The kitchen is the heart of the home.
That’s not just a warm-fuzzy saying to embroider on your dishtowels. It’s the truth. One of my biggest adjustments to motherhood was realizing how much my family expects to eat.
Like . . . every day. More than once.
When your goal is to create a company ready house, a thoroughly cleaned kitchen is a must. Guests expect to be fed, and most guests offer to help in the kitchen. The cleaner the kitchen, the more relaxed everyone will be.
Now, before I start let me clarify that THE most important thing when welcoming others into your home is to simply . . . be welcoming. If you only have time to wash the dishes and wipe down the counters, that’s okay. Relax and smile and share your food. Memories will be made.
Sometimes, though, the motivation of an impending party or visiting in-laws makes you want to get your home in the best condition possible, and it’s a great excuse to do a top-to-bottom kitchen cleaning.
Here are the steps I use to thoroughly clean the kitchen:
Pre-Step 1. Wash the dishes and declutter the countertops.
This is for my kindred spirits out there. The most frustrating thing about most cleaning checklists is that they operate under the assumption that you’ve already done the basic daily stuff. I’ll admit that I made this list first . . . and then went and did it to see how it really worked. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten such an essential step. I am sorry.
1. Dust from . . . top to bottom! (My time: around 6 minutes)
Knock down cobwebs from the ceiling, dust the light fixtures and wipe down the tops of the cabinets and fridge. No, food doesn’t touch these things, but the perfect taste combination can be ruined by the sight of a dust-bunny at eye level for someone taller than you. By getting the dusting out of the way first, the following steps will take care of the nastiness that you just sent floating to the ground.
2. Wipe down cabinets, walls, back-splash. (My time: 7 minutes)
It’s the kitchen. Things splatter and grease floats through the air, landing on every surface. Depending on available time, you can spot-wipe or thoroughly scrub it all. For this, I dip my rag into a sink-full of soapy water. Since dishwashing liquid is “specially formulated” to remove grease, it works well.
Don’t forget to wipe/scrub the top of the vent above the stove. Mine gets a lovely layer of dust/grease on it that the dusting in Step One can’t conquer.
For reference, I spot-wiped my dark cabinets and white back-splash. Spot-wiping makes a huge difference.
3. Clean the oven (3 1/2 hours) and microwave (9 minutes).
Somehow, these things are totally invisible to me until a helpful or dish-contributing guest opens them up. Confession here: I cleaned my oven today for the first time. We’ve lived in this house for five-and-a-half years. (Please don’t let this be the day my MIL finds my blog!) And . . . it’s self-cleaning.
To clean my microwave, I just put a bowl of water with a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in there and run it for two minutes. The steam helps loosen gunk and makes wiping out the microwave easier.
4. Scrub the counters, sink, and stove burners. (a little over ten minutes)
Using the right cleaning product for your types of counter-tops, scrub them well. Move everything off of about a three-foot section at a time, scrubbing all the way to the edges. Replace everything in a section before moving to the next. (Yes, that’s a Flylady thing!)
I use Comet, which is okay for my countertops. I find that even with wiping down regularly, they get stains that I can only get out with a product like that. I also use a toothpick or my fingernail along the edges of the sink to get up the grime that gets stuck there.
5. Clean out (and off) the fridge.
I know. It’s one of my least favorite jobs too. But when you have a bunch of helpful friends or family in your kitchen, there’s no way to keep it hidden. Might as well throw away the tartar sauce from last decade now.
While you’re at it, glance over the artwork/spelling lists/school calendars that are displayed on the outside of the fridge and remove the ones that are out of date. Wipe down the handles and other smudges.
6. Wipe down salt/pepper shakers, olive oil bottle, etc. (3 min)
Those things get gross.
7. Wipe down the trashcan. (Less than one minute.)
Irritating, right? I mean . . . it’s a trashcan! But because it’s a trashcan, people like me tend not to notice the nastiness that can stick to the sides of it.
And seriously . . . one minute?
8. Sweep and mop.
Sweep. Then mop. No rocket-science there. I don’t have a time for this (because I didn’t do it today!), but it generally takes less than 25 minutes.
**(The next three steps are important if others are bringing dishes to serve at your house!)
9. Put all of your serving utensils together.
It doesn’t matter where, as long as you can give a specific location when someone asks for a serving spoon. Even though, on a random Tuesday, it may not bother you to open three or four drawers to find what you need to serve the mashed potatoes, it might bother you to have to do it in front of your guests.
10. Put “like” pots/pans and casserole dishes together.
Again, people may need these random items, and you don’t want conversation to stop in the next room out of concern for all the banging going on in the kitchen as you search for that last clean skillet.
10. Fill and set out commonly needed items.
Use trays or baskets to gather together your salt, pepper, hot pads, etc. and put them on the counter so your guests don’t even have to ask. Also be sure your handsoap, dishwashing liquid, and a clean washcloth or towel are all out at the sink. (If someone wants to do the dishes . . . let them. It’s okay.)
Like I said, the most important thing is that you welcome guests into your home. If you only have thirty minutes to work on the kitchen, see how quickly you can move through steps 1-6. If you have all day, you can take your time and be more thorough. From experience, I know that having a plan of attack helps. It keeps me on track and lessens the chance that I’ll end up using all of my time decluttering a kitchen drawer!
P.S. At several points (specifically 2, 3, and 4) I thought that there was no way I was going to be able to complete this today. These tasks were taking forEVer. Notice the highest time out of those three is only ten minutes.
P.S.S. Putting this into step-by-step written format was a fantastic exercise for my Slob Brain. I plan to blog a behind-the-scenes post sometime next week!
Go here to print your own Kitchen Cleaning Checklist.
Tomorrow, I’ll share ways to use freezer cooking to make the most of your time with overnight guests!
Oh my gosh, seriously. My microwave gets so crusty before I really notice, probably because it’s not on eye level. But I always notice other people’s. In fact, when we house sat once, I scrubbed out their microwave because it bugged me so much.
I maintain that my life would be SO MUCH EASIER if the small human did not insist upon eating several times a day.
Rosie W says
Thank you for being realistic about the times required! I see so many lists that make out that you can scrub the kitchen top to bottom, including inside the oven and the weird tray under the fridge, in like 20 minutes. Does not compute!
Lisa Hetherington says
“One of my biggest adjustments to motherhood was realizing how much my family expects to eat.
Like . . . every day. More than once. ”
I really did laugh out loud here, Nony!! I love your humorous, down-to-earth style!!
Lori H says
Great post. I too am always surprised at dinner time that my family wants to eat AGAIN. Like dinner time doesn’t come every night 🙂
One addition to your list that I thought of when reading about putting all serving utensils together – I know you said not to open drawers, but we should all take a moment to clean out the silverware holder tray..I asked a guest once to set the table with silverware, and was embarrased to see all the crumbs that mysteriously live in the tray.
TyKes Mom says
This is great. I hate cleaning my kitchen. Especially on top of the cabinets. It seems to be a weekly task with the amount of dust that accumulates up there. Timing each task is such a great idea! It never is as bad as I think it will be. It’s just a matter of doing it!
S Ray says
Thank you for breaking it down for this slob. Seeing that it will only take a few minutes vs hours gives me hope.
You are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Fabulous!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Please don’t let this be the day my MIL finds my blog!
Oh that just cracked me up! Is it bad for me to say that I’ve given up on my kitchen? I can’t figure out where to put things and since the kids have been in charge of dishes for so long it is a huge hide-n-seek game to find the utensils or lids or bowls that I need. I know, I know a place for everything… but I can’t fit it in my kitchen! Blah, excuses, excuses— thank goodness I’m not having Christmas at my house this year–lol!
Great list – and thank you for the ‘details’ such as what kind of cleaning stuff to use. I remember my days of “So it says I should wipe out the microwave. With what? A damp cloth? Spray stuff? Bleach? Argh!!!” And I would give up and go read a book, stymied by the assumptions of people who are BORN knowing how to clean.
The only glaringly missed detail I would add comes in step 10. Take a quick look at your handsoap/dish soap as you set them out. Those containers get grungy! There’s a lot of bang for your buck in a 30 second wash off of those things. 🙂
Will you be making this into a list like you did your bathroom cleaning list for your kids? Or should I cut and paste? 🙂 I appreciate you doing all the work in creating this. It’s helpful for people like me. Your efforts do not go unnoticed!
Thanks for the reminder! I did mean to do that! (Not sure when I”ll get it done, though!)
Noni, just for you I will say that the week before Thanksgiving was the first time I had ever REALLY cleaned the stove. I have done a few attempts at cleaning the charcoal out of the bottom before, but had never really done a thorough cleaning. I was going to be meeting my brother’s long-time girlfriend for the first time ever, so I really wanted to make a good first impression. My oven isn’t self-cleaning, so I bought a product called Easy Off (I think). I usually try to avoid harsh chemicals and try to live a pretty green lifestyle, but I was desperate. I couldn’t believe how stinking easy it was.
I also completely completely cleaned out the fridge for the first time that week, too. I did it over the course of a few days. It’s amazing how gross it looked when I had part of it clean and not the rest. The things that looked “not that bad” suddenly looked like a hazmat situation!
Just found your blog and I’m loving it. This is so me, the “oh, was I supposed to clean that?” and “huh, I guess that is kind of gross, now that I look at it, huh?” thing.
Btw, we’ve lived in our house for over 8 years, and our (I think?) self-cleaning oven has NEVER been cleaned.
That said, it doesn’t get used much, either.
Athena Jeffries says
you really cant imagine what a life saver you are to all of us other slob-inistas out here in the real world. thank you soo much for this list. i also enjoy it because in that last minute scramble before my in laws get here and im freaking on my husband to help me i can just hand him this list and not have to instruct him of all the things that i want done . no negotiation, just get this done now! love it! my worst slob trait is doing the laundry when nobody had any underwear left except the ones they are wearing and then leaving all the clean laundry in baskets or in half folded piles on my couch for my family to pick through. if you have any suggestions for that id love them!!
I’ve tried many laundry methods over the years, and UNfortunately the best one is to fold it immediately out of the dryer. And putting it away. I hate doing that, but it’s true.
I love your website. For someone like me, a slob, I hate cleaning. You make it sound so easy. I like things a certain way. I guess I am kind of a perfectionist. I don’t like cleaning because I know that it will never be up to my standards I know that sounds weird. How do I change my thoughts, and my habits, so I can have a clean home. Like most people posted it happens over and over again. Just like the laundry, it is never clean. How do I just do it without thinking about it or worrying that it will never stay clean.
Dana White says
Hi kassandra, I recommend you read my e-book, 28 Days to Hope for YOur Home. http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/28-days-to-hope-for-your-home/ It will talk through a lot of that. Or go to my Get Started page for more info on how to get started.
Great post. I’ve never timed cleaning the kitchen into its various parts. I usually do what I call a ‘deep clean’ three times a year and it takes me half a day, with a few breaks here and there to get snack for the little guy and play a bit. I’d be interested to see how long it takes bit by bit. I really like the way you break it down. About the tops of the fridge and cupboards, I’ve heard that if you put wax paper down after you clean them, in the future, you can just swap out wax paper and it makes the clean up a cinch. Not that I’ve tried it. Maybe after the next ‘deep clean’. Thanks for all your great posts.
Stacy Jenkins says
This is my first time posting here. I found your blog on 7/13/17 and today is the 17th. In those four days since then, I’ve had your blog tabs marching along my web browser into infinity. I’ve listened to your first five podcasts like you were my favorite band with new music released. You have become my new addiction. I’ve loved all your tips, tricks, and ideas. Like lots of others, I find you and a lot of your readers “get” me. You and they, in just these few days, have given me more “Ah!” and “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments than any self-help cleaning/decluttering book ever has. I have found my people and you are amazing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I wrote this list down IMMEDIATELY (with places for times, even) to hang inside the door in one of my less-visible-to-company cabinets. With every job I wrote down the specifics to that space/spot so that if/when I had any help I could point to a number and have that person do that job. While writing and mentally going through my kitchen I came to a realization that you don’t have appliances listed (i.e. coffeemaker, blender, etc.). For “normal” people there’s probably a “No, duh” about where it belongs in the list. For me, I had an anxious moment where I worried, “Where on the list could it POSSIBLY be added?” I’m Bi-Polar, and sometimes it’s the seemingly stupidest things that throw me off and keep me from doing something.
I thought that maybe you had other readers out there who could potentially be thrown off by this issue, also. I ended up adding those specific appliances with their own times in “Wiping down the garbage can”. I listed it as “Wiping down surfaces of:”. I hope this can help others that can’t calm down the thousands-of-things-constantly-going-through-my-mind ed-ness that I have.