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7 Steps to a clean kitchen

Kitchens are a potluck of dirt, grease, and germs.

For a clean kitchen, you'll need an all-purpose cleaner; a disinfectant cleaner; a glass cleaner (or a vinegar and water mix); dishwashing detergent; a clean, dry cloth; a scrubber sponge; and a scourer (the ball-shaped, woven-plastic kind).

This 7-step method to a clean kitchen begins with decluttering and ends with mopping your way out the door.

Along the way, you'll be treating the prime surfaces that need weekly cleaning attention, letting the specialized cleaners do much of the dirty work for you. Then your job is to go back and wipe all the surfaces clean. Let's do it!

1.  For a Clean Kitchen Start by Decluttering Surfaces

Step one. Declutter.

Put away anything that's out of place, such as dishes languishing in the sink or the kids' homework on the kitchen table, and remove everything from the counters.

Send oven mitts and dishtowels into the wash.

Toss anything from the fridge that's past its prime (see food safety tips for guidelines) or that the family won't eat, no matter how hungry.

2.  Spot Patrol

Step two. Spot patrol. Don't waste your precious time scrubbing dried-on foods or baked-on spills on the countertops and stove; instead, give them a generous spritz of all-purpose cleaner. 

Allow the cleaner to penetrate the grime while you move on. 

3.   Soak It Up

Step three. Soak it up.

Fill the sink with hot, soapy water and place your stove-burner rings and vent-hood filter inside to soak for at least 15 to 20 minutes to soften the baked-on food spills and splatters. (Your dishwasher could scratch the decorative surface of some burner rings.)

4.  Oven Duty

Step four. Oven duty. Open the (cool) oven and remove the oven racks. Scrape off any burned-on stains with a dull knife held at a 30-degree angle.

Use an oven cleaner for manually cleaned ovens; if you have a self-cleaning oven, simply turn it on and let the appliance clean itself. Don't use an oven cleaner in a self-cleaning over; however, it may damage the surface.

To eliminate the need for frequent deep cleanings in the future, sponge away oven spills before they dry or are burned to crisp. 

For baked-on messes in the microwave, apply hand dishwashing detergent using your scrubber sponge; rinse clean.

5.  Surface Duty

Step five. Surface duty.

After you've obliterated the baked-on messes in the oven, work your way around the kitchen cleaning the other surfaces. 

First, wipe up the spots you sprayed in step two; then use an all-purpose cleaner for a general wipe-down of countertops, the oven exterior, cabinets, the dishwasher, and refrigerator. 

To prevent streak marks when cleaning large vertical areas such as appliance surfaces, start at the bottom and work up, overlapping areas with a circular motion.

Rinse the sponge and reapply cleaner frequently. 

By making one thorough cleaning trip around the room, you're sure to hit all the surface hot spots. Finish by spraying a disinfectant cleaner on the countertops and refrigerator handle, allowing the cleaner to sit for at least 10 minutes.

6.  Finishing Touches

Step six. Finishing touches.

Retrieve the vent-hood filter and stove-burner rings that are soaking in the sink; sponge them clean of any lingering grime; rinse, dry, and put them back in place.

Clean the sink and faucet with a sponge and dishwashing liquid or all-purpose cleaner to remove any residue. 

To make the faucet sparkle, spritz it with a glass cleaner and polish dry. Wipe the countertops and refrigerator door handle clean of disinfectant. 

7.   Floor Time

Step seven. Floor time. Sweep first to get rid of corner crumbs and then mop with a floor-care product designed for your floor type.

Keep in mind that flooring can become cloudy with built-up residue from the cleaning solution, so be sure to rinse thoroughly after each cleaning.

Better still: Use a no-rinse floor-cleaning product and mop your way out the kitchen door.  If you spot-clean spills immediately after they happen, your floors will stay cleaner between moppings.

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› A Clean Kitchen