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a clean kitchen in 7 easy steps

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.    A Clean Kitchen Starts With Surface Decluttering

Put away anything that's out of place before you clean your kitchen, 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.    Pretreating Spot Patrol

Step 2 is spot control. Don't waste your precious time scrubbing dried-on foods or baked-on spills on the countertops and the stove.

Instead, give these blights a generous spritz of all-purpose cleaner. Allow the cleaner to pretreat the grime while you move on to stove cleaning duty.

3.     Soak it up

Fill the sink with hot, water, add a few drops of dish soap, 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

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, turn it on and let the appliance clean itself.  Don't use an oven cleaner in a self-cleaning oven; 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 dish soap using your scrubber sponge; rinse clean.

5.    Surface Duty

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

First, wipe up the spots you sprayed in step 2; then use the 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 kitchen countertops and the refrigerator handle. Allow the cleaner to sit on for at least 10 minutes.

6.    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, turn on the garbage disposal and send the soapy water down when you're done.

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

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. Better still: Use a no-rinse floor-cleaning product and mop your way out the kitchen door. 

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› Tips for a Clean Kitchen