Our favorite kitchen cleaning hacks and products
Posted by AMH Team
8m read time
Feb 17, 2022
For some people, it’s a scene worse than any horror movie: cleaning the kitchen. But it’s something that must be done. After all, you’re using your kitchen every day and, as messes accumulate, it can lead to unsightly stains and smears, unpleasant smells, and even unwelcome visitors to your home, like bugs and rodents. Thankfully, cleaning the kitchen doesn’t have to fill you with dread. Below are our favorite kitchen cleaning hacks to make your next cleanup a breeze.
Establish a daily routine
Maintaining a daily routine makes things more efficient. The goal is to have your kitchen regularly in a state of cleanliness, which improves both its appearance and your mental energy.
One popular method is SOSD, which stands for surfaces, oven, sweep, dishes—four easy-to-remember steps for breaking down your kitchen cleaning before bed every day. After you’ve done it a few times, it’ll become so second nature, you can operate on autopilot.
Beyond the SOSD method, Shifrah Combiths of The Kitchn recommends shutting down the kitchen, which “entails a level of cleaning that’s somewhere between post-meal clean-up and a thorough kitchen deep-clean.” Check out the entire procedure here.
Set timers and gamify
Scrubbing counters and stovetops feels less like a chore if you gamify it. If you hate cleaning, a timer can add some extra motivation into your work. Set one for 30 minutes and attempt to get everything done within that window. Empty the dishwasher, clean out old items from the fridge, and work on as many surfaces as possible. If you reach your goal, treat yourself to something nice from the pantry!
Pay attention to your sponges
The best way to prevent cross-contamination when household cleaning is to use a separate sponge for each task. To keep track of what’s what, cut a small corner off the sponge you use for dirty work, like wiping down walls or grimy surfaces, to differentiate it from the one you use to wash dishes.
While we’re on the topic of sponges, you can extend their lifespan by cleaning them once a week. Mix one gallon of water with ¾ cup bleach. Soak the sponge for five minutes, rinse, and voila! Your sponge will get a second wind. This method kills 99.9% of bacteria strains from sponges, but don’t go overboard with it. You should still throw out and replace your sponges every two to three weeks, depending on how often you use them.
Grab a laundry basket or storage bin
No, we’re not recommending washing clothes in the sink. Rather, an inexpensive laundry basket or storage bin saves time when picking up clutter. Grab everything that’s not where it should be—a rogue salt shaker or can of beans, for example—and put them in the laundry basket while you’re tidying up around the kitchen. You can even go through the rest of the house and add it to the basket, then put everything back where it belongs. It’ll save you several trips around the house, and while people tout the KonMari method for decluttering the house, which can certainly work, this route makes it much easier to get started.
Mesh bags are your friend
When running the dishwasher, you’ll often have smaller items, like storage container lids, loose spatulas, drink tops, or small measuring cups. To avoid those items slipping through the cracks or getting tossed around, put everything into a mesh laundry bag and then place them in the dishwasher. The bag keeps the items secure while still letting soap and water reach them. A mesh grocery bag, which you’ll get whenever you buy certain fruit, vegetables, or potatoes, is also a handy kitchen tool—simply put an old sponge inside it, and use a zip tie on the ends to create a homemade pot scrubber.
Clean your garbage disposal
Let’s face it: a lot of food goes into our garbage disposal. While a few crumbs or a stray vegetable here or there is fine, they add up quickly. When that happens, your kitchen develops an unpleasant odor and the disposal won’t be as effective. The solution? Vinegar and lemon. Though you can pour both down the sink, a more fun way to do it is to freeze blocks of vinegar with chunks of lemon. Once they’ve turned into ice cubes, plop one or two down the drain and breathe in—that’s the smell of a garbage disposal with a second life.
Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are a useful combo
You may have tried baking soda and hydrogen peroxide in your kitchen sink or bathroom tub to make them shiny and sparkling, but did you know they work the same wonders on baking sheets? Sprinkle baking soda on the sheets you’d like to clean, then pump a few sprays of hydrogen peroxide, and top it all off with another layer of baking soda. A few hours later, wipe off the baking sheets and admire how brand new they look.
Oven cleaning tricks
The shine of oven racks may dull over time, especially as food falls off pans and onto the racks. Restore that gleam with something you likely already have at home: powder washing detergent. Fill up a large plastic storage bin (or a bathtub) with powder washing detergent and soak your racks inside. A few hours later, remove and rinse with clean water.
Want to tackle the rest of the oven? Fill a spray bottle with 1/3 cup white vinegar, ½ cup baking soda, and 1/3 cup water. Wait until the oven is cool, remove the racks, and coat the inside of the oven—everything except the heating elements—with the solution. Close the door and give a final clean 12 hours later using soapy water. Combine these two tricks and you’ll be serving up your favorite meals in all-new style.
Bleach your garbage cans
Unless you’ve never thrown anything out, your garbage likely has some strange smells emanating from it. To freshen things up, fill up your garbage can with hot water and add ½ cup of bleach. Let this solution sit overnight. In the morning, use a brush to get rid of any pesky food still stuck to the sides. Rinse everything out and let dry. In between cleans, place a cotton ball under the garbage bag liner, which keeps odors to a minimum.
Use lemon juice to polish cabinets and floors
When your wood or luxury vinyl plank has lost a bit of its luster, this homemade polish helps bring it back. Combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 2-3 drops each of lemon oil and pomace or jojoba oil. If you prefer an unscented polish, mixing ¼ cup of oil with a few drops of vinegar will also provide a nice result.
Mix dish soap and white vinegar to clean stainless steel appliances
Chances are you have multiple stainless steel appliances in your kitchen—fridge, dishwasher, oven, toaster, microwave, and even cookware may fall under that category. Luckily, a combination of dish soap and white vinegar works for all of them. Mix two parts white vinegar with one part water, then squirt a few drops of liquid soap. Wet a microfiber cloth with the solution and use it on any stainless steel surface for a nice sparkle.
Messy dishwasher? Try Tang
If you’re running dishes and glasses through the dishwasher and they don’t appear to be getting clean, the machine may have a buildup of hard-water deposits. To solve this issue, grab a bottle of Tang. Well, maybe grab two bottles of Tang if you want to enjoy one on your own. It’s a terrific, inexpensive way to clean your dishwasher. Tang contains citric acid, which is helpful for cleaning and disinfecting. Empty your dishwasher, turn your kitchen sink to hot water, start the dishwasher, and shut the faucet off. After a few minutes, stop your dishwasher and pour Tang into the detergent dispenser and across the bottom rack. Run a full cycle and enjoy a more efficient dishwasher—and a glass of Tang. You’ve earned it!
Which kitchen products are most helpful for cleaning?
Knowing these kitchen hacks will save you time, energy, and frustration. However, for both regular and deeper cleans, it’s good to have a few kitchen cleaning essentials within arm’s reach. Below are some of our favorite dual-purpose items we’d always recommend keeping on-hand. The good news: you likely have several of these in your pantry already!
An essential for all kinds of pastries and desserts, baking soda is also a must-have cleaning tool. Use it to remove stains from cups or mugs—sprinkle some into the offending dish, add a bit of water, and scrub. Baking soda also works wonders in the sink. With this DIY de-clogger, run hot water down the drain, pour a cup of baking soda in afterwards, and top it off with a cup of lemon juice. Your sink will smell like new! Of course, baking soda is versatile enough to use around the house, including in your washing machine.
We’ve covered some of the uses above, but lemons really do bring out extra freshness in many kitchen essentials. Use them in the sink to help de-clog drains or mix water with lemon juice (and the lemon halves) in the microwave for a few minutes. After the microwave goes off, keep the door closed and the bowl inside for another five minutes. The combo of the lemon and water will create a steam that loosens up all the built-up food inside the microwave. Another lemon trick: put cloves inside of half a lemon and stick it in your refrigerator overnight to add a fresh smell to the fridge.
You might don some stylish rubber gloves when preparing to give something in the kitchen a deep scrub. However, these gloves serve multiple purposes. They help open stubborn sauce or pickle jars and, if you have loose dirt or pet hairs in certain crevices of the kitchen, the gloves are exceptionally effective at picking up that debris.
Wax or parchment paper
Line your cabinets, cupboards, and drawers with wax or parchment paper. Doing so collects dust and dirt that builds up and keeps the surfaces clean.
While aluminum foil is widely used to line baking sheets or cover large bowls of leftovers, it serves a variety of handy purposes. Line your lower oven rack with aluminum foil to catch oven messes and keep things clean. Or remove rust and stain from chrome faucets and appliances with water, soap, and aluminum foil. Aluminum foil also saves you time with cleaning grills or non-stick pots and pans by serving as a more powerful scrubbing tool.
Armed with these tips, your kitchen won’t know what hit it. Happy cleaning!
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