Your Ultimate Kitchen Cleaning Checklist (That Can Be Conquered in Less Than 2 Hours)
A gal’s got a life beyond scrubbing her kitchen, Cinderella-style for hours to get things in order. But when you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your crusty burner grates, you know you need a deep-clean—so we turned to Jennie Varney, brand manager for Molly Maid (which cleans 1.7 million kitchens a year, FYI), to compile the ultimate kitchen cleaning checklist, uncovering the quickest way to make the space glisten from top to bottom.
Get your rubber gloves, start a playlist and set your timer, because this whole cleanup sesh will take less than two hours. Promise.
1. Remove Foreign Objects
“Pick up everything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen and place it in a laundry basket,” says Varney. “When you’re finished in the kitchen, return those items to their rightful homes. Pull the trash can over and toss any garbage sitting on the counter or stools.”
2. Soak and Scrub Dishes, Drip Pans and Burner Grates
As you’re tidying up, start filling your sink with soapy water and soak any dishes you need to hand wash. You can also add your stove’s drip pans and burner grates to help get all the grime off. Anything else can go in the dishwasher.
After about ten minutes, clean the dishes and scrub the drip pans and burner grates with a scrubby sponge, then rinse and dry. Hand dry the drip pans and burner grates. Place the dishes on a towel or drying rack to dry.
3. Clean the Counters, Stove Top, Tabletop, Chairs and Cabinet Knobs
Wipe down your countertops, stove top, cabinet knobs and other surfaces. You can use a granite countertop cleaner if you have granite countertops, but it’s not absolutely necessary—warm water and soap are totally fine here.
“Don’t use harsh chemicals, acidic cleaners or abrasive scrubbing tools,” notes Varney. “Stick with warm water, mild dish soap and a soft microfiber cloth. Steer clear of vinegar, which can dull the granite and weaken the sealant—though there are plenty of other ways to clean with vinegar around the house.”
Varney tells us that any surfaces your food touches are the most important areas of your kitchen to clean: “Cross-contamination can happen by accident. Think rinsing raw chicken in the sink and not taking care to thoroughly clean that surface before you place fruit in the sink.”
4. Clean and Polish Appliance Surfaces
“Weekly cleaning and maintenance is a priority—just think of how often you touch these surfaces, especially fridge door handles,” says Varney. “Cleaning can prevent contamination, especially during flu season.”
Wipe down the rest of your oven and vents, as well as the exterior of your dishwasher, refrigerator and microwave. Varney suggests never using anything acidic (which can strip the shine and potentially lead to damage) and sticking to pH-neutral cleaning products, like soap and water.
From there, polish stainless steel appliances, going along the grain with a microfiber cloth. Varney says you can often reuse the polish that is already on the surface.
5. Clean your Coffeemaker
“If your coffeepot needs some tender loving care, shake some powdered dishwasher detergent into the bottom of a cool coffeepot and fill with hot water,” says Varney. “Let it sit for an hour and it should be good as new—no scrubbing, no boiling, no replacement needed.”
Note to Keurig lovers: You can fill the reservoir with warm water or a water/vinegar solution and run it through a few cycles to clean everything out.
6. Clean the Inside of the Oven
Wearing rubber gloves and goggles to protect your eyes, use a commercial cleaner to clean the inside of your oven. Follow the instructions on the cleaner of your choice (this is potent stuff).
Pro tip: “Cover the oven’s heating elements, wiring and thermostat with aluminum foil to prevent contact with the cleaner,” says Varney.
7. Clean the Inside of the Microwave
Molly Maid has the best tip for a clean microwave, and it will change your life. “To have your microwave look and smell great again, fill a small glass bowl with water and place it on the microwave’s turntable. Squeeze fresh lemon into the bowl for a clean summer scent,” Varney says. “Close the door and let the microwave run on high for 2 minutes. When the cycle ends, remove the bowl and the turntable, being careful not to burn yourself, as the bowl’s contents will be very hot.” Dampen a clean microfiber cloth with water and distilled white vinegar and wipe away any residue inside.
8. Clean the Inside of Your Dishwasher
It seems strange to clean something that is cleaning your dishes, but hear us out.
“The dishwasher should be cleaned regularly to maintain its efficiency,” notes Varney. “Fill a coffee cup with white vinegar or baking soda (or one of each), place it in the top rack and run a normal cycle with no other dishes in the unit.”
9. Clean Out Your Refrigerator
Arguably the worst part of cleaning your kitchen, this is a necessary evil. (This jar of peppers does not bring me joy!)
Sort through and discard any expired or spoiled food. For a good clean, wipe all the drawers and shelves with a 50/50 vinegar and water mixture or a solution of ½ cup baking soda and a quart of water. If any removable fridge components are just plain nasty, wash them in lukewarm soapy water, and then rinse and dry them before putting them back in the fridge.
Don’t forget smaller areas too: “Wipe gasket grooves with an old toothbrush to remove stubborn particles,” says Varney, adding that you should vacuum the refrigerator coils as well.
10. Sweep and Clean the Floor
Sweep or vacuum your floors before you start mopping.
“A solution of ½ cup vinegar and one gallon warm water will work best on ceramic tile floors,” shares Varney. “The vinegar will cut through any odors and leave behind a fresh scent. Do not use lemon or vinegar on granite, marble or other porous stone surfaces. Those should be spot-cleaned with minimal water and specialty products formulated to protect their surfaces. For laminate floors, manufacturers do not recommend soap-based products because they dull the material.”
“For laminate floors, manufacturers do not recommend soap-based products because they dull the floors.”
11. Take out the Trash
You made it and your kitchen looks beautiful. Take out the garbage and recycling, and toss your dirty troubles away.