I can hear you now…
“There’s a WRONG way to clean my kitchen? Clean is clean, right?”
Well, not exactly. If you’re looking for a healthier, better-smelling kitchen with longer lasting appliances, you may be missing some of the essential pieces to the “kitchen-cleaning” puzzle. Luckily, you don’t have to work harder to have a truly clean kitchen, you just have to clean smarter. Here’s some tried and true hints from Ernest Homes!
Holy Handles and Doorknobs, Batman!
Some of the dirtiest places in the average home are the handles and knobs in your kitchen. A variety of germy bacteria, including e-coli and listeria, are commonly found on door and cabinet knobs, microwave buttons and the handles of your dishwasher, refrigerator and oven. Take a simple swipe with an anti-bacterial wipe last thing when cleaning up after dinner, and you’ll cut down drastically on the concentration of these invisible offenders.
Save the Life of Your Knives
Your sharp knives shouldn’t go into the dishwasher, especially if they have wooden handles. Most dishwashers are too powerful for these surprisingly delicate tools; each wash can take months off the life your best knives. Give them a quick hand wash as soon as you’re done using them for best results.
And Speaking of Dishwashers…
The inside of the dishwasher door is one of the most neglected areas of the average kitchen. In a 2011 study of 189 residential dishwashers, over 60% harbored fungi on the rubber seal around the dishwasher. And even worse, more than half tested positive for black yeast. Every so often, use your favorite spray cleaner and a toothbrush to get at the grooves in the rubber. If you want to give your entire dishwasher a good cleaning, mix a spray bottle full of 50/50 white vinegar and water, coat the inside and the racks of the machine, and run on the hottest cycle with nothing inside.
It may only hold water, but bacteria and algae can grow in your pitcher quite easily, especially if you don’t keep it in the fridge. If your pitcher is dishwasher safe, run it through the machine each week. If not, take the pitcher apart completely, washing each piece with warm, soapy water. Let the pitcher air dry completely.
Stove Burner Shortcut
The stovetop is one of the grossest projects in your kitchen. If your range has removable burners, the easiest way to clean them is to place each burner in a zip-top plastic bag with a quarter cup of ammonia. Place the bag on a baking sheet and let sit overnight. The next morning, simply wipe the burner clean with a sponge.
And Don’t Forget to Clean Your Oven!
The self-cleaning function of most ovens runs on exceptionally high heat (1,000 degrees or higher) and the heating elements are placed near the back of the appliance. This leads to a lack of ventilation, which can blow fuses or burn out control panels. To preserve the life of your oven, pull out the racks and place them inside a large garbage bag. Spray with a strong all-purpose cleaner and tie the bag shut. Spray the inside of the oven with the same cleaner and let it all sit overnight. Wipe away all the grime and black spots the next morning, then rinse the racks with warm, soapy water and wipe dry. To prevent big messes, consider covering the bottom of the oven with a disposable oven-safe liners to catch spills. One caution on oven liners – before you use an oven liner, always check the oven manual to make sure your oven doesn’t have a hidden bottom heating element. It is very difficult and potentially expensive to remove a liner that has stuck to your oven base. This happens when the oven’s heating element is underneath the oven floor. These ovens heat up from below and this high, direct heat is too much for oven mats to stand, causing them to melt.
Love Your Sink…
The garbage disposal and the sink can be a safe haven for an astounding amount of bacteria. Cut down on foul odors and dangerous e-coli and some of its evil friends by sharing citrus rinds and ice cubes with your disposal. The fresh scent and acidic juice of the rind freshens and helps disinfect your disposal. You can also use white vinegar and ice cubes if you don’t have citrus rinds handy. After dinner each night, throw a handful of ice cubes along with vinegar or citrus peel into the disposal and run until the ice is gone. Citrus peels keep nicely for several days when stored in a zip-top bag in the fridge, so don’t toss them in the trash after every piece of fruit. After grinding, run cool water for about 30 seconds, then warm the water, add a splash of mild soap and swish a clean sponge or cloth around your sink to take care of any remaining bacteria.
Take Care of Your Coffee!
When was the last time you cleaned your coffeemaker? Not only does this popular appliance get gummy and grimy, if not cleaned about once a month, it can affect the taste of your favorite morning brew. Run a two parts water to one part white vinegar solution through the brew cycle without a filter. Follow with a few rounds of just water until the vinegar odor disappears. If you use a coffee grinder, make sure to wipe thoroughly with a wet cloth and soapy water. After drying, smash some uncooked rice in the grinder to eliminate lingering odors.