Today I got the phone call that I’m quite used to. My husband is in the military and it’s time to move…again. We have walked about 5 times in the last 18 years so it was no surprise. After having moved many times, you get used to the drill: clean house, list house on the market, hope to sell quickly. One thing I’ve learned over the years selling and buying homes is that clean kitchens really help sell a home.
If there is one problem in any kitchen it is dirt. He is the hidden culprit. It hides in grease, on appliances and even window blinds. It’s the annoying relative that just won’t go away.
With so many moves under my belt, I have a few ‘hacks’ that are tried and true and help my kitchen shine. I never know when I’ll get the ‘we’re moving call’ so these help keep me on my toes.
Let’s look at my top 5 kitchen hacks.
Kitchen hack #1: The microwave
Spills and blow-ups in the microwave are inevitable. They happen no matter how much I plan for them not to. Why? I have children. Enough said.
I tried putting lemons in the microwave and I tried using vinegar. The problem I encountered was that I didn’t have lemons or vinegar on hand. So, now I have a method that is a sure winner: paper towels. I always have them on hand and who knew they could be used for such a dirty job.
Take four or five paper napkins. Soak them in water. Leave them a little (you still want them to have a lot of moisture in them but you don’t necessarily want them wet). Place them on your microwave tray. Heat them on high for 4 or 5 minutes. When the buzzer goes off, wait a minute or so before opening the door. The wet paper towels will release steam which will make wiping the gunk off much easier. Besides, you probably already have a roll in your house.
Kitchen hack #2: The stove
I know most of you have a preference for your cook top. You either love gas or electric and never switch. I’m with you.
I prefer to cook on a gas stove. But, the only thing I don’t like is cleaning the burners. I usually let them get a lot of build-up on them before I clean them which is the wrong thing to do. But in such cases, I found a good way to breed them clean.
Ammonia is the trick. I put each burner in a plastic bag with a tight sealed top (think zipper or zip lock). Then I put about a tablespoon or two of ammonia in the bag and seal it. The goal is not to soak the entire burner. The goal is to use ammonia (fumes) to dissolve the dried on food spill. Let it sit for about 12 hours or even overnight.
*Important note*: When using ammonia, you need a LOT of ventilation. Open your widows or if the weather permits, put your burners in the bags and add the ammonia outside. Also, if the weather permits, place the plastic bags on a tray or in a dish and put them outside overnight.
In the morning, with proper ventilation, remove the burner from the bag. Seal the bag and put it in the trash. Clean the burner thoroughly. You can use the rough side of a kitchen sponge to go over the burners that need extra attention.
Kitchen hack #3: The oven
In the past, I’ve been guilty of tossing frozen pizza in the oven directly onto the rack. I was also guilty of not cleaning up the cheese that fell on the rack below and ultimately on the bottom of the oven. Over the years, I’ve learned that I don’t like cleaning the oven so my hacks are tried and true.
The easiest way to quickly clean the oven is to use foil. I line the shelves with foil and close the sides and front and back. Makes cleaning up a little. Once the food particles increase, I can quickly throw away the foil and add a new sheet.
Another idea is to put a sheet of foil on the bottom of the oven. In case you don’t want to line each rack, foil on the bottom can catch the food particles as well. I suggest you check your manufacturers instructions before using foil on the bottom of your oven.
Kitchen hack #4: The oil splash
Cooking on the stove is a quick and easy way to get a meal on the table. Whether you use cooking spray or oil in your pan, at some point in the cooking process, the oil can spill out of the pan. It’s easy to miss because it’s hard to see.
If you do not clean the surface of your stove after each use, it is easy for oil splashes to mix with regular household dust. Dust is something that is easy to lose in the kitchen. It’s something so small that we often don’t see it unless we’re looking for it.
If you have a microwave on your stove or if you have tiles as your backsplash behind your stove or if you have a stove top and you cook, you have a nice layer of dust + grease! You have no shame. It’s easy to miss.
You can use any number of cleaning products or even soap and water to clean oil but oil and water do not mix. Try using mineral oil. Put a few drops on a paper towel and wipe the face. You will be amazed how clean the face becomes. Afterwards, wipe the same area with a clean paper towel. Yes, there will be some oil left over but that will help with your next cleaning.
Kitchen hack #5: Hidden dust and dirt
How often do you really clean under your appliances? If you’re like me, the answer is never. I met someone years ago who was obsessed with cleaning and she gave me a good tip.
I sweep the kitchen floor every week. (With children, you must). But I sweep around my fridge and oven, never under. An easy tip to get back the dirt and dust that collects there is to use a long flat object (think yard stick). Take an athletic sock (or one that is ‘tall’) and wet it with water. Place the yard stick in the sock, secure it with a rubber band and there you have it… an easy way to clean under your appliance.
Bonus kitchen hacks
Friends, I have two more hacks that have come in handy over the years and I’d hate to not share them with you. These involve a sock and a toilet bowl cleaner.
I had wooden blinds and even plastic blinds in a few of my kitchen windows. Dust and dirt always seem to collect there without me knowing (probably because I choose not to look)! By far the easiest way to clean blinds: Dig into your lost sock drawer, pull one out, wet it, stick your hand in and get to work. The sock allows you to easily get a grip of each individual blind and on both sides. Do not forget to wash the sock as necessary.
Finally, if you have tiles on your kitchen floor or even your counter, you know how hard it is to keep grout clean. It is almost impossible! If you’re like me, you had to go with the light colored grout because it was pretty. Well, that error is easy to fix.
Get yourself a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner with bleach in gel form. The ‘gel’ is the kicker here. Press a layer of gel over the grout lines. (I suggest working in manageable sections, not the entire floor or counter at once). Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Gently scrub the grout with a stiff plastic bristle brush. Wipe the floor or counter with a damp cloth. Once you have finished your floor, mop it as you normally would. As for your counter top, disinfect it as you normally would.
I hope all these kitchen hacks make it onto your cleaning list and I hope they help you get the clean kitchen you’re looking for. Good luck!
Amanda Pokorny is a writer for cleanhousemaster.com. The master of the clean house is a group of friends who are passionate about having a beautiful house and sharing fun stories about house cleaning.