The Hardest Places to Clean in Your Kitchen and How to Clean Them
Even clever cleaners miss these sticky spots.
Your regular cleaning routine in your kitchen likely overlooks some of the dirtiest spots. Here, the sneaky nooks and crannies you’re not cleaning and how to make sure you get them spick and span swiftly.
Stove Hood & Fan
What You Need: all-purpose cleaner, microfiber cloth, baking soda, soft-bristled brush
What to Do: It’s smart to wipe down your cooktop after every meal with a grease-busting all-purpose cleaner, but there are other important elements of your stove that deserve some attention: the hood and fan. At least once every six months, spritz the hood with an all-purpose cleaner, and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth to remove grease build-up, from top to bottom. Then remove the filters covering the stove fans and vents. Run a sink full of hot water (a bathtub may be necessary for larger filters), and let the filters soak for 10 to 20 minutes. Drain the water. Sprinkle the filters with baking soda, and scrub with a soft-bristled brush to remove build-up. (A toothbrush will work.) Rinse, wipe down, and dry the filters with a microfiber cloth. Let the filters air dry completely before returning them to the hood.
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Sink (Including the Drain & Disposal)
What You Need: baking soda and soft sponge, or toothpaste and soft-bristled brush
What to Do: Your sink may not show the dirt and grime it’s holding, but after a deep scrub, you’ll realize you’ve been cleaning dishes in a nasty sink for far too long. Sprinkle baking soda all over your stainless steel sink. (For ceramic sinks, use a special cleaning product like Barkeeper’s Friend.) Use the scrubbing side of a sponge to wipe down the inside of your sink. Follow the stainless steel grain to keep it looking its best. Be sure to scrub in the drain and around the water faucet and handles, too. (Tip: Clean behind the faucet mount, too. Food and water mix back there for serious mold growth.) Then, rinse with warm water, and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.
For tough spots, use a white toothpaste or make a paste out of baking soda and lemon juice. Scrub with a soft-bristled brush, then rinse clean.
Behind Refrigerator Drawers
What You Need: dish soap, soft sponge, baking soda, microfiber cloth, toothpaste
What to Do: You try your best to keep the drawers and shelves in your fridge clean with frequent wipe downs and special refrigerator liners, but juices and other liquids can slip down into the crevices behind the drawers. Quarterly, remove the drawers completely, and use a damp sponge to wipe away the trouble spots. Warm, soapy water is best. If the stains persist, sprinkle a little baking soda on the spots, and use the scrubbing side of the sponge to gently remove the spots.
For any stubborn stains, a dab of white toothpaste and some elbow grease with the damp sponge should help.
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Fridge & Dishwasher Gaskets
What You Need: vinegar or bleach, sponge, microfiber cloth
What to Do: Don’t let the gaskets keeping cold air in your refrigerator or hot steam in your dishwasher become dirty and stiff. Keep them clean and supple with frequent cleanings. Combine a solution of half water and half vinegar or bleach. (Pure bleach will be too harsh on the rubber.) Dampen a cloth or sponge with warm water and dip into the solution. Scrub in and around the gasket to remove food, stains, grease, dirt, and hair. Pat dry with a microfiber cloth.
Finally, use a dab of mineral oil on a cloth to oil the gasket. Use more oil as necessary. This helps keep the rubber and plastic supple and flexible. Stiff gaskets may break, allowing air out of the appliances.
Refrigerator Coils & Fan
What You Need: coil brush, microfiber cloth, dish soap, sponge
What to Do: A clean refrigerator is a happy refrigerator, and that means the outside of the appliance, too. Twice a year, you should unplug your fridge and move it away from the wall so you can clean the coils and fan. Over time, hair, dust, and debris will collect on these vital portions of the machine. This may force your fridge to work harder to keep cool, and that could run up your electricity bill—and shorten the life of your appliance.
To start, unplug the fridge. Use a coil brush to remove any built up dust or debris. Do not use a liquid cleaner. Then, use a damp rag or sponge to remove any built-up dirt or dust from the condenser fan blade. Dry thoroughly with a microfiber cloth before plugging the fridge back into the electrical outlet.
What You Need: sponge, vacuum with handheld extension
What to Do: Consider it a mystery for the ages: every silverware drawer manages to accumulate food, crumbs, and debris. The best remedy to remove those nasty (bug-inviting) bits of food is to regularly empty the whole drawer, vacuum out the crumbs, and wipe down the silverware divider with a damp sponge. If you’ve got sticky spots (seriously, how does this drawer attract so much food?), use warm, soapy water to scrub away bits that don’t easily wipe off. Then, put the divider back into the drawer, and reorganize your utensils. Take the opportunity to ditch any odds and ends or broken bits, too.
Under Heating Elements of Stove
What You Need: vinegar, baking soda, metal-bristle brush, sponge, dish soap
Those metal drip pans accumulate their fair share of grease, burnt bits of food, and crumbs. But if you’re not giving them regular attention and cleaning love, they can quickly become unsightly and permanently stained. When you’re ready to clean them, fill your sink with very hot water. Add two cups of vinegar, and let the pans soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain the water, then sprinkle the drip pans with baking soda. Scrub with a sponge to remove spots. For tough stains, use a metal-bristle brush. Rinse the baking soda and food away with hot water, and repeat scrubbing any remaining spots. Dry thoroughly before returning to your stove eye.
For more kitchen cleaning tips, be sure to check out our complete guide to spring cleaning.