Published June 12, 2017
The kitchen is the heart and soul of the household. It is the room where Sunday roasts and Christmas lunches are made, where young children first discover they want to be a chef when they grow older, and where family and friends gather together to help each other cook and create.
The kitchen is also one of the rooms most susceptible to mess and clutter, and if not looked after carefully, can quickly become an overwhelming assortment of utensils and crumbs. In this article we explore ways to clean all aspects of the kitchen, and the benefits that come with a well organised and tidy space.
The Deep Clean
Wiping down counters once a day is a necessity, and a great habit to have, but it only really scratches the surface of a proper kitchen clean. There are so many other nooks and crannies in a kitchen that are so often overlooked, but once clean, really can make all the difference.
Make sure the following areas are covered when tackling a thorough kitchen clean-out;
The sink: Constant use causes grime to quickly collect around the sides of the sink. Grab a scour and thoroughly clean the sink with detergent at least once a week to ensure the dishes you wash are actually coming out clean.
The bins: Give the base and lid a thorough clean with warm water and detergent at least once a fortnight. Regardless of how often the rubbish is taken out, there is always residue which, if left uncleaned, can cause bad odours and attract unwanted pests.
The stove exhaust: A vinegar solution – one part vinegar, one part water – can help remove grease build up and restore the hood to its shiny former self.
The pantry: Remove all items from the pantry and wipe down the shelves with a little detergent or soap. Quite often condiments such as honey can leak and leave sticky residue. This often goes unnoticed by us, but not by the local cockroach family.
The cabinets: Make sure the top of the cabinets are dusted regularly – a build up of dust can pose a health risk if it becomes dislodged and finds its way into food.
The fridge: Remove all products from the fridge and wipe down all the shelves and storage compartments with soapy water. Also make sure you wipe down the doors and outside handles – hands that have been cooking can quickly cause a build up of grime and dirty fingerprints.
The oven: Create a paste with half a cup of bicarbonate soda and a few tablespoons of water, and apply it to the interior of the oven, avoiding any elements. Then spray this paste with a little vinegar – the two will react and foam up, dislodging any grease. Leave the mixture for a couple of hours and then wipe it away with a damp cloth.
Now that the deep clean is done and your kitchen is spotless, it’s time to turn your attention to the actual items in the kitchen. Decluttering will not only make it easier to find the items you are looking for, but also make the task of cleaning much less daunting and time consuming in the future.
Here are some tips on cleaning out the clutter;
Empty out your drawers and lay out all your utensils so you can clearly see what you have. Group all similar utensils together.
Got three bottle openers, six ladles and four wooden spoons? It’s time to really think about what purpose these duplicates serve. Chances are they have collected over the years as a result of presents, impulse purchases or friends forgetting items at your house, but think about how often you use each item and whether you only really stick to one favourite utensil of the lot.
Sure, it’s comforting to know that your fourth wooden spoon will come in handy when the first one is in the dishwasher, the second is lost and the third has been lent to a friend, but this is a very unlikely scenario. What’s more likely is your daily struggle to find just one wooden spoon amongst the debacle of other utensils strewn throughout the drawer. Set your favourite utensil aside and place the others in a bag for donation.
Similarly, pull all of the products out from the pantry and lay them out in categories. You may find that you have three half-finished tubs of peanut butter.
Go through and discard any products that are out of date, or that have been opened but not finished in a long time – just like with your wardrobe, a good rule of thumb is if you haven’t eaten it in the last 6 months, chances are you never will. Also have a look at the unopened products and ask yourself what you would eat them with, or how you would encorporate them into your cooking.
Impulse purchasing exotic spices when out shopping to experiment with in the kitchen may come with all good intentions, but if you still haven’t found the right recipe, it might be time to make a donation to the local street kitchen, or even to a friend who you know will use the ingredients.
After sorting, take care when replacing the items you do want to keep back in the pantry. Organise similar items together so that they’re easy to find. This also helps you know exactly what you have of each type of food, and whether you are running low on anything.
Also consider little shelves to prop-up items that are further towards to back of the pantry. If your tomato sauce is out of view behind the rest of your sauces, you are more likely to forget about it and purchase another one at an unnecessary expense. An organised pantry where everything is visible reduces waste and ensures everything that is purchased is used up.
Have a look at the items currently sitting atop the counters and surfaces, and try to remove any items that don’t directly belong in the kitchen.
When coming home for the day, take an extra two moments to put away your bag and keys properly – don’t leave them lying out on the kitchen table.
Also be mindful of the items around the sink – avoid a build up of smelly sponges by throwing out old ones and replacing them at least once a fortnight.
Got six different tea towels each with a slightly different flower pattern? Two at most belong in the kitchen, the rest are best stored away safely in the linen closet (or even better, sent to a donations box!) Also ensure all cutlery and crockery is put away properly when not in use, your apron is hanging out of the way in the pantry, and pots and pans are organised and out of sight.
It may seem like a lot to manage, but the benefits of having a kitchen that is clean, clutter free and organised far outweigh the effort required. For the most part, you may find that cooking is no longer a laborious task as you can find all your ingredients and utensils with ease. You will also have extra room to prepare food, and won’t waste time tidying up before you even start. You may be inspired by new recipes because you can now see every ingredient in your pantry and fridge.
But one of the most important reasons is that a clean kitchen is a safe kitchen.
There are no hidden knives amongst the sink full of plates, no greasy surfaces on which crockery can slip and break, no left over food scraps attracting unwanted pests, and no flammable tea towels sitting dangerously close to the stove.
With everything tidy and organised your kitchen becomes a safe, welcoming and productive space to be in, and you are left to focus on the most important task at hand – cooking delicious meals for you and your family.