You waited your whole life for a clean, crisp white kitchen, scouring Pinterest and Instagram for ideas and inspiration. But, now that you have one, you may be asking yourself, “What was I thinking?”
Every splatter of sauce on a countertop, every fingerprint on a cabinet door, every morsel of food on the floor can be seen with the naked eye. The good news is that although white kitchens can be unforgiving, there are some things you can do to keep things looking spotless.
Ahead, find tips from top cleaning experts on how to keep your white kitchen looking pristine.
Meet the Expert
- Melissa Homer is Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro.
- Melissa Maker is the founder of Clean My Space, a housekeeping service and YouTube channel in Canada.
- Becky Rapinchuk is the author of Clean Mama's Guide to a Peaceful Home and founder of the Clean Mama website.
Wipe Down Cabinets Often
“Fingerprints, dirt, and splatters will make white cabinets look dirty fairly quickly,” Melissa Maker says. “It’s important to be vigilant and clean up after each food splash, and give your cabinets a wipe down at least twice a month to help stop dirt buildup before it starts.”
To clean, mix warm water and a few drops of dish or Castile soap in a spray bottle, spritz, and wipe with a microfiber cloth from top to bottom and left to right, drying as you go, Becky Rapinchuk suggests. A Magic Eraser can be helpful as well, just be sure to test one in a hidden spot to ensure sure it doesn’t scratch your cabinet’s finish, Maker notes.
A good range hood will absorb cooking oils before they can yellow your cabinets so be sure to keep your fan on while at the stove.
Clean Sinks Nightly
White sinks can show off food residue like no other, which is why Rapinchuk swears by her nightly sink cleaning routine.
“I blend a few drops of essential oil with two cups of baking soda and store the mixture in a jar,” she says. “At night, I’ll scoop and sprinkle a tablespoon or two into an empty wet sink, drizzle on some dish soap and scrub, rinse, and dry.”
Our experts suggest avoiding abrasive products and strong chemicals like bleach and acetone, which can scratch sink surfaces, and to opt instead for a cleaner that will add shine and protection by creating an invisible water repellent, such as Hope’s Perfect Sink.
Wipe Up Spills ASAP
Spills should be wiped up quickly to avoid staining, Homer says, and notes all floors can benefit from a multi-purpose cleaner like Mr. Clean Antibacterial Cleaner with Summer Citrus and a quality microfiber flat mop.
Porcelain, marble, ceramic, and vinyl tiles also do well with a steam mop, but avoid using one on painted wood floors as the high heat and water can cause warping and the paint to peel, Rapinchuk cautions.
Consider a sealant if you have a stone, marble, or porcelain floor, which works by filling pores in the tile and grout to prevent dirt from settling in. One to try: Miracle Sealant S511 Impregnator Sealer.
Don't Forget Your Walls
White walls can make a room feel open and bright, but they can also reveal every little smear and smudge. “Wipe down splatter with an all-purpose cleaner before it has time to dry and stain,” Melissa Homer says, and suggests a durable flat paint that’s resistant to scuffs, like Behr Ultra Pure White Extra Durable Flat Interior Paint & Primer.
Magic Erasers can work magic on white walls, but beware of using them too often in one spot, as they can damage more delicate paints. “For greasy marks, pat on some cornstarch, allow it to sit for a few minutes to absorb oils, then scrape off the residue with a dull edge,” Maker says. “Wipe the area with soapy water and a cloth before rinsing and drying.”
Wipe Down White Appliances
"White appliances aren’t necessarily harder to keep clean, they’re just more noticeable when dirty,” Homer says. Frequent wiping is the only solution to removing visible grime, aside from more frequent hand washing.
Keep a tub of disinfecting wipes or some microfiber towels and a spray bottle of your favorite all-purpose cleaner on hand in your kitchen. “A Magic Eraser can be a game changer on old school textured white refrigerators,” Homer adds. “And if there’s a stain or discoloration, you can add a bit of hydrogen peroxide to the eraser or try using a steam cleaner.”
Try a DIY Cleaner
Experts agree there’s a DIY cleaning solution that works well on all white countertops, including marble, granite, quartz, and laminate. Mix 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1/4 teaspoon dish or Castile soap in a spray bottle, then spritz counters and wipe with a microfiber.
That said, it’s important to seal your marble and granite countertops regularly to keep dirt at bay. “Technically, quartz doesn’t need to be sealed, but doing so will enhance its shine and help stains bead up for easier cleaning,” Homer notes.
Invest in the Right Supplies
Wiping up spills quickly will keep food from burning onto the stovetop and require less elbow grease to clean. For glass cooktops, Homer likes specialty polishes like Weiman Glass Cook Top Cleaner & Polish, which eliminates stubborn stains and enhances shine, while Maker recommends Scotch-Brite Glass Cooktop Pads.
For gas stoves, Homer suggests soaking the grates in hot water and dish soap in your sink to cut down on scrubbing. “If either your gas or electric stovetop has gotten really bad, Bar Keepers Friend Cooktop Cleaner is a secret of cleaning pros, as it deeply yet safely cleans and restores neglected surfaces,” she says.
All-Purpose Cleaner Goes a Long Way
White backsplashes benefit from regular cleanings before tomato splatters become tomato stains, and most do well with a spritz of an all-purpose cleaner. “A glass or tile backsplash can benefit from an equal mixture of vinegar and water, plus a few drops of dish soap in warm water,” Maker notes.
Clean stone backdrops with a solution of two parts water to one part rubbing alcohol and a few drops of dish soap, or try a specialty stone cleaner such as Method Daily Granite.
Stubborn grease spots can be wiped away with a mixture of equal parts dish soap and baking soda, or try swiping a paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol over the area a few times.
Pre-Treating is Key
It’s important to pre-treat white fabrics prior to use and apply a protectant—such as 303 Fabric Guard or Scotchgard Fabric Protector—to make the fabric water repellent, nearly stain proof, and a lot easier to clean.
“If you’ve already got stains, Woolite INSTA Clean with Oxy can do wonders to bring your white fabric back to life, but be sure to use fresh water to rinse out the soap and blot it dry with a towel once the fabric has whitened,” Homer says.