray the sink and faucet with an all-purpose cleaner. For more hardened deposits or stains, use a soft-scrub or mild abrasive cleaner instead, like Bar Keepers Friend or Comet (Do NOT mix products, and be sure the product is safe for your sink surface.). Scrub it down with a sponge or handled brush, adding water or cleaner as necessary. Use a toothbrush to get all the crevices like around the faucet and drain. Rinse well.
  • If you need to sanitize the sink, follow the steps above, rinsing very well to remove residual cleaner, and spray with an antibacterial cleaner or a bleach solution (1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon water). Allow the bleach to sit for 5 minutes and rinse with hot water or let it evaporate. If using an antibacterial cleaner, read the instructions to find how long it needs to sit and if you need to rinse afterwards.


  • Save this step for the end. Pick everything up off the floor, then sweep up dust and debris. Mop/clean with the appropriate method/cleaners (see “How to Clean Your Floors“). If you have tile or vinyl flooring, use a mop and floor cleaning solution, such as Mr. Clean. A steam mop is also a great choice for killing germs without the use of harsh chemicals on tile or vinyl flooring. Don’t forget to vacuum behind the refrigerator. If possible, pull the refrigerator out and vacuum the coils with the brush attachment to keep it running efficiently.


Helpful Tips
  • Make easy, economical cleaning rags by cutting up an old knit t-shirt. No need to hem the edges because knit fabric doesn’t fray. Thicker white t-shirts work best (men’s undershirts are pretty flimsy and don’t work as well). A good general size is 9″x9″, but you may prefer larger or smaller. Be sure to make plenty; you’ll need a new cloth for each surface and each cleaner you use. They also work great for quick clean ups and as a replacement for paper towels.



Bleach for sanitizing food surfaces-


By Heather DeVoll