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How to clean every part of your surprisingly gross kitchen

It's time to scrub it off, wipe it down, or throw it out.

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More than any other room (even the bathroom, as it turns out), your kitchen is especially vulnerable to the infestation of dust, germs, mold, and other forms of filth. More importantly, many kitchen appliances are notoriously difficult to clean.

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For instance, how do you get all that gunk out the bottom of a blender? And what about microwaves, or the space beneath your sink? To help out, we’ve put together a comprehensive resource for spring cleaning.

Of course, cleaning isn't much fun and you may be of a mind to just replace the filthy thing altogether. So we've included recommendations on many of our top-rated products. Clean or buy a new one? You decide.

Coffee Brewers

Coffee brewers are tough because there are so many detachable parts and hard-to-reach spaces. Hand wash the filter tray and wipe the hotplate surface clean. As for the water basin, run a vinegar-water mixture through the machine without any coffee (obviously). There are also detergents designed for running through coffee makers. It's also a good idea to fill the pot with a water-baking soda solution and let it sit overnight. That will help remove bitter tastes and odors.

Bonus tip: to clean coffee grinders, just throw in a little uncooked rice, grind it, then wipe clean.

Replacement? Our top-rated drip coffeemaker is the Technivorm Moccamaster, available at Amazon. It may be a little pricey, but it comes with a 5-year warranty and nearly all the parts are removable for easy cleaning.

Dishwashers

If you have a stainless steel machine, buy a container of stainless steel cleaner and wipe down the exterior. If you have an enamel coating, scrub the exterior with regular household cleaner.

As for the interior, the standard practice is to run an empty cycle on the most powerful setting, ideally with the sanitize option engaged. Of course, be sure to remove and clean the filter first. If you still notice some nasty odors, whip out another trusty vinegar solution and pour it into a wash cycle.

Replacement? The GE GDF610P dishwasher topped our list of best affordable dishwashers, available for under $500 at Appliances Connection.

Refrigerators

Perhaps more than any other kitchen appliance, refrigerators require some elbow grease to properly clean. Douse a sponge in a solution of water and baking soda, then scrub every surface of the interior—vegetable drawers, trays, and gaskets included. If there are any removable components, take them out and wash down the sides, too. At least one study has shown that the vegetable drawer may be the most germ-infested place in your entire home, so take extra care to clean it.

The exterior of the machine can be wiped down with a traditional cleaner, or stainless steel cleaner for stainless fridges. It’s also a good idea to clean the condenser coil on the back of the machine, as an over-accumulation of dust can strain the fridge and lower its overall efficiency. First, unplug the refrigerator, and if you can, remove the coil. Dust the coil and the area around it, then vacuum the area around it to remove any stubborn soils.

Replacement? The fastest growing category in refrigerators is French-door. Our top pick for a French-door fridge under $2,000 is the Kenmore 51763, available at Sears.

Freezers

Freezers make it hard for microbes to live, but some germs still persist. If left unchecked long enough, freezer bacteria will begin to contaminate your food. The frustrating thing is, the only way to truly remove nasty germs is to defrost the machine entirely. Unplug the machine and leave the freezer door open.

Yes, that means dirty ice is going to melt all over your kitchen floor. Soak up this water by placing towels at the base of the fridge, and be sure you run these towels through the laundry. The last thing you want is to dry your dishes with a towel covered in freezer germs.

Replacement? Our favorite upright freezer is the Frigidaire FFFH17F2QW, available at Home Depot for around $600.

Food Processors and Blenders

Some blenders say that they can be cleaned in the dishwasher, but they're still prone to cracking. It’s better to fill the blender with a mixture of hot water and just a drop or two of dishwashing soap, then run it on the most powerful setting for 15 seconds or so. A few online guides also recommend tossing in a couple pieces of roughly cut lemon, just to imbue a fresh scent. Whatever your formula, rinse it out with cold water and let it air dry.

Eventually, gunk may build up in gaskets and crannies of the pitcher. Once in a while, it's recommended that you take the whole thing apart and hand wash the component parts by hands.

Replacement? Our editors' top-rated blender is the Breville Boss Super Blender, available at Amazon.

Cutting Boards and Butcher Blocks


Cutting boards, especially ones made of wood, are notorious havens for germs. It’s a good idea to use specific boards for specific foods (i.e., vegetables on wood, meat on plastic), but if you only own one board, you should hand-wash it as you would any other dish ware. Also be sure to disinfect the board with a solution of water and bleach (about 10 percent bleach), or just a general disinfectant if you don't like to work with bleach. Store cutting boards on their side to limit water accumulation and expose the sides to air.

Replacement? At least one of our editors—also a cooking fanatic—swears by the Epicurean cutting boards (available at Amazon starting around $11). The major benefits: they're dishwasher safe, tough, and cheap enough to replace without a second thought.

Microwaves

First, unplug the machine, then remove the turntable and wash it with a simple detergent or household cleaner. As for the interior, rinse and scrub each side with a damp towel doused with hot water. Be sure to wipe away any stains. If there is a persistent odor, leave a bowl of lemon juice or baking soda in the machine overnight. The exterior can be cleaned with a regular detergent.

Replacement? As far as our research has shown so far, most of the sub-$200 microwaves are all actually made by the same one or two factories and are effectively identical. Buy the cheapest one you can find. Once you get into over-the-range microwaves or those with inverter technology, it gets more interesting.

Sinks

Apartment Therapy has an extremely rigorous and thorough guide to effectively cleaning and disinfecting your kitchen sink. But unless the sink in question is some kind of biohazard, a simple scrub down with a disinfectant detergent should do the trick. Scrub it with a regular, non-abrasive sponge, and use a toothbrush for tight areas. If your sink is stainless steel, be sure to use a stainless-steel cleanser and scrub in the direction of the finish. Finally, don’t forget to scrub the faucet and handles as well. Rinse out the soap, dry the basin, and then polish it all with a dry cloth.

Replacement? There are as many kinds of sinks as there are styles of kitchen. Our advice is to know exactly what style and size you want before you start shopping in order to limit your pool of candidates. And remember that faucets usually cost extra.

Ovens/Stoves

Oven cleaning can be tricky, depending on what kind of oven you own. Self-cleaning ovens are the easiest (and smelliest). But if you do engage the cleaning cycle, remember to ventilate your kitchen. After the cycle completes, use a damp cloth to wipe off the residue that accumulates.

For ovens without self-cleaning cycles, use a damp, hot towel to wipe up spills and soils that build up on the rack and at the bottom of the machine. To loosen grease and tough stains, Consumer Reports recommends placing half a cup of cloudy ammonia “in a warm oven,” then turning off the heat and closing the door. Several hours later, wipe out the interior with hot water and detergent.

Stovetops are just a matter of being thorough. If you have a gas stove, remove the heat plates and scrub the surface around the ignition element. You should also detach dials and run them through the dishwasher. The surface itself should be scrubbed down with a detergent or vinegar solution. The small, difficult-to-reach places around the heating coils or plates may need to be scrubbed with a toothbrush.

Replacement? If you think picking a new sink is complicated, you'd better prep yourself for oven shopping. We've got a whole team dedicated to it. Check out all our oven reviews.

Tea Kettles

The exterior of virtually any tea kettle can be cleaned with detergent and hot water. As for the interior, Consumer Reports recommends filling the kettle with a mixture of white vinegar and water, then bringing the solution to a boil and allowing it to sit overnight. Keep in mind, however, that boiled vinegar is not the most pleasant of smells.

Replacement? Our top editors' pick for tea kettles is the Cuisinart CPK-17, available at Amazon.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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