By Amy Hunt
Kitchen cleaning can be tiresome, but when done right, and in the proper order, it can be fast and simple—and will leave your space looking better than ever ready for another day of food prep and cooking.
Let's face it, cleaning a kitchen isn't anyone's favorite task, but it's a necessary part of home maintenance—and oh so satisfying when it's done.
Lynsey Crombie, cleaning expert, TV star and 'Queen of Clean', explained to w&h, "The kitchen is normally the hub of the family home and gets more traffic than other rooms. But this means clutter zones often build up in the kitchen too—particularly if you have a kitchen island." And while kitchen storage ideas can be great to help with keeping your home more streamlined and organized, a good kitchen cleaning routine is vital to keeping it in tip-top shape day-to-day.
So below, we share our guide to kitchen cleaning, including how often we should all be doing it, and the simple step-by-step routine to ensure we're cleaning efficiently, for a neat and hygienic space.
Of course, many of the steps below are common sense—but if you follow this easy guide to the letter, you'll be able to create a more efficient kitchen cleaning routine that you don't even have to think about, and can get finished off in just half an hour..
Kitchen cleaning: a step-by-step guide
Below we've detailed our guide to the best way to complete a thorough, deep-clean of your kitchen. By following all the steps, no task will be missed, and you'll be rewarded with a sparkling clean space at the end of it.
1. Throw all scraps away
Before you get started with your deep-clean, you'll want to get rid of any and all food debris that you can—scrape any plates, bowls and pans off into the trash and get rid of any raw ingredients from preparing your meal, such as onion skins or empty cans. Now is the time to empty out all of the leftover food from your kitchen gadgets too. Even the best food processors and best blenders can be responsible for creating mess in your kitchen!
Then, make sure to get rid of any unnecessary items that might be lingering in your kitchen—think documents, technology or empty plastic bags. If have a lot of pans lying around or have run out of spaces to put them, try using some of our clever pan storage ideas. Decluttering your home, even in a small way, is an important part of the kitchen cleaning process.
Once all of that is thrown away and dealt with, you are free to clean and scrub without any obstacles.
2. Start from the top
If you're doing a deeper clean than your everyday clean, Lynsey recommends working from top to bottom. She said, "Always start at the highest point when cleaning as dust and dirt falls—so, if you have chosen to clean your kitchen cupboard tops then start with these, before moving on to your floors and worktops."
Start with kitchen cabinets (see our guide to organizing kitchen cabinets here too), hob extractor fans and the tops of fridges, for example—before moving on to kitchen counters, sinks, appliances, and finally, the floor. Working out how to clean the fridge for example, is simple enough, but doing it as the first step in a kitchen cleaning routine can eliminate too much extra cleaning needing to be done as you go about tidying the rest of the room.
3. Fill the dishwasher
Now you should only have dirty pots and pans (and mugs, and plates, and crockery—basically all of your kitchen essentials) remaining for you to deal with. This is the time to put anything and everything you possibly can into the dishwasher—which is, of course, a super time-efficient way to clean your dishes whilst also getting rid of the clutter. And if that too is getting a bit whiffy, now is also the time to clean your dishwasher—see our guide to how to clean a dishwasher here.
If you aren't lucky enough to have a dishwasher though, pile your plates and cutlery next to the side of the sink (or in the sink, depending on your preference), so they're right where they need to be when it comes to washing up.
4. Wash up
The next step—and perhaps everyone's least favorite—is of course, washing all of your dishes. While some items—such as your best induction pans, which might have lots of oil sitting in them—will need soaking in warm soapy water for a little while, others can be washed and placed on the side to dry immediately.
This is when you will wash up any items that cannot be placed in the dishwasher, too, if you have opted to use your dishwasher as part of your kitchen cleaning process.
Washing up all of your dirty cooking items leaves the space free for you to actually clean your kitchen, which, after preparing a meal, is often the messiest it will be all day.
5. Clean your small appliances
Jennifer Sharpe, founder of cleaning product company Fabulosa, explains that the next step is to "Clean small appliances. Shine and clear debris from your microwave, coffee maker, toaster and any other appliances on your countertops."
This shouldn't and doesn't need to take too long, but will ensure that your kitchen space looks sparkling and extra clean at the end of the day. Plus, it's a good way to stay on top of them to ensure they never get too dirty for use. She says, "Wipe down the exterior of each small appliance by using a microfiber cloth dampened with a disinfectant spray."
6. Wipe down surfaces
Cleaning expert Lynsey Crombie* advises, "In general, with your daily clean, always start with your surfaces—and finish with the floor."
Use a hot cloth and a disinfectant to wipe down your surfaces, sweeping smaller pieces of food into the cloth and rinsing the cloth in the sink. With bigger pieces of debris, it might be more helpful to collect it in your hands, to throw in the nearby bin.
Jennifer also suggests you "wipe down the exterior of your stove and oven."
"A deep clean of your oven/cooker might be best for another time, but cleaning the exterior regularly goes a long way in obtaining a tidy kitchen," she explains.
7. Disinfect your sink
It might be your last thought after spending ages scrubbing dirty dishes in it, but even your sink needs a clean of its own—and more often than you might think. Jennifer Sharpe, co-founder of Fabulosa, said, "Deep cleaning your sink is easier than it might sound. Sinks can get really dirty through the day so it's really important to disinfect the sink daily."
She advises, "Fill your sink with warm water and add diluted disinfectant (we love Fabulosa, with one cap for every 400ml of water). Using a cloth, wipe down the entire area, including the taps." It's also worth doing the area around the sink too, as this tends to get populated with bits of food and water, too.
If you have a stainless steel sink, you may want to read our guide to how to clean a stainless steel sink specifically—as they can be fragile and easily damaged.
8. Clean your floors
The counters, sink, appliances and dishes are done—the next job is to sweep, vacuum, and mop the floor, which may have collected some rubbish during your kitchen cleaning routine so far.
Jennifer advises, "First, sweep with a broom to pick up all the larger crumbs and debris that end up on the kitchen floor. After sweeping, use a vacuum to get the fine dust and dirt. Follow it up with a thorough mopping to get rid of dirt and grime."
If you've got a smaller kitchen, you might actually get a more thorough clean by getting on your hands and knees with a disinfectant wipe, rather than a mop. A wipe will allow you to really get into the nooks and crannies of your dirty floor. However, this isn't advised for a larger kitchen!
You should also remember to clean your floors according to their material. For example, when working out how to clean laminate floors, you should take into account that you shouldn't use abrasive, scratchy cloths, or it could damage the surface of the floor. Or, see our guide to the best steam cleaners for gentle and thorough cleaning.
9. Disinfect your sponges and cloths
Our kitchen cloths and sponges have worked hard for us during our kitchen cleaning routine, so it's important we don't forget to clean these too. As of course, they'll be filled with plenty of mucky dirt and grime from your scrubbing.
Jennifer’s advice is to fill your sink with water and add a capful of straight disinfectant for every 400ml of water. "You can leave these cloths to soak overnight and by morning your kitchen will smell absolutely beautiful and your cloths will have been well and truly disinfected," she said.
10. Take out the trash
Of course, the final step in any kitchen cleaning routine is to take out the trash. Your trash bags should now be full of any leftover food scraps, empty bottles or packages, and any other rubbish that you've thrown away over the process of cleaning your kitchen.
To finish up the process of cleaning your kitchen, take the trash bags outside to your bins, and give your kitchen garbage can a quick clean over with some disinfectant, wiping out any bits of food that may have fallen in. Then, replace the bag, and you're good to go.
How often should we clean our kitchen?
When it comes to how often we should be cleaning our kitchens, the answer varies somewhat. For most people, the kitchen should have a daily top-up clean. So often should we be cleaning everything in our kitchen?
- Surfaces: According to Lynsey, "Kitchen surfaces, hobs and sinks should be cleaned daily using a disinfectant type product. Kitchen floors need a daily vacuum paying particular attention to around tables and bar stools." So in your kitchen cleaning routine, make sure to prioritize this task.
- Trash cans: Some tasks don't need to be done every day. Instead, you can do them every few days—for example, taking out the trash, thoroughly cleaning the hob, and wiping down your hob splash back.
- Floors, kitchen cupboards: A clean "where floors are either mopped or steamed, the kitchen cupboard doors are wiped down, and the where kitchen bin needs a good disinfect" should happen once a week ideally.
- Dishwasher and fridge: "Dishwashers, fridges, tops of cupboards and ovens should be added to your family cleaning schedule as a monthly task, but if never hurts to quickly wipe over your oven after every use just using a cloth and warm soapy water."
So that's for the everyday cleans—so how often should we be doing a big, deep clean of our kitchen? Big cleans, Lynsey suggests, should happen weekly to keep on top of dirt and grime. "A deeper kitchen clean is needed once a week", she said.
Research from homeware company Thomas Sanderson suggests we don't actually always complete our kitchen cleaning routines or clean our kitchen appliances as often as we perhaps should. According to their study, our hobs often go five days between cleans, while the microwave usually goes 60 days before a clean, and the fridge, a whole 365 days! That's one clean of the fridge a year for most people—which unfortunately, isn't anywhere near as often as we should clean it. It's enough to have you reaching for the soap and water...
What are the dirtiest spots in our kitchen?
While a proper kitchen cleaning process is an important part of the maintenance of any home, there are spots that we might often miss or forget about as we go. And it might surprise you, but there are a couple of spots in our kitchen that harbour more germs than anywhere else.
- High touch points: Lynsey explains, "High touch points are going to be the dirty hot spots in your kitchen; for example, when you open your kitchen cupboards looking for ingredients in the middle of cooking, the handles are going to get sticky and start to harbour germs. The same goes for the knobs and buttons on your oven."
- Light switches: And surprisingly, she also confessed, "Electrical and light switches are another germ hotspot." So be sure to give these a once over with the disinfectant as you're cleaning your kitchen too!
- Appliances: These might not seem dirty, but we often use our kitchen appliances—such as our mini food processors or our best hand blenders—when we're right in the middle of cooking or chopping, so they're highly likely to get food left on them which could harbour bacteria.
- Kitchen sink: But most terrifyingly is our kitchen sink. "Your kitchen sink, if not cleaned daily, can actually be dirtier than your toilet seat. So make sure it does get a daily disinfect," Lynsey says. *Gulp...*
Other spots we might forget are kitchen windows—to know how to clean windows properly, see our guide here.
And, take a look at our guide to how to clean a bathroom too, where we also detail the dirtiest spots in your bathroom that you might be missing when you clean.
Tips for making kitchen cleaning easier
Cleaning a kitchen, similarly to organizing a kitchen, can be tough and labour-intensive, so how can we make the whole process smoother and maybe even a little bit more fun?
- Turn cleaning into an exercise session: "A good cleaning session can get your heart rate going, especially if you’re doing some of the more labor-intensive tasks, like mopping the floors, "Jennifer says, “One way to make these jobs fun is to track how many steps you take or monitor your heart rate whilst cleaning the sink. We guarantee that you won’t mind doing these jobs with the right frame of mind.”
- Make sure you have all the right products to hand: You don't want to get to cleaning your floors and realise you don't have any floor cleaner left. Make sure, before you get started, that you've got all the essential tools ready to go—think cloths for wiping, sprays and disinfectant for cleaning, kitchen towels for any larger bits of debris, or any particularly products you like to use whilst cleaning your kitchen. This will ensure the whole process moves along smoothly and gets finished as quickly as possible.
- Set a goal to clean every day for just five minutes: Jennifer explains, "You can do anything for 5 minutes, so make a goal to clean every day for just that amount of time. If you go on for longer, great—but don’t feel compelled to, or guilty about stopping. Sometimes the best way to make something tolerable is just to not do it for long. Jennifer suggests starting with the kitchen and attempting to clean the sink, taps and worktops. She says, "Even a job as small as this will make you feel a sense of accomplishment, and you might even enjoy it!”
- Make it fun with an audiobook or great playlist: Let's face it—kitchen cleaning is not one of life's most pleasurable chores, so why not make the whole thing a bit more enjoyable by whacking on your latest audiobook, or a fun, up-tempo music playlist and get dancing? The whole thing will be done before you know it!
* 'The 15-Minute Clean: The Quickest Way to a Sparkling Home' by ‘Queen of Clean’ Lynsey Crombie is published by Welbeck. Available to pre-order now.
Amy Hunt is Life Channel Editor at womanandhome.com, having been with the brand since 2015. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on either women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly, Goodto.com, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on womanandhome.com. She is passionate about everything from books, to homes, to food and the latest news on the royal family. When she isn't editing or updating articles on cleaning, homewares, the newest home gadgets, or the latest books releases for the website, she's busy burying her nose in a gripping thriller, practising yoga, or buying new homeware of her own.
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