The busiest room in the house, the kitchen, can also be the germiest, with bacteria on cutting boards and sponges, and who knows what on the floor under the fridge.

Here are some essential cleaning tips compiled from experts, authors of books on cleaning and Consumer Reports.

Gunk removal

Grease: Use dish soap or add eight parts water to one part ammonia to cut through grease.

Mildew: Clean with a bacteria-killing bleach solution (never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser).

Bakeware build-up: Soak the item in water to loosen the build-up, then use a plastic-edged scraper to remove what’s left.

Appliances and devices

Coffee maker: Wash the carafe and brew basket, then rinse and dry. Run water and white vinegar through the machine, then plain water. Or use a coffee machine cleaning solution. Keurig sells a special descaling solution.


Dishwasher: Use a dishwasher cleaner, such as Affresh. Remove and rinse the filter to prevent food from collecting and producing odors.

Garbage disposal: Run cold water and the garbage disposal until all waste has been ground and flushed away. Grind ice cubes to break up grease deposits. Shake in baking soda, which is mildly abrasive and counteracts smelly acids poured down the drain.

Microwave oven: Wipe the walls and floor of the oven with a hot, damp cloth. Wash the removable turntable in hot water and dishwashing liquid. If there are odors, microwave a bowl of water with a quarter-cup of lemon juice for one minute. Take out the bowl and wipe down the condensation on the walls of the machine. Use warm, soapy water to wash grease out of the filter in over-the-range microwaves.

Oven and stovetop: Remove cast-iron grates and burner covers on a gas cooktop and wipe up spills with hot, soapy water (steel wool and abrasive cleaners can leave scratches). If the flame isn’t even, clean out the burner slots with a toothbrush. Clean range controls in the sink with hot, soapy water.

Opt out of the self-cleaning cycle, which takes hours and leaves a burn smell. Instead, wipe down the oven with hot, soapy water and a plastic scrub pad. Clean the oven door with a sponge or damp cloth. For the outside, apply stainless steel cleaner with a soft cloth in the direction of the metal’s grain. For black or white finishes, use soapy water and a sponge.

Refrigerator and freezer: Wipe with a damp sponge dipped in a solution of water and a little baking soda, then dry with a cloth. Wash removable shelves in hot water and liquid detergent. An open container of baking soda absorbs odors.


Trash bin: Remove the liner and wipe the pail out with mild detergent and water.


Cabinets: Use a handheld vacuum to remove dust inside cabinets. Remove dirt and grease inside and out with a mild solution of dishwashing liquid mixed with warm water. Wipe down fronts with a clean, damp cloth and dry with another clean, soft, lint-free cloth or a microfiber cloth to avoid scratching laminate and high-gloss cabinetry.

Counters: Use a soft cotton cloth with water and a mild, non-chemical liquid detergent to wipe down laminate counters. Don’t let water penetrate the seams, which can cause the substrate to swell. Don’t use cleaners containing acid, alkali or sodium hypochlorite that will mar, etch, corrode or permanently discolor the laminate surface.

Cutting boards: Clean after every use. Nonporous chopping boards made of plastic, marble or glass are easier to clean with hot, soapy water than wood, and are especially good for preparing raw meat. Wood cutting boards should be thoroughly scrubbed with a scrub brush and dishwashing liquid in hot water, followed by a hot water rinse and air dry.

Floor: Microfiber mops are the most effective tool for removing dirt and bacteria on floors.

Windows: Dilute ammonia-based window cleaners and wipe with streak-free microfiber cloths.

Cleaning supplies

Use a disinfectant wipe on soap dispenser pumps. Wash cleaning rags, shake out dusters and brooms, and microwave the kitchen sponge for two minutes daily, replacing it every two weeks.