When the next bowl of chili explodes all over the inside of the microwave or you finally give in to the inch thick layer of pizza burn off inside your oven, this page of advice for cleaning household appliances will be right here waiting for you.
Common Appliances and How to Clean Them
For some people, cleaning is as natural as walking and breathing. But for the rest of us, it takes effort and probably some knowledge that we’re currently lacking. After all, it’s not such a big deal to clean a microwave, but for some reason it feels like it takes forever. Without further ado, here’s how to clean basically everything useful in your kitchen.
- Pre-prep Work: Put a coffee mug or small bowl full of water and slices of lemon in the center and run the microwave on high for about three minutes, or until the liquid is turning to steam. This will help soften food splatter and the lemon smells nice. You can also use other citrus fruits or forego it entirely and use a drop of dish soap.
- Break It Down: Take out the turntable and anything else that will come loose. Toss these parts in the dishwasher and run it. Or wait if you have other stuff to stick in there and make it a full load.
- The Nitty Gritty: Wipe down the walls of the microwave with a sponge, cloth or several paper towels, plus your favorite dish soap and water or all purpose cleaner. There’s not really a wrong way to clean a microwave. Wipe the outside while you’re at it, especially the buttons.
- Pre-prep Work: Unless you have a clog, there’s not much in the way of prep work to do. Flick the switch, run some cold water to make sure there’s not any food left in the device.
- Break It Down: Some garbage disposals, like Insinkerators, have removable baffles (the black part that’s just inside the drain). If yours is removable, take it out. If not, then move along.
- The Nitty Gritty: Cleaning a garbage disposal is really easy. Just clean your removable baffle, if present, and toss some citrus fruit inside. Most garbage disposals no longer use blades (don’t stick your hand in to find out unless the breaker is turned off), so the ice cube trick does nothing, but citrus is still a big deal. If it’s really smelly, drop some liquid dish soap inside and run the water until the bubbles stop.
- Pre-prep Work: Running an empty load with a measuring cup full of vinegar or bleach can help start the process off right. These chemicals help eliminate chronic smells, you’ll be really happy you did. DO NOT USE DISH SOAP.
- Break It Down: Remove the racks and anything else that comes loose, like cutlery baskets. Take those to the shower and wait for further instructions.
- The Nitty Gritty: First clean any screens that might be protecting food grinders or other moving parts. You can just wipe that out. Next, there’s such a thing as dishwasher cleaner. Your life will be immeasurably easier if you just buy a few of these and use as directed to clean the inside of the dishwasher.
Last, go find those racks you put in the shower. Spray them down with a removable shower head or take your chances with the regular kind. If they’re very dirty, give them a going over with soapy water and a sponge. Go slide those bad boys back into the machine. Wipe the outside.
- Pre-prep Work: Put food into a prepared cooler and turn the ice maker off.
- Break It Down: Pull out all the shelves and drawers at once and place them in or near the sink.
- The Nitty Gritty: Start with the empty fridge cavity and wipe everything down, from the top to the bottom. Warm, soapy water is fine for most residue, tough grime can be knocked out with all-surface cleaner. Next, do the door interiors.
Now wash the shelves and drawers and leave them to dry. Once all of that is complete, put the fridge back together and repeat with the freezer. Change your water filter and turn the ice maker back on when you’re done. Wipe the fridge outside down last.
Freestanding Range (this also applies to cooktops and ovens that exist independently)
- Pre-prep Work: Smooth top ranges just need their tops wiped down. Turn the pilot lights off on gas ranges.
- Break It Down: Pull knobs, remove grates, pull coils and catch pans, as applies to your stove.
- The Nitty Gritty: If you have a stove with a self-cleaning oven, find your manual and figure out how to use it. Most will lock themselves, heat until they’re super hot and you only have to wipe the racks down and get the ash (there’s never much) out of the bottom. This will take a few hours. Maybe several hours. But it’ll be super clean.
For the top, wipe the bit that’s not removable down with soapy water. Grab the coils and set them aside and put the rest in the dishwasher. No reason to work too hard. Glass top stoves sometimes need harder cleaning. There’s a gritty glass top stove cleaner available commercially.
Put it all back together like you found it. Good work!
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