Ready, set, go!
1. Clear the counters of anything that doesn’t belong: straggling mail, cookbooks, permission slips awaiting signatures.
2. Fill the sink with hot water and a few squirts of dish soap. Drop in items that need soaking, like the crisper drawer, the dish rack, and the microwave turntable.
3. Empty the refrigerator, tossing anything that has expired. Throw dirty food-storage containers into the sink to soak. Working from top to bottom, wipe down the shelves with a paper towel or a rag spritzed with a nontoxic all-purpose cleaner.
4. Dust the high zones, knocking dirt and debris to the floor, where they will be swept up later. Using a telescoping duster, start right above the sink and work your way around the room, cleaning upper corners, light fixtures, and tops of cabinets. Don’t forget the top of the refrigerator. When you’re back at the sink, you’re ready to move on.
5. Clean the upper cabinets and anything else on the walls, including a mounted microwave. Spray the microwave interior with all-purpose cleaner and let sit for two minutes. With a damp, soapy cloth, wipe down the exterior. (If it’s stainless steel, use a cloth moistened with diluted white vinegar, instead of soapy water, to clean any fingerprints.) Next, wipe the doors and the pulls of the upper cabinets and anything else (frames, hooks, vent grates) you encounter as you circle the room. With a fresh damp, soapy cloth, wipe down the backsplash if you have one.