The holidays are right around the corner, which means the family is coming over and you have to try to be nice to those relatives, you know the ones I’m talking about. All kidding aside, this time of year is the only time my entire family gets together for good food, to carry out traditions and enjoy one another’s company. It can be hectic to prepare for the house guests, but trust me, if you tackle these kitchen tasks now you’ll have a stress-free holiday!
Task 1: Turn on Your Appliances
This one is pretty simple, if your oven isn’t working it’s not going to do you much good for the holidays. Have you not used that bottom oven in a while? Don’t know the last time you ignited that far burner on the gas cooktop? Go turn on your appliances while there is still time to make repairs or purchase replacements!
Task 2: Deep Clean Your Appliances
We’ll have to do a little more than a wipe down but I’m going to share quick and painless ways to get your appliances sparkling inside and out.
Start by pulling out the racks and wiping them with a cloth and warm soapy water. Make sure to scrub the wheels as well. Use a toothbrush if you can’t get to these hard-to-reach places.
Next, run your empty dishwasher on normal or sanitize mode using any powdered lemonade mix. The ascorbic acid in the powder removes stains and gives the inside a nice shine.
If you have a custom panel or plastic dishwasher, give the outside a wipe down with your soapy water. We’ll cover how to shine up stainless steel a little later.
You’d be surprised what’s lurking on the inside of your microwave. Luckily, cleaning the microwave is quick and easy. Fill a microwave safe container half way with water and add some lemon juice. Microwave until the water boils and let sit for a couple minutes.
The steam will loosen the built up gunk and you’ll be able to wipe it up easily. Bonus, the lemon juice will give your microwave a fresh lemon scent.
I’d bet the last time you cleaned your vent hood was…never? It’s time to stop ignoring this grease pit hanging over your head.
First, take the filters out and in a sink of warm soapy water swish them up and down one by one. Rinse with a little water pressure by using your sink’s sprayer, shake it vigorously like a polaroid picture and set aside to air dry.
While the filters are drying, remove your hood’s grease trap (if it has one) and wash it in warm soapy water. To clean the underside of the hood, use a degreaser. Spray and let the degreaser sit for a couple minutes to work its magic. Wipe away the solution with a damp sponge and re-install your dry filters.
There are many commercial grade oven cleaners which do a fine job cleaning standard ovens. Read warnings and wear proper protective equipment when using these hazardous chemicals.
For many of us, we can skip the chemicals and use our oven’s self-cleaning mode. Read the owner manual to see if there are any special directions before using self-clean mode. Note that some ovens require you to remove oven racks and others don’t.
If you threw out the manual long ago, you can probably find a copy online. If this doesn’t work, err on the side of caution and remove your racks.
Wipe up hefty stains before using self-clean to avoid staining your oven. Self-clean mode will produce immense heat and turn dirt and grime to ash. After your oven cools down use your vacuum to suck up the ash and give the inside a quick wipe down with a damp sponge.
Polishing Stainless Steel
Now that the inside of our appliances are looking great (and working better) it’s time to give your stainless steel appliances a shine.
Fill a spray bottle up with vinegar and have mineral (such as olive) oil on standby. Spray the stainless steel with vinegar and wipe away along the grain with a soft cloth. This will remove the dirt buildup. The “grain” will either run horizontally or vertically and with a close look you should be able to tell what direction the grain is pretty easily.
After you wipe down the outside with vinegar, oil up a different cloth and polish in the direction of the grain. Voila, sparkling appliances!
Task 3: Declutter Your Kitchen
Thought I was going to skip the refrigerator? Nope, I’m not letting you off that easy.
Unplug your refrigerator (take this time to vacuum behind and vacuum the refrigerator vents). Once it’s unplugged, start bottom to top or top to bottom and clear one shelf at a time.
Decide if you’re going to eat that old but not expired sauerkraut in the next 2 days. If the answer is no, toss it with the rest of your expired food. No, you’re not going to eat that ¼ full jam that hasn’t moved in a year. The idea is to only stock your refrigerator with food you actually eat and create space for holiday leftovers.
Move shelf by shelf, and don’t forget about the crisper drawers. When everything is out of the refrigerator, give the inside a good wipe down with a damp cloth.
Put back your items with convenience and organization in mind. Like items and complimentary items should be put together so they are easy to find in the future. Put the appropriate fruits in vegetables in the right drawer with the right setting. Don’t forget to plug your refrigerator back in and clean the outside surface!
Much like your refrigerator, clean off one shelf at a time throwing away expired or forgotten foods. It’s even better to donate those forgotten but not expired foods to your local food pantry.
Wipe down shelves and replace your old shelf liner with a fresh one. Then, reorganize your pantry by keeping like foods together and frequently used items in easy-to-reach places.
The last item on our to-do list is cleaning and organizing the kitchen cabinets. It’s a daunting task but just take it cabinet by cabinet and you’ll get through it in no time.
You should approach this project with three categories in mind; keep, donate, and throw away. Keep items are frequently used and may need some reorganizing. This could be shifting heavier items to lower spaces and storing the nice dishes you seldom use a little higher. For extra credit, coordinate by size and color for an aesthetically pleasing and impressive look.
The donate pile consists of unnecessary, yet still functioning items. If you haven’t used an item in the last year or have too many of one thing like those plastic cups you keep bringing home, it probably belongs in the donate pile. Now is not the time to get attached to things, just ask yourself, “do I really need this?” And be honest.
Lastly, throw away that melted spatula and the can opener that haven’t partied since 1999. You’ll be surprised what items you find in the back of your cabinets. Make sure to wipe down the inside of your cabinets and put a fresh liner down.
Whew, we’ve made it through our kitchen tasks and now you have a great looking space to proudly show off to house guests. Having a stress-free holiday starts with a little preparation now, but you’ll be glad your kitchen is in order before company arrives.
If you discover your appliances and/or cabinets need an upgrade, find a Factory Builder Stores near you to get set up with the perfect replacement!