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5 Kitchen Cleaning Tasks We're All Guilty of Overlooking

Open concept white marble kitchen.

Marie Flanigan Interiors

You’ve got your kitchen cleaning routine down to a science: wipe the counters and the sink each night, run the dishwasher, and toss expired items on occasion. It keeps things feeling neat and tidy on a day-to-day basis, but are you really getting your kitchen clean? The answer could be no. 

There are deep cleaning tasks that you should do on a seasonal or even monthly basis that you might be forgetting—or, ahem, putting off. From addressing grease build-up to moving out your larger appliances and sweeping up those dust bunnies, these are tasks that could shorten the lifespan of your kitchen appliances if left unaddressed. Plus, trust us, once you work these into your regular cleaning routine, you’ll be shocked at how much cleaner, like truly clean, your kitchen feels.

But, before you get started, make sure your supplies are in working order to put some power behind your elbow grease. Liz Jenkins, the owner of Nashville-based professional organization company A Fresh Space, says “One area that often gets overlooked is organizing under the kitchen sink. This is typically where all of the cleaning supplies live, and when it is a hot mess down there, things get lost, spilled, or forgotten."

So, with cleaning products organized and at the ready, let’s get into it.

Meet the Expert

Liz Jenkins is owner of Nashville-based professional organization company, A Fresh Space.

01 of 05

Clean and Sanitize Your Dishwasher

how to clean your dishwasher

Design: Jessica Nelson; Photo: Carina Skrobecki Photography

Your dishwasher filter should be emptied and cleaned once a month—yes, once a month. Jenkins tells us, “One of my personal cleaning tasks often overlooked by many people is cleaning the filter in the dishwasher. These get disgusting in just a short amount of time, and if not cleaned can really impact the efficacy of the dishwasher. This is why we always buy a new dishwasher when we move.”

Once you’ve emptied the filter, run your dishwasher on its hottest setting with a cup of white vinegar on the top rack. Then, run it again with baking soda sprinkled across the bottom. Three easy steps and you’ve cleaned, sanitized, and deodorized. 

02 of 05

Wipe Down the Cabinets, the Backsplash, and Even the Ceiling

Pretty clean kitchen with black pendant lighting over island.

Amber Pierce Designs

The cabinets are one of the most surprising places that most people don’t think to clean. Yet, with one swipe of a wet cloth, you’ll be shocked at the amount of grease and dust that can accumulate on the cabinet exteriors, particularly those near the oven. The same applies to the backsplash and even the ceiling—just wait until you get a ladder to check out the molding near your stovetop. Wiping it down is one of those disgustingly satisfying tasks.

While you’re at it, pull out the vacuum attachment or even a Swiffer cloth, empty out your cabinets, and get all those pesky crumbs out of everything from the silverware drawer to your glassware shelf.

03 of 05

Use Dish Soap and Water to Clean Your Fridge and Freezer

Neat and organized inside of fridge.

A Fresh Space

We all love a beautiful fridge with drawers of fresh vegetables and berries on darling plates. But, is your fridge really food-safe? Once a quarter, you should take everything out of your fridge, and wipe it all down with grease-cutting dish soap and hot water. You can do the same thing in the freezer and the warm water will melt the ice just enough to clean it. For spots that need a bit more attention, use a half-and-half water and vinegar mix.

 While you have the fridge empty, use this opportunity to clean out and organize. “The new frontier in kitchen organizing is the refrigerator," Jenkins says. "Especially with people being home more over the last year or so, buying habits have changed, as well as more of us working, cooking, and eating at home."

The fridge has become a challenge, as it has filled up with way more than it ever held previously. Jenkins recommends a quarterly cleanout or more where everything comes out, expired foods are tossed, the shelves are wiped down, and items are categorized and zoned.

"We typically add clear bins or stacking drawers to hold groupings like dairy, condiments, snacks, or lunch prep," she notes. "This keeps it clean and tidy and reduces food waste.”

04 of 05

Clean Out Your Appliances—Not Just the Microwave

Milk and Honey Life

Milk and Honey Life

Toasters and coffee makers get used daily, but how often do you clean them? Speaking from experience, most of us move the toaster, brush the crumbs into the trash, and call it a day. However, you can actually clean the exterior with the same dish soap and water mixture from the fridge and, for many toasters, there’s an interior tray that can be removed and washed. Additionally, you can take a clean toothbrush or paintbrush to knock the crumbs out of the inside—just make sure it’s unplugged first.

Your coffee maker, on the other hand, should be cleaned once a quarter to get rid of mineral deposits from water and reduce the bitterness that can develop. Run a water and vinegar mixture through your coffee maker. For your espresso machine, either espresso cleaning tablets or water and vinegar can be used. 

05 of 05

Move Your Large Appliances

Clean kitchen with black stools and navy blue island.

Mary Patton Design

This is one you may not be forgetting, but you might be putting off. It’s not an easy task to take on, but it can help extend the life of your larger appliances and that’s a cost savings that’s worth it. Once a year, you should wheel your refrigerator out to clean out behind the fridge and spend special attention vacuuming the refrigerator coils. You can clean behind your oven on the same schedule. 

If you’re feeling ambitious, here are a few smaller cleaning tasks you can knock out in a few minutes: remove your oven knobs and clean behind them, clean your range’s filter—it’s greasy, we guarantee it—run your disposal with baking soda, vinegar, and lemon, or clean your trash can with that same trusty dish soap and water solution. Now, aren’t you feeling sparkly clean?