Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Cleaning, Part III


This is the last installment of the Spring Cleaning series -- The Kitchen. I'm not going to tell you how to clean the closets, the basement, the garage or any other room you might have in your house. I'm afraid you're on your own there. By now you should basically have the concept of cleaning around the room and then cleaning what's in the room, right?

The kitchen is a little different from the bedrooms (yes, like no beds) and the bath (like no toilet), mostly in that kitchen dirt is very different from the dust in the bedroom and living room and hair spray overspray and soap scum in the bath. Kitchen dirt is tough. If you cook (hey, everybody doesn't) you have a greasy film built up on the ceiling, the walls, the cabinets. It's not easy.You also have cabinets and drawers which need to be cleaned out (don't even consider skipping them -- they need it!). Spring cleaning the kitchen is a big job, so I recommend you not clean anything else on the same day. Take your time, pace yourself, and you'll get it done.

As with the other rooms, gather your supplies: lots of clean, dry cotton rags (old dish towels work well here), ammonia and white vinegar or another cleaner of your choice, some cleanser (like Ajax or Comet, or if you don't like harsh cleaner -- baking soda), a bottle of furniture polish like Liquid Gold (if you have wood cabinets), the broom with the t-shirt wrap (here), sponges with scrubby sides, a toothbrush, a scrub brush, the sweeper with attachments, a couple of empty laundry baskets or boxes, a trash bag. Also you'll need a couple of fresh lemons or about a cup of bottled lemon juice (I really prefer the fresh lemon).

First, you are to put everything that is sitting out away. If there are items in your kitchen that don't belong there, put them in a box or empty laundry basket to deliver at their respective place later -- don't leave the kitchen. If anything is left sitting out, put it in an empty box or in the middle of the kitchen table -- just get it off the counters/refrigerator/stove.

Now you are going to start at the window just as you did in the bedrooms, living room, and bathroom. The kitchen window treatments, like in the bathroom, need to be cleaned at least twice a year, so go ahead and take them down. If they are washable, take them to the washer and put them in. If they are "dry clean only," shake them outdoors, fold them and put them in the car for the next trip to the dry cleaner. If you have blinds, read this, and do it. Clean the window inside and out with ammonia or vinegar water. Clean the sill, giving it a good scrub to remove any greasy film. If you have caulk around the sill (as with any caulk in the kitchen) determine if it needs to be replaced. If it's dry, cracked, or moldy, make a note to come back and replace it later (or give that task to your honey.) Wash the window frame all the way around.

Now move to the ceiling. Like you did with the bedroom walls, use your broom with the t-shirt to sweep the corners of the ceilings and walls to remove cobwebs and gathered dust. Take it all around the perimeter of the room getting above any upper cabinets.  Push hard -- the dust on the ceiling of the kitchen is a greasy dust and it won't brush off with a quick swipe. If possible -- if you have a high ladder and you can safely get up on it -- dust the tops of your upper cabinets. Mine are attached to the soffit above, but many people have open space above the cabinets and it gets mightily dusty up there. It helps to have someone spot you you when you do this (but, if you are stubborn, like me, you'll do it without). Just don't fall. Please.

Now, again, if you can get up on a ladder, clean your light fixture or fixtures (turn it off and let it cool first). If you are at all shaky on the ladder wait until you have a spotter. Use vinegar water or ammonia water solution and wipe it all down and dry it. Don't forget to dust the bulbs as well. If your shades are removable glass I find that the dishwasher does a grand job of cleaning them. Just run them on a gentle cycle.

Now we are going to move down to the inside of the upper cabinets. Starting in a corner, you are going to do this with each cabinet, moving around the room until you get back where you started: remove the items on the top shelf to a counter below; wipe the shelf with ammonia or vinegar water, and then dry it with a clean, dry rag; replace to the shelf the items you want to keep -- this is a good time to be selective. If you haven't used it in a year, toss it or give it away. It's helpful to have an extra empty box for giveaway stuff. Move to the next shelf doing the same thing until you are finished with that cabinet.

I don't have a lot of wall space in my kitchen so I don't have a lot of walls to scrub, but if you do, get them in between upper cabinets with your ammonia water and some cleanser if necessary. Scrub ceiling to floor if you think they need it.

Keep moving, changing your cleaning water as necessary. You'll be at this a while, but keep plugging away. Stop for a snack if you need some energy, and do what you must to keep the kids from killing each other. Maybe you could feed them, too. ;-)

After you have cleaned out all of the upper cabinets and everything is either put back or placed in the trash or giveaway box, make a clean bucket of ammonia water and wash the outside of the cabinets, and the handles, and dry them. You might have to scrub extra hard around the pull, but don't use anything scratchy like a scrub pad. You could use a spot of cleanser or baking soda for some light abrasion. If you have stained wood cabinets, take a clean, dry rag and polish the outsides of the cabinets with good furniture polish (my mother always used Liquid Gold, so to me, it's the best).

Now move to the appliances. Clean the top of the stove using as harsh an abrasive as the stove will tolerate -- don't scratch it. Hopefully you know what gets your stovetop clean by now. If you have grates, you might put them in the dishwasher for a run. If your grates are chipped, however, don't do that or you'll end up with rust spots. Some people take their stove grates outdoors to give them a good scrub. Take the oven racks out while you're at it if that's the method you use. If you have an self-cleaning oven, you can do that on another day when you're not going to be in the kitchen. They generate a lot of heat and that's one thing you don't need today. If you don't have a self-cleaning oven, you're on your own here (I have always had a self-cleaner). I read this guide at Martha Stewart Living -- maybe it will help. Don't forget the storage drawer in the bottom if you have one. And if you have a strong guy around, pull the stove out and sweep underneath and behind (if you have a gas stove, be careful of the gas connection when you pull it out and push it back). If you pull it out, wash the sides of the stove as well as the sides of the cabinets next door-- there are always little spills between the cabinet and stove that need a good scrubbing with cleanser.

Now clean the microwave. Clean the outside with some ammonia water and a good rough rag. Dry the glass. Then move to the inside. Fill a large glass measuring cup with about half a cup of water and then squeeze the juice of a lemon in it. Place the lemon in the water as well. Place it in the microwave and set it to about 3 minutes on High. After it has finished running, check to see if the walls of the microwave are moist. If they are not, set it for another two minutes or so. Then, with the door closed, leave it sit while you do something else.  After about 15 minutes go back and wipe the microwave out. The lemon water should have loosened most of the stuff (you should clean your micro more often if there is much left) and you should be able to wipe it out quickly and easily. And it smells fresh, doesn't it?

Now move to the refrigerator. First, wash the outside with a clean batch of ammonia water. If you have stuff on the front with magnets, take it all off and sift through the stuff while you sit with a cup of tea (see, I'm not ruthless). After the front, top, and sides of the fridge have been washed, you really should use the sweeper to vacuum off the back and underneath. If moving the fridge might damage the floor, don't move it alone. If you have vinyl or hardwood floor, place a large piece of cardboard in front of the fridge (or at the very least some heavy brown paper) and gently roll the fridge onto the paper or cardboard. If you have a thin sheet of wood, that works too. If you have a very skinny attachment to your sweeper, push it under the fridge as far as it will go and suction the dust. Your fridge will operate better if you occasionally clean under and behind, so try not to neglect it.

If you have the kind of fridge that needs to be manually defrosted you're on your own here. I saw my grandma do that once when I was young, but I'm pretty sure even her fridge now self defrosts. For everyone with a self defrosting fridge, start inside on the top shelf. Remove everything to a counter or box (throwing out anything that you don't want anymore) and wipe the shelf and the sides with clean vinegar water. Dry the shelf and put back the items that belong there. Move to the next shelf all the way down to the fruit and vegetable bins. Take them out and clean them in the sink if you can.

Then move to the freezer and do the same thing, tossing anything you don't want or you can't verify how long it's been in there. When you are finished put everything back and grab a spoonful of ice cream if you must (just the part that got soft while it was sitting out). If your refrigerator has a drain pan underneath, pull it out and clean it -- outdoors with a hose if possible. Dry it and replace it.

Now to the dishwasher. I've never done much beyond cleaning the outside and around the edges, but I have run a short cycle with a cup of bleach inside the bottom of the tub, and I have followed that up with a short cycle of lemon juice in the bottom. The bleach will kill any bacteria and the lemon juice will help get rid of any deposits.

Any other appliances? Well, not in my kitchen. You might pour a cup of ice down the disposal and squeeze in half a lemon. Turn it on and run the hot water for a minute. Then turn it off and run the hot water for another couple minutes. That should clean out the inside and disinfect. If it's stinky down there, pour in a half cup of bleach and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Then add more ice and do it again, minus the lemon juice.

Now, start on the drawers. Remove everything and go through the same steps you did when you cleaned the upper cabinets, throwing away or giving away what you don't use. Wipe out the drawer using a clean bucket of ammonia water (and by now you should be using some clean rags), dry it and replace the items you'll keep.

Now do the bottom cabinets -- same process as the upper cabinets except you can sit on the floor this time. When you are finished with the inside, scrub the drawer fronts and the exterior of the cabinets, dry them and if you have stained wood, polish them.

Now I go back up to the counter tops. You were using them while you cleaned the drawers and the lower cabinets, so wipe off any debris and then give them a good scrubbing with cleanser. Get the corners with the toothbrush and around the faucet at the sink. Do the back splash while you're at it. If you don't normally clean the sink with bleach (a la Fly Lady) do that now. Fill the sink (plug it first) with hot water and add a couple glugs of bleach. Let it sit as long as you can while you are cleaning something else or taking a break. Up to an hour but at least 15 minutes. Scrub any leftover marks in the sink and rinse all the counter tops well.

The floor is the last thing to clean (if you need to clean your pantry I suggest you do that another day). Remove any rugs to be washed thoroughly. Then sweep -- using the vacuum attachment to get the corners well. Then (and please forgive me, but you absolutely can do this twice a  year, if you don't do every week) get down on your hands and knees (use a folded towel for padding if you need it) and, using some clean vinegar water, your scrub brush and a rag, scrub and the wipe from one corner to the door. Get the baseboards good while you're down there and any walls that are low (like under a large window). If you have wood floors, you'll have to use the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning. The scrub brush method works for tile, linoleum, engineered wood (laminate), and vinyl. If you have a floor with wax on it (there are still a few out there) you might want to schedule another day to remove the wax and reapply.

I apologize about any typos and/or grammatical errors in this post. I really rushed to get it done. I'm tired of spring cleaning, how 'bout you?

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” ~~ Mark Twain



  1. I'm pooped just reading that....and thinking it must be margarita time once I got to Mark Twain's name. :)))

  2. I'm tellin' ya, sister. Pass the salt!

  3. I'm seeing what the lemon juice will do for my microwave. My brother (with Downs Syndrome) made popcorn, but set the timer for 20 min...after 5, we had a lovely fire. My microwave was bought new a year ago...and it's not used very much, so it DID look still very new. Hoping the lemon will help with the smell. We've tried baking soda to no avail.

    Don't have a garbage disposal now, but we did in one military housing unit, and the maintenance guy said that grinding up ice cubes was an excellent way to clean the thing. He also said to throw a half a lemon in there - not just the juice. It certainly makes things sweeter smelling.

  4. This weekend's project: I need to tackle my silverware drawer...something spilled on the counter when the drawer was opened...I just discovered a pool of sticky something under the flatware divider. Yuck.

  5. I'm going to have to bookmark these. I'm sooo swamped these days. Found a cleaning lady who is coming tomorrow! We'll see how that goes. =) I do love cleaning and having a clean house, so when I get behind, I feel awful!


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!