Getting Rid of the Fugitive Filth I Was Harboring in my Kitchen

updated Jul 17, 2020
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

This weekend, in a search of a lost item, I ventured into the no-man’s land of one particular area of my kitchen and was aghast at what I found there. Even though it’s a little-seen area, that doesn’t make it any better in terms of the dust accumulation and the total ick-factor I experienced when I realized what kind of filth I had been harboring.

So where was all the grossness hiding? I’m sure you won’t be surprised to find that it was on top of my kitchen cabinets. Let’s just say that they haven’t been at the top of my cleaning list, and it showed. This may seem really obvious, but we all need reminders sometimes. So here’s your gentle reminder for the day: Clean the top of your cabinets!

And now, here are some tips for cleaning the top of your cabinets, storing things there, and maintaining your future blissfully dust-free cabinet tops.

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

Maintenance for Dust-Free Living: It might seem counter-intuitive to start with the tips for maintenance, but hey, this is my most solid advice, so why not lead with the big guns? Of course, periodic cleaning is good, and you should build it into your cleaning routine, but if you want an easier go of it when the time comes, line the tops of your cabinets with used newspapers. They won’t be visible, and when they get dusty, you can just recycle them and replace them with new ones. No scrubbing necessary.

Since the tops of the cabinets definitely fall into the “deep clean” category, here’s some advice on how to integrate forgotten spots into your usual cleaning routine:

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Cleaning: Opt for damp cleaning, since cabinet tops tend to collect grime as well as dust. Plus, given how dusty these things truly get, there will probably be lots of flying particles so having the rag be damp will help keep all those bits and pieces from getting in your nose, throat, and eyes. A basic all-in-one cleaner will do the trick. I’m a fan of Mrs. Meyer’s Basil Multi-Surface Cleaner– the amazing scent motivates me to keep spritzing. Diluted vinegar is also a great green cleaner.

I had to continually rinse my rag out, so instead of going up and down to fetch a clean rag, I kept a small bowl of water next to me on the cabinet tops. I had to clean it a few times, but it was much more convenient (and probably safer) to climb as infrequently as possible.

(Image credit: Amy Palmer )

Storage: The tops of kitchen cabinets are a great place to store things, particularly if you live in a small space, but those things will get really dusty, really fast. I suggest only keeping items up there that are easily wipeable (like picture frames, metal objects, etc.), and if you’re going to use storage bins, be sure to get ones with lids. If you go the un-lidded route, you’ll just have to dust everything inside, and all those crevices can be hard to clean.

What other spots are all-too-easy to forget when cleaning, and how do you manage them?