Clever Kitchen Cleaning Hacks for Cheapskates and Clean Freaks
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Have you noticed how well TV commercials, magazine advertisements, and internet ads hit your pain points? They never fail to remind me that laundry is a tedious chore, making dinner at home is stressful, and gosh darn it, I haven’t been on a vacation in a long time! Marketers are at their best when they remind us that kitchen cleaning is one of the worst tasks of all.
Of course, taking the pain and stress out of cleaning the kitchen is always a simple matter of finding just the right cleaning product, appliance, or accessory, right? At least that’s what they want us to think! I’ve been convinced to drink the kool-aid and buy several products in the past, and you probably have as well.
I was being strung along and duped time and time again, always thinking that the next product would finally make kitchen cleaning easier. One day I realized something: my grandma didn’t have access to any of this stuff when she was a newlywed homemaker in 1942, and her kitchen was always spotless.
Maybe products had nothing to do with the key to taking the stress out of kitchen cleaning after all!
Kitchen Cleaning Hacks to Simplify and Save
So I started researching simpler methods of kitchen cleaning by asking family members, reading articles, researching on Pinterest, and experimenting myself. In this post, I’m going to share with you the most clever kitchen cleaning hacks that I’ve discovered – I hope they will take the stress and monotony out of cleaning your kitchen and also help you ditch expensive products and save money.
A Simple All-Purpose Cleaner
Over the years we have tried all sorts of cleaners in the kitchen: Lysol, generic disinfectant wipes, orange-based cleaners, and the list goes on and on. I often felt like no matter what I did I could not rinse our counter top surfaces well enough to ensure that we weren’t ingesting chemicals. And I wasn’t a big fan of spending over $3 on most bottles.
Several of our family members shared their natural, inexpensive solution: an all-purpose cleaner made with water, dish soap, and vinegar. When combined these three ingredients are an excellent degreaser, adequate disinfectant, and very safe.
To create your own all-purpose cleaner, follow these steps:
- purchase an empty spray bottle from your local Dollar Tree
- Simply add two parts vinegar, one part liquid dish soap, and two parts water to your spray bottle, replace the nozzle, and shake vigorously
- (optional) Some recipes recommend heating the vinegar first and omitting water, but we have found that the addition of water makes rinsing easier
This cleaner is not only useful for kitchen cleaning; it can be used to remove grime from shower days, clean dirty windows, and more.
Clean Your Stained White Ceramic Sink
When we moved into our home in 2013, our white ceramic kitchen sink had seen better days. Every time I cleaned the kitchen was a sobering reminder that our nearly-new kitchen hadn’t been maintained properly.
One day, we invited neighbors over for dinner, and they shared their simple trick for making their white ceramic sink look new using only water and bleach:
- Run your hot water until it reaches its hottest temperature
- Use your sink stopper to plug the drain
- Add 1/2 cup bleach to the sink (Note: it is always a good idea to wear protective gloves/eye wear and open a window to provide adequate ventilation when using bleach)
- Allow the water level to rise high enough to cover any spots that are discolored
- Let the water sit for 1-2 hours, then scrub all sink surfaces
- Rinse thoroughly with cool water
I use this simple trick once per month while tackling other kitchen cleaning chores to keep our sink looking new.
Freshen Up Your Smelly Garbage Disposal
I love having a garbage disposal, but from time to time the smells radiating from our disposal become pretty unpleasant. Most of the time I can take care of the smell by plugging the disposal with the stopper, filling up the sink with warm soapy water, and running the disposal after unplugging the sink.
When this simple fix fails, we grind orange or lemon peels with cool water in the disposal. Even after forgetting to run the disposal for a day or two, orange and lemon peels neutralize odors quickly and easily.
Use Dryer Sheets to Remove Baked on Foods
My favorite meal growing up was my grandma’s meat loaf and scalloped potatoes. Even as an adult, I look forward to the days when my Mom breaks out the recipe. The only downside to this meal is the baked on residue that remains long after dinner is finished.
If you’ve spent hours and hours scrubbing similar baked on foods and suffered from dishpan hands, there’s a simple solution: fabric softener sheets, i.e. dryer sheets.
Simply fill the baked on pan or dish with a few drops of dish soap, the hottest water from your sink, and a dryer sheet; let it sit for a few hours or overnight and gently scrub the pan or dish in the morning, if necessary.
Make Your Stove Burners Shine Like New Without Scrubbing or Using Harsh Chemicals
Dealing with gross, greasy stove burners/grates is a nightmare. Over the years I’d tried just about everything until I stumbled upon a great solution from Vivienne at The V Spot back in 2012.
Simply place your burner grate in a large enough, durable plastic bag and add 1/4 cup ammonia. Seal the bag as tightly as possible so the fumes can work their magic and place the bag outside or in the garage (ammonia smells BAD!).
The next day, the fumes will have loosed or removed entirely all of the built up layers of food debris and grease. Wipe the grates clean with a damp sponge and you’re done!
Clean Your Coffee Pot With Salt
I worked at a movie theater during high school, and the coffee pot in the concession stand really took a beating. Cleaning the carafes was one of the jobs I hated most because the stains were very tough to get out – that is, until one of my supervisors taught me a simple trick.
You can clean your carafe simply and quickly by allowing it to return to room temperature, adding a mixture of salt (Morton salt works best) and ice cubs, and shaking vigorously. Just be sure to rinse and wash your carafe with warm soapy water to avoid running salt through your coffee maker.
WARNING: DO NOT DO THIS WITH A HOT OR WARM CARAFE, AS IT WILL SHATTER!
Reuse Old T-Shirts as Cleaning Rags
All T-shirts have a wearable shelf-life, but you can reuse them as kitchen cleaning rags when that time comes.
Effortlessly Clean Your Filthy Microwave
There are few chores I used to dislike as much as cleaning dirty, cooked-on microwave splatters.
Now, cleaning even the worst splatters is an easy two step process. First, microwave 1/2 cup of common vinegar in a microwave safe mug on high for 1-2 minutes and let sit for another minute. Second, wipe all of the interior surfaces of your microwave with a rag or paper towels. Repeat the process for large splatters, if necessary.
Use Dollar Store Bins to Organize Everything
If you’re looking to reduce the time and frustration of kitchen cleaning, getting organized is a simple and effective step that will pay off now and in the future. The quickest and cheapest way to improve your kitchen organization depends upon your ability to master the art of dollar store hacks.
We use dollar store storage bins in our pantry to catch loose items and organize pantry stables in similar groups. One bin holds coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and K cups, while it’s neighbor organizes snack foods like nuts, popcorn, granola bars, and small chocolates. Two other bins hold Italian food staples (like pasta and sauces) and miscellaneous baking supplies (food coloring, confectioners sugar, vanilla, chocolate chips, etc.).
In the past, our horrible organization made kitchen cleaning a time-consuming nightmare because we had to remove each item individually and replace it after cleaning out the pantry. Making use of inexpensive organization tools has cut that time in half!
Use Your Dishwasher Wisely
If you find kitchen cleaning to be boring, you haven’t likely read your dishwasher’s owner’s manual. It’s not likely to be riveting reading material, but loading your dishwasher according to manufacturers’ specifications is the number one way to ensure that it cleans your dishes effectively each and every time.
Here are a few additional universal tips:
1. Ensure that dishes are arranged so dirty sides face the spray pattern of your dishwasher
2. Do not over-fill detergent
3. Make sure flatware does not “nest” together
4. Never stack items
Following these tips and loading your dishwasher based upon the manufacturers’ recommendations will ensure your dishwasher is efficient.
Use Reusable Microfiber Cloths
For some jobs, however, old t-shirts just won’t cut it. For the past few months we have been using washable microfiber cloths to lessen our paper towel costs. If you use an antibacterial microfiber you’ll greatly reduce the risks of cross-contamination that can occur when you use the same sponge to wash dishes, clean the sink, and wipe down counters and tables.
I was concerned that they would not hold up well over time, but washing the cloths hasn’t damaged them a bit. I also love that they hold up to 8 times their weight in water, which a paper towel definitely cannot do!
Baking Soda in the Refrigerator
My wife is extremely sensitive to smells, so when she opens our usually-clean refrigerator I often brace myself. Keeping an open box of baking soda in your refrigerator and freezer is a simple fix for even moderate odors.
Some people recommend replacing it every three months, as it loses its odor-absorbing ability after that time. I find that you may get away with more time if you do not over fill your refrigerator and properly sealed stored foods in air tight containers. Either way, it is a good idea to write the “opened” date on each new box of baking soda when swapping them out.
Make Your Stainless Steal Appliances Shimmer
Though I don’t have stainless steal appliances in my kitchen, I have to admit that they look incredible when they’re well-maintained. A friend recently shared the simple kitchen cleaning hack that she uses to keep her stainless steel refrigerator looking new.
Begin by cleaning the surface of your stainless steel appliance using gentle soap and water. Rinse and allow the surface to dry completely. Then apply a few small drops of olive oil to a soft cloth and work it into the surface by going with the grain. Finally, be sure to remove any excess oil with an additional clean cloth or paper towel. That’s it! Your appliance should look nearly new again.
Satisfy Your Inner Clean Freak
Kitchen cleaning will probably never be fun (unless you’re Danny Tanner), but it doesn’t have to be a miserable or expensive experience either! The tips above can take the time, stress, and expense out of maintaining a clean kitchen. Pick out a few to try and get started this week!