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The 5 Dirtiest Things in Your Kitchen—and How to Clean Each of Them Properly

Tehrene Firman

Tehrene FirmanMay 14, 2020

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You may think your kitchen is pretty clean. But there’s a good chance the room where you prepare you food is a lot grimier than you think. The dirtiest things in your kitchen are—no surprise—the spots that easily get overlooked in your routine cleaning.

“Kitchens get dirty because they’re often the busiest spots in our homes,” says Georgia Dixon, a grove guide at Grove Collaborative. “Meal prep that leaves lingering crumbs and bits of food attract bacteria, mold, and pests, so giving this area a little love and attention regularly is well worth the extra time spent.”

While sanitizing your countertops is always a good idea, there are some other places you should focus your attention on, too.

The dirtiest things in your kitchen you forget to clean

1. Stovetop

If you tend to avoid cleaning your stove, you’re about to get a real eye-opener. “This spot takes first place for our grimiest spot in the kitchen. Because food is prepared on the stovetop, we can leave behind everything from grease splatters and splashed liquid from over-boiling to crumbs,” says Angela Bell, also a grove guide at Grove Collaborative. “Grease remains sticky and collects anything from dust to pet hair, so regular cleaning of this area is key.”

How to clean it: Bell says to properly clean the stovetop, you’ll want to use a degreasing agent. And make sure you’re getting in all the nooks and crannies. “Remove burners if you have a gas stove, and focus on removing crumbs and caked-on food. Be sure to wipe down the back portion of the stove as well. Temperature and timer buttons also get greasy and are touched frequently,” she says.

2. Sink

On any list of the dirtiest things in your kitchen, your sink is going to be one of the top offenders. “This spot gets dirty because we’re constantly using it to wash dishes and our hands,” Dixon says. “After we’re done doing the dishes, it’s easy to forget to wash out the sink. Dirty drains can be a breeding ground for pests like fruit flies, and faucets can be a hotspot for bacteria or viruses.”

How to clean it: To clean a stainless steel sink, Dixon recommends using an abrasive cleanser. “One of our favorites is the versatile and timeless Bon Ami Cleanser,” she says. “Be sure to pay attention to those sink handles and faucets, as bacteria and mold is likely to collect there. Clean any garbage disposal regularly as well. You can use a baking soda and vinegar solution or a disposal-specific product to keep drains clear.” Bar Keepers Friend ($8) is another powdered cleanser that powers through the grimiest grime in your sink.

3. Oven/Microwave

You use the oven or microwave every day to cook or reheat your foot. Because of that, it can be a little gross. “This spot gets grimy over time thanks to reheating splatter, baked goods bubbling over, and crumbs that can burn or gather,” says Bell.

How to clean it: Cleaning the oven isn’t a quick job. “It requires a time-lapsed cleaning solution that works away at cooked-on food matter. Save this task for overnight,” she says. “Spread an oven cleaner over the entire interior and let it sit for 10 to 12 hours. The cleaner will break down caked-on food and grime, making it easy to wipe away.”

As for the microwave, she says it should be cleaned more frequently to avoid build-up. “Use a sponge with hot, soapy water to wipe out the interior, and be sure to wash down the microwave plate and let it dry completely before reassembling. Leave the microwave door open ajar to let odors air out.”

4. Refigerator

How often do you actually take everything out of your fridge and clean it? Pretty rarely, I’d guess. “The fridge can get messy, and there are certain spots that are usually the messiest,” says Dixon. “Produce drawers and condiment shelves are often ignored areas that can harbor mold, and mold can travel quickly to other parts of the fridge and spoil otherwise edible food.”

How to clean it: Any fridge spills should be wiped down immediately. Then, Dixon recommends doing a monthly refrigerator deep-clean. “Remove any drawers and shelves you’re able to, and scrub them down with dish soap. Mild dish soap or Castile soap is a great solution for cleaning the inside of the fridge, using a scouring pad for any caked-on residue,” she says. “Get rid of any long-expired condiments or spoiled food, and plan a meal with items reaching the end of their life span. Though this task may seem overwhelming, doing it regularly makes it much less time consuming.”

5. Floor

There are many different reasons why your kitchen floors should be scrubbed every week. “The floor is one of the dirtiest things in your kitchen because it’s particularly susceptible to getting sticky and grimy in a short period of time, whether that’s from spatters during cooking, accidental kid spills, or crumb accumulation,” says Bell.

How to clean it: You don’t need anything fancy to keep your kitchen spick and span—just a broom and a mop. “Keep crumbs under control with a sweep of the kitchen floor. Doing this daily or every other day can save you from having a gritty kitchen space,” says Bell. “Spot cleaning spills right after they happen helps prevent sticky spots from building up, but regular mopping will keep the kitchen smelling, feeling and looking fresh. Pay special attention to the floor under your trash and recycling area, since this can be a place pests might congregate.”

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