33 Places Everyone Forgets to Clean in the Kitchen

published Jun 20, 2023
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A clean, natural-lit white kitchen with wood countertops
Credit: Lana Kenney

Some of the germiest, grimiest spots in homes can be found in the kitchen — and they’re often forgotten about when cleaning. (Or maybe you’re subconsciously avoiding them altogether.) But the fact remains: These areas, from the often-neglected top of the fridge to the control panel of the microwave, need some attention, too. Here are 33 overlooked areas and hidden hotspots in your kitchen you should clean now — and regularly.

1. Range Hood and Filters

The range hood above your stove accumulates grease, dust, and food that’s not only gross, but also potentially a fire hazard. Clean the exterior and interior surfaces of the hood, as well as the filters, which may need to be replaced.

2. Stovetop Crevices

Ever stopped to look at all the small nooks and crannies around your stovetop? These crevices shouldn’t be ignored. So while you’re wiping off your stovetop and countertops after cooking, you might want to include these areas and consider putting in a crumb catcher, too.

3. Microwave

While the microwave is frequently used, its interior and exterior surfaces can be overlooked during regular cleaning. Remove any food splatters or spills from the inside and wipe down the exterior to keep it clean and hygienic. Don’t forget the control panel, either!

4. Cutting Boards

Wooden and plastic cutting boards can harbor bacteria and odors if they’re not properly and regularly cleaned. Wash cutting boards with hot, soapy water after each use and stick to this guide to find out how to clean different types of boards.

5. Sinks and Sink Drains

Despite constant use, your sink is a lot dirtier than you may think. Lift the drain in your sink and you might be alarmed by the gunk that’s trapped in there. Clean your sink naturally by scrubbing it with baking soda, rinsing, and then lining it with a paper towel soaked in vinegar for 20 minutes. Remove and rinse it with soapy water.

6. Garbage Disposal

Along with your sink and sink drain, don’t forget the garbage disposal. Its gasket is easily removable and can be cleaned by soaking it in vinegar and hot water and then scrubbing it with a small brush.

7. Cabinet Tops and High Surfaces

Over time, dust and grease can accumulate on the tops of your cabinets and other high, hard-to-reach surfaces, like the top of your fridge. Use a step ladder or stool to reach these areas and wipe them down regularly.

8. Cabinet Shelves

Every few months you should wipe down your cabinet shelves — especially ones that hold “messy” goods like all-purpose flour, sugar, and open bottles of oils and sauces. 

9. Cabinet Handles and Doors (and Underneath Them)

When was the last time you cleaned your cabinet doors, handles, and moldings? Not to mention underneath your cabinets, too. All you need is baking soda and water — and a squeeze of lemon for a fresh smell — to get your cabinets looking (and smelling) clean

10. Under and Around the Oven

The areas under and around your oven can get just as filthy as the inside of it. If your oven has a removable bottom drawer, empty it and wipe it down. You can also use your vacuum to remove any dirt, crumbs, and dust that can accumulate there.

11. The Fridge Seal

Your refrigerator’s gasket helps create an airtight seal that keeps everything inside cool. This seal can trap a lot of food particles and spills, too. Clean it by using warm, soapy water or a mixture of warm water and baking soda. Use a microfiber cloth or old toothbrush to remove residue in the gaskets.

12. Under the Crisper Drawers in the Fridge

If you have crisper drawers at the bottom of your fridge, you should pull them out and clean what’s underneath them. This area catches a lot of crumbs and spills from above. Remove the drawers — these can be washed with warm, soapy water, too — and wipe down the area with a wet cloth. Use a cleaning solution to remove hardened spills and stuck-on food.

13. Under and Around the Fridge

Like with your stove, your fridge attracts dirt, dust, and grime. While you may be wiping down the doors and handles — and even cleaning the interior — you’re probably not cleaning what’s underneath.

14. Refrigerator Coils

The coils at the back or underneath your refrigerator can accumulate dust and debris, reducing its efficiency. Regularly vacuum or use a brush to clean these coils to keep your refrigerator running smoothly.

15. Water Filtration Pitcher or Water Dispenser

Whether you have one built into your fridge or a Brita-type pitcher, water dispensers can get dirty, too. Use a half-and-half mixture of white vinegar and water to clean your in-fridge water dispenser and soak your water pitchers and carafes. 

16. Small Appliances

The small appliances you use the most are often the ones you forget to clean. See below for any that you may own that need some cleaning.

  • Toaster and/or toaster ovens: Crumbs can accumulate in the bottom of the toaster and create a fire hazard. Unplug the appliance and clean the toaster or toaster oven inside and out. 
  • Coffee makers: Hard-water buildup can alter the taste of your coffee. Coffee makers are pretty simple to clean with white distilled vinegar; single-cup brewers, like a Keurig, have more parts to clean and descale. 
  • Blenders: If you’re someone who makes smoothies every morning, you might want to make sure those blades are cleaned thoroughly. Fill your blender with warm, soapy water, let it run for 10 seconds, then rinse it out for a thorough clean.
  • Electric kettles: These can quickly accumulate limescale, which is simple to clean. Combine a cup of white distilled vinegar and a cup of water in the kettle, bring it to a boil, and let it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing. Then fill up the kettle with clean water, bring it to a boil, and rinse again. That’s it.
  • Rice cooker: Many cookers have an inner lid, steam cap, and gaskets that can be removed and cleaned. All you need is warm, soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge. 

17. Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans

Light fixtures and the blades of ceiling fans are often forgotten, mainly because they’re too hard to reach. But overhead fixtures can collect dust and grease. Use a soft cloth or duster — ones with extendable wands are great — to clean these surfaces and remove buildup. For ceiling fans, try the pillowcase trick.

18. Dish Drying Rack

Your dish drying rack can collect dirt and food particles (which can turn into mold!) if you don’t clean it regularly. Remove everything from it and give it a good scrub with warm, soapy water once a week. For stubborn hard water and limescale stains, try cleaning with distilled white vinegar.

19. Trash Cans 

Trash bags and liners may keep your trash in one place, but they don’t guarantee that they’ll keep your trash can clean — or smelling fresh. It’s a good idea to wipe down the outside and inside of the garbage can regularly and spray it with disinfectant. 

20. Your Silverware Drawer

Ever opened your silverware drawer and found breadcrumbs in it? You’ll be surprised how much gunk can collect here. To clean it, take everything out, including the liner and silverware. Use the hose attachment on your vacuum to suck up crumbs, then wipe down everything with warm, soapy water. 

21. Where You Keep Your Spices

Can you remember the last time you wiped down your spice jars? A quick wipe-down every time you use them is the easiest way to keep these clean. But you can also use a mixture of baking soda and water to take off any hard-to-remove grime.

22. Grout Between Your Floor Tiles

Some people get their grouted tile flooring professionally cleaned, and others don’t see the point altogether. But if you hate seeing that grimy, dirty grout in your kitchen, here’s one tested way to clean it effectively — and it costs less than $15.

23. Where the Cabinets Meet the Floor

This is the area in the kitchen where everything seems to collect: spills, crumbs, dirt, and dust. Use an all-purpose cleaner — or non-toxic combination of water and vinegar or baking soda — and wipe (or scrub) these areas thoroughly.

24. Dishwasher and Oven Handles

Like other handles and knobs in your kitchen, your dishwasher and oven handles are touched a lot — and rarely cleaned. Make sure to wipe them down at least once a week, if not daily.

25. Light Switches

Light switches are also something you touch every day but are rarely ever cleaned. Use an all-purpose cleaner or disinfectant wipe to clean these.

26. Door Handles

Just like light switches, door knobs are used daily but hardly ever wiped down. Take the time to complete this easy task now.

27. Reusable Shopping Bags

Most people don’t even think about washing their reusable bags — but you should. Use this step-by-step guide to clean your bags.

28. Backsplash

Like cabinet doors and the fronts of appliances, the backsplash needs attention, too, and is easily cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner and cloth.

29. Coffee Mugs

If you’re a coffee drinker, you probably wash your mug after every use. But over time you’ll notice the seemingly permanent coffee stains inside it. Those can be easily cleaned off with a paste made from water and baking soda.

30. Kitchen Towels

Towels used in your kitchen, whether for drying hands or wiping counters, should be changed out and laundered at least once a week to help prevent the spread of germs.

31. Kitchen Mats

Check the tag on your kitchen mat for instructions on how to best clean it weekly and after spills and messes. Many are machine-washable. Others, like anti-fatigue mats and those made of bamboo, are not. 

32. Chairs and Stools

Kitchens are often gathering places in homes; this is where everyone congregates. So take time to clean the chairs and stools that everyone sits on. Here are some tips on cleaning these surfaces, which can range from vinyl to upholstered.

33. Pet Bowls and Dishes

Pet bowls and dishes are some of the dirtiest things in your home, and often they’re set up in your kitchen. They should be washed in hot, soapy water every day.