9 Things in the Kitchen You Didn't Know You Were Supposed to Clean
You keep your kitchen countertops spotless, your sink free of dishes, and your refrigerator neat and tidy.
But even though you've got your kitchen cleaning routine down to a science, there's a chance you're forgetting a few areas and gadgets that are particularly susceptible to dirt and germs. (It's not like there's a cleaning manual that comes with every kitchen.)
Your kitchen needs a thorough deep cleaning every once and a while, especially if you do a lot of cooking. Next time you roll up your sleeves and break out the cleaning supplies, be sure to tackle these often-overlooked kitchen areas, too.
1. Range Hood Filters
Located above your oven, the range hood helps ventilate your kitchen and remove the odors, gases, and heat that can build up while you're cooking. Since this piece of equipment sees quite a bit of action, you can imagine just how dirty the inside gets, particularly the range hood filter.
You can easily pop your range hood filter off and clean it, either in the dishwasher or with hot, soapy water in the sink, says Laura Smith, owner of All Star Cleaning Services. You can also use an oven cleaning solution.
"Just be careful not to scrub it at all as it can damage the filter," she says. "You want to let water and chemicals do the work, not manual agitation."
Related: How to Clean Your Range Hood
2. Refrigerator Coils
You're probably already aware that you should be disinfecting the inside of your refrigerator from time to time. But what about your fridge's other components? Smith says it's important to periodically clean your refrigerator coils, which are typically located on the bottom or back of the unit. When they get dirty, your refrigerator doesn't run as efficiently and has to work harder to keep your food cold.
"You can buy a brush at the hardware store for about just a dollar or two to brush off the soiled coils," Smith says.
Buy it: Heavy-Duty Flexible Refrigerator Coil Brush, $17; Amazon
Your dishwasher is a godsend, expertly blasting grime and food particles off your dishes on a daily basis. But this kitchen workhorse needs a little love on occasion, too.
Be sure to wipe down the inside of your dishwasher periodically, paying special attention to the black rubber gasket that helps seal the unit when you shut the door. (This spot is particularly susceptible to mold, Smith says.) Also be sure to remove and thoroughly rinse your dishwasher filter, which is typically located on the dishwasher floor, beneath the bottom dish rack.
Read More: How to Clean Your Dishwasher
4. Garbage Disposal Splash Guard
If you've ever smelled a funky odor coming from your garbage disposal, you know how dirty these things can get down there. And while cleaning the actual disposal regularly is important, don't forget to sanitize your garbage disposal splash guard, too.
What is it? It's the black rubber cover that sits at the top of the drain and prevents food from splashing out when you turn on the disposal. The underside of this splash guard can get super nasty, so remember to pop it out, throw it in the dishwasher, or scrub it vigorously with hot soapy water or cleaning solution. Voila! Fresh and clean.
Keep Reading: How to Clean a Garbage Disposal
5. Trash Cans
Even if you're religious about replacing the trash bag, there are still going to be spills, stains, and odors that build up in your kitchen trash can. Every few weeks, be sure to do a hard reset on your kitchen trash can by cleaning out the inside with all-purpose cleaner or dish soap, suggests Kathy Turley, a spokeswoman for Home Clean Heroes. If your can is extra stinky, toss in some baking soda for good measure, let it sit for five or 10 minutes, then scrub and rinse outdoors.
"You can put a few dryer sheets or even crumpled up newspaper at the bottom of the can before you put the new bag in it to help keep stinky odors at bay," she says.
6. Reusable Grocery Bags
If you actually remember to bring reusable grocery bags into the store with you, then bravo — you're helping the environment by reducing your consumption of plastic bags. But don't forget to toss these grocery bags into the washing machine every once and awhile, as they can harbor bacteria, germs, dirt, and lots of funky odors over time.
Think about it: You're probably tossing in raw meats at the store, setting the bags on the floor of the kitchen once you get home, then tossing them back into your car's trunk for your next shopping trip (and who knows what's back there!). Throw them in with your next load of laundry, and you can breathe a little easier the next time you head to the store.
7. Cabinet Handles
Your cabinet door handles (and the cabinet area around the handles) see lots of hands — some dirty, some clean — on a daily basis, which is why they can get grimy and gross. Consider dabbing your cabinet handles and knob with degreaser, then wiping it off, suggests Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, president of the deep cleaning and restoration company ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. Use a soft cloth when you clean this area, as you don't want to accidentally scratch your cabinets.
"When people cook, they tend to open multiple cabinets and drawers to pull out spices and seasonings, utensils, etc., but they don't realize that grease and food particles on their fingers lead to a build-up of dirt and grime on those areas," she says.
Think about it: Your backsplash catches all the splatter when you're washing dishes, preparing meat for the grill, or cooking with hot oil on the stove. This can lead to a pretty icky situation back there, so be sure to spend as much time disinfecting and cleaning your backsplash as you do your countertops. Wipe down the backsplash behind your stove and sink as soon as you're done cooking or doing dishes.
"Grease and juices splatter on this backsplash and, if not cleaned right away, it gets harder to scrub," says Rodriguez-Zaba.
9. Pet Food and Water Dishes
When was the last time you looked closely at your pet's food and water dishes? No, seriously. With all your pet's slobber and messy eating habits, these bowls can get funky, fast.
To help keep your dog or cat safe and healthy, it's a good idea to toss these into the dishwasher or scrub them in the sink regularly. Just be sure to thoroughly rinse any chemicals or cleaning solutions before you put the bowls back down at pet level.
Related: 8 Cleaning Hacks for Pet Owners