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A 9-Step Cleaning Checklist That'll Leave Your Kitchen Sparkling

Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
By Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
Eliza Sullivan is a food writer and SEO editor at mindbodygreen. She writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She studied journalism at Boston University.
Image by Emotion Matters / Stocksy
March 20, 2021
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In many homes, the kitchen is more than just where we cook: It's where we gather (when we can) and maybe even where we work out. So keeping it clean is super important—but it's not always easy because, as we just said, it's where we spend most of our time.

And while we do clean the kitchen often enough, there are some sections that don't always get as much love as they could. Use this checklist this weekend to dive into the little niche cleaning and organizing tasks that will make this center of the home feel refreshed ahead of the start of your spring cleaning projects. After all, cleaning in smaller segments is actually more efficient—and it's way less daunting too:

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1. Give your microwave a real clean.

Sure, you've wiped it out when things splatter, but giving this small appliance a bit of love will make a big difference in having such a whole fresh-feeling kitchen. Since it's the appliance we're most likely to turn to on busy days, it's extra nice when it's clean and ready to go.

For an easy natural clean, simply run it with a bowl of water and some lemon, if you have it, inside for up to five minutes—but don't open the door for at least 15! The steam will get to work on stuck-on messes, and the lemon will refresh the smell.

2. Deodorize your trash can.

Another small space that may sometimes get neglected is your trash can itself. Deep cleaning it with liquid Castile soap is a simple way to keep it fresher for longer, but you can also make little adjustments to keep it fresh all the time.

Some deodorizers to try include a quick essential oil spritz, adding a sprinkle of baking soda, or putting together a homemade citrus powder which doubles down on improving the scent.

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3. Deep clean your coffeemaker.

This is an oft-neglected cleaning project (simply because we don't think about it). Most of us use our coffeepots every day—they definitely could use a bit of a scrub. But once you've washed all the removable parts with soap and water, you can actually clean the mechanisms of your coffeepot or pod machine using a simple solution of vinegar and water.

4. Spruce up your blender.

While you would wash a blender after every use, that's not to say it couldn't use a bit of a deeper clean. We chatted with some experts (aka people who use their blenders a lot), and they said it's really as simple as adding a bit of dish soap and switching it on.

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5. Reorganize your fridge.

Instead of just adding new groceries to the mix, why not make an effort to give your fridge a full treatment. According to the professional organizer we chatted with, the best thing to start with is making a list of all the things you have in your fridge, and then using the list to plan how you'll organize—that way, you don't let the cold out, and you save energy.

6. Clean your cutting boards.

These are another one of those kitchen tools we always clean after use but maybe don't deep clean often. Spending some extra time with your cutting boards will help them last longer. Every two weeks, wooden cutting boards should be disinfected with vinegar, and once a month or so, you should consider essentially exfoliating the cutting board with lemon and sea salt.

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7. Replace (or sanitize) your sponge.

When was the last time you swapped out your kitchen sponge? Or the last time you gave it a good wash? According to a toxicologist, we should be disinfecting it almost every day. Rhea Mehta, Ph.D., advises popping your sponge in the microwave for a minute or so to deactivate bacteria or running your sponge through the dishwasher if you have one. Overall, though, it should be swapped out about once a month.

8. Cleanse the drain.

There's nothing worse than a smelly sink drain, but luckily, refreshing it is as simple as using a bit of the ultimate natural cleaning hero: vinegar! "If there is mold or mildew down there, the vinegar will take care of that," says Becky Rapinchuk of Clean Mama.

If you have a garbage disposal, she suggests a mix of lemon and baking soda for a slightly abrasive and fresh-smelling finish.

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9. Add a plant!

This is less cleaning and more just fun refresh, but if you don't already have a plant or two in your kitchen space, consider this is your sign to head to a nursery or plant shop! Your best option is to grab an herb or two that will thrive in whatever environment your kitchen provides—is it bright and sunny, or a bit shady? Some of our favorite options for the kitchen are oregano, basil, thyme, and lemongrass.

Once you get into the habit of taking this little bit of extra care in your kitchen, you may find yourself hitting these tasks in your normal cleanup—and that's sure to make things feel a bit more calm when it does come time for a deep spring clean. If you feel like your kitchen is well and truly clean, then maybe consider hitting some of these other parts of your home that you can clean up naturally with white vinegar.

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Eliza Sullivan
Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer

Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine, TheTaste.ie, and SUITCASE magazine.