The Big Three of your kitchen can get pretty gross. Give them a thorough (once a year!) once-over.
1. Empty it out. Remove all items and toss any that have expired.
2. Sanitize the drawers. Take them out (shelves too, if detachable) and scrub every side with a sponge dipped in warm, soapy water. Sprinkle baking soda on any stubborn spots and scrub again. Rinse and pat dry.
3. Deodorize. Get rid of odors by wiping the inside walls with a microfiber cloth spritzed with an all-purpose cleaner. Wipe again using a paper towel dipped in a bowl of diluted vanilla extract.
4. Remove dust. Using the brush attachment, vacuum the coils, which may be behind the refrigerator. Wipe down the grille (typically at the base) with a dryer sheet.
5. Clean the gaskets. Use the soapy water from the shelf-scrubbing to wipe down the refrigerator and freezer gaskets (door seals). When they’re dry, apply a bit of petroleum jelly to prevent sticking and tearing.
6. Restock. Insert the clean shelves and drawers. To avoid gunking them up with anything sticky or dusty, wipe the bottom of each item with a damp paper towel before putting it back.
Bonus tip: Degrime the drip pan. If your refrigerator has a removable drip pan, soak it for a few minutes in hot, soapy water, scrub with a sponge, then rinse.
1. Disinfect. If your oven is self-cleaning, follow the manufacturer’s how-to. If it’s not, wipe the interior with a damp cloth. To soften caked-on gunk, fill a casserole dish halfway with water, add the juice of 3 lemons plus the rinds, and bake at ° for 1 hour. Let cool for 15 minutes, then apply a paste of baking soda and water to all sides with a nonabrasive sponge. Wet the sponge in the lemon water, then scrub. Wipe clean with a damp paper towel.
2. Vacuum up debris. Pull the unit away from the wall and, using the hose attachment, remove crumbs and dust from the floor. Push it back in.
3. Scrub the stovetop. Apply a paste of equal parts baking soda and dish soap plus a few drops of water. (This is safe on any cooktop, electric or gas.) Let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe thoroughly with a damp cloth. Buff dry.
4. Refresh the racks. Place the racks and grates in a plastic garbage bag, spray generously with a degreasing cleaner (like Simple Green), and tie the bag closed. Let sit for 1 hour, then rinse each piece in a sink filled with hot, soapy water.
5. Wash the exhaust. To degrease the overhead filter, remove it and soak it for 15 minutes in a sink filled with hot water and a scoop of OxiClean. Rinse and dry. Next, clean the piece on the wall: Apply a paste of baking soda and dish soap and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe clean with a soft sponge and buff dry.
1. Clean the interior. To remove buildup, mix 2 tablespoons baking soda with 16 ounces of water in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 2 minutes. Transfer to a spray bottle and spritz the inside of the appliance, the door interior, and the rim. Wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.
2. Clear the cutlery container. Shake the basket upside down over a trash can to jostle out any debris.
3. Flush out impurities. When the dishwasher is empty, pour ¼ cup baking soda into the detergent dispenser and run a rinse cycle on the hottest temperature.
4. Remove residue. Use a vinegar-dampened cloth to clean out the detergent dispenser and wipe down the spray arms.
Bonus tip: Dishes coming out grimy? Soak the filter (inside the dishwasher’s base) for an hour in a sinkful of hot water plus a scoop of dish powder. Scrub the mesh with a small brush and rinse.
The Cleaning Pros: Debra Johnson, Manager of the training program at Merry Maids; Melissa Maker, founder of the Clean My Space Cleaning Company; Donna Smallin Kuper, author of Cleaning Plain & Simple; Chris Zeisler, Technical Service Supervisor at RepairClinic.com.