One of the unexpected challenges of social distancing and working from home? The incessant need to clean the house. With more families at home and for longer, every room has seen more use – and that goes doubly for the kitchen. Eating out has been on the decline and without meals usually eaten at school or work, most everyone is cooking more. As a result, many kitchens in America have been in a semi-permanent state of disarray since March 2019. The good news is that there are easy ways to help prevent messes or extend cleanliness a little while longer. With a few quick, easy and inexpensive tips, you can get your kitchen back in shape.
Keep your stainless-steel gleaming
Though stainless-steel appliances have been all the rage for years, the surface is notorious for showing smudges, especially if there are kids in the household. Though there are numerous hacks for keeping stainless-steel clean, there’s only one trick that helps prevent smudges. The process itself is easy: Apply white vinegar to your fridge (preferably through a spray bottle) and use a soft cloth to clean the fridge. When it’s clean, dip the cloth into extra virgin olive oil and polish it into the fridge, wiping in the direction of the grain. Do one more wipe-down to remove excess oil and stand back to see a shining fridge that is resistant to fingerprints and smudges.
Prevent bad odors
When cooking more, it’s easy for the kitchen to pick up bad smells – which isn’t appealing when preparing food. Odors can be avoided by doing some simple maintenance weekly or monthly. For instance, if you have a wood cutting board, give it a deep clean every month or so by spreading kosher salt on the surface and using half of a lemon to scrub the salt in. Then, simply rinse off the board. Lingering meat, garlic or onion smells will be noticeably improved. Another overlooked source of odor: The drawers in the fridge where vegetable rot can make the entire refrigerator smell bad.
Keep your faucet head grime free
Black or green sludge can accumulate in and around your sink faucet head thanks to the debris that is filtered through tap water. This isn’t only unsightly, it’s not ideal to drink from water that’s passed through that grime. Fortunately, the fix is extremely easy and something that can be done without any elbow work. Simply fill a sandwich bag or with equal parts white vinegar and water, submerge the faucet head in it and tie up with a rubber band or other fastener. Leave over night and rinse thoroughly in the morning.
Know the strength of your dishwasher
Many people believe that pre-washing dishes is the only way to ensure they get clean. With many modern dishwashers and high-quality detergents, this just simply isn’t the case. Excepting baked-on problems or bigger pieces of food, it’s unnecessary to pre-wash for smaller messes. If you’re unsure if your detergent or dishwasher can do the job, take a test run with a small batch of dirty dishes. If it seems to work out, save yourself time and energy in the future by skipping that task and cutting dishwashing time in half.
Invest in the right storage
In the pre-pandemic days, many of us rarely bought as many groceries – and now it can feel like the kitchen is overflowing with them. Inexpensive storage solutions can make all the difference. Using spices for the first time in years and find yourself getting flustered by sorting through the labels? Pick up a spice rack that allows labels for commonly used spices. Finding that your cabinets are filling up with canned foods and chip bags? Create separators where everything has a space and every inch is being used economically. It’s well worth the investment to feel organized and prepared.
While we don’t know how much longer we’ll be confined mostly to home, there is one thing that’s for certain – the kitchen is always the heart of the home, pandemic or not. Take some time to create a space that is inviting, clean and easy to use.