Set jars of liquid or jelly on coasters, or line shelves with nonadhesive cork liner. When drips occur, just replace the coasters or the lining.
To repel stains on countertops, twice a year apply grout sealer (available at hardware stores) to tile, and stone sealer (also at hardware stores) to stone countertops. Follow the package instructions.
Instead of using wood cutting boards, switch to plastic. Since wood shouldn’t be sanitized in the dishwasher (wood can warp when wet), it can harbor bacteria, which gets on knives and can invade your food-prep area. Pop plastic boards into the dishwasher after every use to kill germs.
To make cleanup faster when you cook, cover countertops with sheets of wax paper, parchment paper, or butcher paper before preparing food. Juices from meats, chicken, and fish never hit the counters, so there’s no need to disinfect. When finished, crumple up the paper and toss.
Freezer and Refrigerator
Place a box of baking soda in the freezer and another in the refrigerator to absorb and neutralize smells; replace them every three months. Alternatives: a mound of charcoal; coffee beans in a bowl; or a cotton ball soaked in vanilla extract and kept in the refrigerator until dry.
Every month or so, dump ice cubes from the trays and make a new batch. Stale ice traps odors, like those from frozen fish or meat.
Grind the skins of oranges, lemons, and limes in the garbage disposal with a handful of ice cubes. The rock-hard texture of the ice cubes sharpens the blades; the citrus scent of the grated peels clears the air. Or make ice cubes of vinegar instead of water. The vinegar will deodorize the disposal.
Reduce grease splatters on the stovetop and the hood by putting a mesh splatter screen over pans when cooking.