A Cleaning Pro’s Foolproof Plan for Cleaning Your Kitchen When You Only Have 30 Minutes

published Jan 13, 2023
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Apartment Therapy’s January Cure is a free 20-day program that’ll help you reset your home for the year ahead. Sign up here and get all assignments delivered to your inbox. Joining us today is guest cure-ator Brandon Pleshek. As a third-generation janitor, cleaning is in his blood. He has a true passion and love for teaching others how to clean things up.

The kitchen is one of the most important, and difficult, areas to clean in your home — mainly because you use it so often

Luckily, our guest cure-ator today is Brandon Pleshek, a third-generation janitor who runs a very popular cleaning account called “Clean That Up.” With a passion for teaching others how to clean, Pleshek shared his tricks of the trade with us on giving the kitchen a nice dedicated clean today.

Day 10: Clean the kitchen and treat yourself

First, make sure to treat yourself to something special today or this weekend with something like flowers or some sweets from your local bakery or farmers market. (We do this every Friday of the Cure!) Then, you can work on the task today or throughout the weekend.

Set aside at least 30 minutes to give your kitchen a nice reset. As a professional cleaner, Pleshek is all about efficiency. The best approach is a top to bottom, inside-outside clean. He says you’ll need a bucket of warm water and Dawn dish soap, as well as a damp microfiber cloth and dry microfiber cloth. Pleshek also uses the Dawn Powerwash for heavier messes (like on the cooktop). 

But before you can begin, Pleshek recommends that you let some cleaners do the work for you, specifically with your microwave, cooktop, and oven. “A lot of times when it comes to cleaning stuff in the kitchen, the biggest time suck can be scrubbing and scrubbing on things because you are trying to break down the grease and grime,” says Pleshek. 

Make a one-to-one solution of vinegar and water in a microwave-safe bowl — add a touch of citrus if you have it — and microwave it for three to five minutes. While that’s going, spray a degreaser on top of your cooktop, then let it sit. For the oven, use a degreaser or even an oven cleaner, however, Pleshek cautions that you use it with care. Be sure to read any instructions for cleaning products you’ll be using to see the recommended dwell time and make sure your space is well-ventilated. (If you have a self-cleaning oven, you can skip this.) Also, if you have a dishwasher, take out the filter and let it sit in a bucket of warm water, vinegar, and dish soap.

Now, let’s get started. Feel free to use this as your checklist and alter it to fit what needs to get done in your space. And, if you feel like 30 minutes is not enough time to do a complete kitchen reset, consider spacing it out over the weekend or doing only what you can in that time block.

  • Wipe inside the top cabinets, then out. Don’t forget the handles and any high-touch zones.
  • Clean the hood vent and cabinet above it. Along with Dawn dish soap and warm water, Pleshek likes to use a non-scratch scrub sponge, like Scrub Daddy, to get off the grease without damaging the wood. Remember to wipe dry with a towel.
  • Move on to the fridge. Firstly, clear out any food that’s gone bad and random pieces that have gotten stuck to the insides. Then clean from top to bottom. And moving forward, think about cleaning the fridge before you go to the grocery store. Not only will it reset it, but it will also give you insight into what you need to cook soon, what can be tossed, or what doesn’t need to be purchased.
  • Wipe the insides of the bottom cabinets and drawers, then out. For drawers, make sure to get in there with a small vacuum (here’s an editor’s favorite) first to get out crumbs. 
  • Clean your surfaces, like the counters, cooktop, and outside appliances. For counters, you can use a general-purpose cleaner, but if you use something else, be sure it’s safe to use on the type of countertop you have. Then buff it dry. For the cooktop, you’ll be cleaning in layers. First, wipe it clean from the degreaser that’s been sitting, then go in with a plastic razor blade scraper, if you have one, to remove any gunk. Then, go in quickly with the degreaser, wipe, and dry. For appliances, depending on the material, a glass cleaner can give them a final shine. 
  • Then attend to the microwave and oven. The cleaners will have done their work and cleanup should be a breeze. (If you have a dishwasher, return the cleaned dishwasher filter.) 
  • Don’t forget your trash cans. Be sure to clean not just around and outside of the trash can, but the inside too. Spray it down with a disinfectant and let it sit (check the label first) before wiping it away.
  • Finish with the floors and the sink. Vacuum/sweep the floors. The sink is the absolute last thing you’ll want to clean because you’ll have to dump out your bucket, wash your towels, and wring out your sponges. For a stainless steel sink, Pleshek loves Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser paired with a Scrub Daddy. 

PLESHEK’S PRO TIP: If you have the time, consider tackling these often forgotten areas: behind the fridge and the forbidden trench by your countertop and oven. You can use something as simple as a butter knife and wet paper towel, says Pleshek, to get into that crack. Pleshek also shares that the one move he often sees people forgetting to do as they clean is to dry after wiping. They’ll wipe their cabinets and let the water sit, which can eventually damage the material.

Editor’s Note: We want to emphasize that the Cure program is all about getting things done at your own pace. While you likely won’t be able to deep clean your kitchen in 30 minutes, we hope you’ll feel accomplished in any progress you made today (or over the weekend).

More ways to participate in the January Cure:

The Cure Program is a tradition here at Apartment Therapy — it happens every January, April, and September. Click here to learn more about the year-round program and when to sign up.