Cook'n is the best selling recipe organizer

Volume III
July 20, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

6 SMART Kitchen-Oriented Cleaning Tips

By Alice Osborne

People love the clutter-removal DVD that I did for our Cook'n folks, and clutter removal is definitely the first step to creating a user-friendly kitchen. But people also ask if I have any cleaning tips. A clean kitchen is so much nicer to work in and I absolutely do have oodles of tips, but we'll start with 6. Take a look:

1. Backsplashes: They get grimy and greasy and soap or detergent alone isn't strong enough for kitchen grease/dirt buildup. You need ammonia solution or something like 409. Sometimes I'll add ammonia to Mr. Clean or 409 just to beef it up. Just as it helps to soak pots and pans that have baked-on grease, it helps if you spray your backsplash heavily with your cleaner. Let it sit so it has a chance to break down the scum and grime. Spray once, wait a few minutes, then spray it all over again.

Keep the area wet with your cleaner for at least 15 minutes or more before you start scrubbing. If the grease is really thick, first remove most of it with a scraper (a metal plastering spatula works well); a plastic spatula is safe on all surfaces. Next use a stiff bristled brush because the bristles will cut through the grease much quicker than a sponge or white pad. The bristles will also get into tile grout. Continue spraying your cleaner as you work.

2. Salt and Pepper Shakers: Restaurant staff spend a lot of time cleaning their salt and pepper shakers, and for good reason. They get grimy so easily. Mr. Clean or 409 and a white pad will take off the toughest buildup. Then clean the holes with a toothpick. (Be sure to remove the salt and pepper before spraying your cleaner, though.)

3. Can Openers: The smart thing to do is clean them as you go. Hand can openers can go in the dishwasher. Scrub the cutting piece and grooved part with a toothbrush first. If it's electric, slide the cutting mechanism away from the body of the opening, and put only that part in the dishwasher. The body can easily be cleaned with your cleaner using a cleaning cloth and maybe an old toothbrush.

4. Dishwashers: If it's stinky, the problem may well be an improperly installed garbage disposal. The disposal water line may allow food from the disposal to be thrown into the dishwasher line. It's a common problem. So check that angle out.

There are three other stink-causing problems. 1) The rubber door gasket that forms the lower seal has started to disintegrate and is creating its own odor, or 2) the heating element is burned out and gives off an odor when it cycles on and off, or 3) gunk has accumulated in the area between the lower front of the dishwasher and the door. If the last possibility is your reality, clean that area carefully with a toothbrush and your cleaner. Afterwards, run the dishwasher with a quarter cup of white vinegar to help remove any lingering odors. Start the dishwasher empty of dishes or soap. When if fills with water the first time, open the door, add the vinegar, and let the cycle complete itself.

5. Stove Burner Drip Trays: Someone asked me if she should throw hers away because they were taking too much time to clean and they actually weren't even coming clean anymore. This was driving her crazy.

I told her to throw them away and get new ones. They're not expensive; and that's the M.O.: When they get to the point they're uncleanable, it's time to start over.

6. Microwave Oven Interior: This can be the pits to clean, unless you try this trick: Fill a pyrex measuring cup (or even a cocoa or coffee mug) with water and place it in the microwave. Nuke for 3 minutes. Let it sit in the microwave for 5-10 minutes. Condensation will form on the insides of the oven which will do an excellent job of softening the splatters and greasy buildup. Then remove the water, tray, and tray holder and wipe the interior down. Start with the oven ceiling, wipe the back wall next, then the sides, then the inside of the door. You'll be amazed at how quickly you can get this appliance sparkling this way.

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