I got the call today that I’m quite use to. My husband is in the military and it’s time to move…again. We’ve moved about 5 times in the last 18 years so it was no surprise. Having moved so many times, you get use to the drill: clean house, list house on the market, hope it sells fast. One thing I have learned over the years with selling and buying houses is that clean kitchens really help sell a house.
If there is one problem in any kitchen it is dirt. It’s the hidden offender. It hides in grease, on appliances and even window blinds. It’s the annoying relative that just won’t leave.
With so many moves under my belt, I have a few ‘hacks’ that are tried and true and help my kitchen sparkle. I never know when I’m going to 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 hard I plan for them not to. Why? I have kids. Enough said.
I’ve tried putting lemons in microwave and I’ve tried using vinegar. The problem I ran into was that I didn’t have lemons or vinegar on hand. So, I now have a method that is a sure winner: paper towels. I always have them on hand and who would have known they could be used for such a dirty job.
Take four or five paper towels. Soak them in water. Slightly ring them out (you still want them to have plenty of moisture in them but you don’t necessarily want them soaking wet). Put them onto your microwave tray. Heat them on high for 4 or 5 minutes. When the buzzer goes off, wait a minute or so before you open the door. The wet paper towels will release steam that will make wiping the gunk off much easier. Plus, you probably already have a roll in your house.
Kitchen hack #2: The stove top
I know many of you have a preference for your cook top. You either like gas or electric and you will never switch. I’m with you.
I prefer to cook on a gas stove. But, the one thing I dislike 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 instances, I have found a good way to get them clean.
Ammonia is the trick. I place each burner in a plastic bag with a tight sealing top (think zipper or zip lock). I then place about a table spoon or two of ammonia in the bag and seal it up. The goal is not to soak the entire burner. The goal is to use the ammonia (fumes) to loosen the dried on food spills. Let sit for about 12 hours or even overnight.
*Important note*: When using ammonia, you need A LOT of ventilation. Open your widows or if weather permits, place your burners in the bags and add the ammonia outside. Also, if weather permits, place the plastic bags on a tray or in a dish and place them outside overnight.
In the morning, with proper ventilation, remove the burner from the bag. Seal up the bag and place it in the garbage. Thoroughly clean the burner. 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 was guilty of tossing a frozen pizza into the oven directly on the rack. I was also guilty of not cleaning up the cheese that fell onto the rack below and ultimately on the oven bottom. Over the years, I’ve learned I do not 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 racks with foil and wrap it around the sides and front and back. It makes cleaning a cinch. Once the food particles add up, I can quickly toss the foil and add a new sheet.
Another thought is to place a sheet of foil on the bottom of the oven. In the event you don’t want to line each rack, foil on the bottom can catch food particles as well. I suggest checking your manufactures instructions before using foil on the bottom of your oven.
Kitchen hack #4: Oil splatters
Cooking on the stove top is a fast 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, oil can splash out of the pan. It is easy to miss because it is hard to see.
If you don’t clean your stove top after each and every use, it’s easy for the oil splatters to mix with regular household dust. Dust is something that is easy to miss in the kitchen. It’s something so small we often don’t see unless we’re looking for it.
If you have a microwave above your stove top or if you have tile as your backsplash behind your stove top or if you have a stove top and you cook, you have a nice layer of dust + grease! Don’t be ashamed. It’s easy to miss.
You can use any number of cleaners or even water and soap to clean the oil but oil and water don’t mix. Try using mineral oil. Place a few drops on a paper towel and wipe down the surface. You will be amazed at how clean the surface becomes. After, wipe down the same area with a clean paper towel. Yes, there will be a little bit of left over oil but that help in your cleaning next time.
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 my kitchen floors weekly. (With kids, you have to). But I sweep around my refrigerator and oven, never under. An easy tip to take 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 dampen it with water. Put the yard stick in the sock, secure it with a rubber band and there you have it…an easy way to clean under your appliances.
Bonus kitchen hacks
Friends, I have two more hacks that have come in handy over the years and I hate not sharing them with you. They involve a sock and toilet bowl cleaner.
I have 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 it (probably because I choose not to look)! By far the easiest way to clean the blinds: Dig into the lost sock drawer, pull one out, dampen it, place your hand inside and get to work. The sock will allow you to easily get a grip of each individual blind and on both sides. Don’t forget to wash out the sock as needed.
Last, if you have tile on your kitchen floor or even your counter, you know how hard it is to keep the grout clean. It’s next to impossible! If you’re like me, you had to go with the light color grout because it was pretty. Well, that mistake is easy to fix.
Get yourself a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner with bleach in gel form. The ‘gel’ is the kicker here. Squeeze a layer of gel on the grout lines. (I suggest working in manageable sections, not the entire floor or counter at one time). Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Gently scrub the grout with a stiff plastic bristle brush. Wipe up the floor or counter with a damp cloth. Once you have finished your floor, mop it up as you normally do. As for your counter top, disinfect it as you normally would.
I hope all of these kitchen hacks will make it on 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. Clean house master is a group of friends passionate about having a beautiful tidy living home and sharing fun stories about house cleaning.