The 23 Best Kitchen Cleaning Hacks of All Time

published May 20, 2021
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Credit: Liz Calka

Everyone loves a good cleaning hack. It’s worth exploring anything that might make your cleaning efforts more effective or help you finish chores for less money, time, and effort. But when it comes to the kitchen, cleaning hacks can mean the difference between a disorderly kitchen and one that’s mostly clean most of the time. In other words, you can use all the kitchen cleaning hacks you can get your hands on.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best kitchen cleaning hacks out there, to keep in your kitchen upkeep arsenal:

1. Make your messes smaller.

So much of what makes cleaning easier is in the mind. By purposefully starting your kitchen cleanup routine at the “outer edges” of the mess and making that circumference progressively smaller, you are giving yourself visible wins the whole time you’re cleaning up and keeping momentum going from start to finish. You can read more about my detailed version of this method in Use the “Outside-In” Trick to Quickly Clean All Your Biggest Messes, From Now Until Forever.

2. Clean under your stove without moving it.

You know you need to clean under your appliances, but the thought of moving them and cleaning them and putting them back seems like such hard work that you might tend to put it off indefinitely. But you can clean under your oven without moving it by simply removing the bottom drawer of your unit.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Use a dab of oil to polish your stainless steel.

It’s fine to clean your stainless steel appliances with an all-purpose cleaner, or maybe even just a dampened microfiber cloth. But to make it shine, you’ll need to polish it. A touch of coconut oil or olive oil, buffed into the surface with a soft cloth or paper towel, is all you need to make it gleam.

4. Keep a soapy bowl by the sink while you’re cooking.

This trick makes cleanup after cooking so much easier! Fill a large-ish bowl with warm water and a few squirts of dish soap. As you’re cooking, put used tools like a whisk or measuring spoons into the bowl. This way, food won’t dry on the items and when you’re ready to devote your attention to cleaning up, you won’t have to do any extra scrubbing.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. A bag of vinegar water will improve faucet flow.

This old standby shower head cleaning method is also perfect for your kitchen faucet, which can get just as gunked up. In fact, because the head is smaller than your shower head, the difference in water flow when you get your kitchen faucet clean might be even more noticeable. Simply put some white vinegar in a bag, attach it to your faucet, let it soak, and then end with a gentle scrubbing.

6. Establish a kitchen shutdown routine.

I’m a big stickler for this one in my own house. Having certain non-negotiable tasks finished in the kitchen every night keeps your kitchen perpetually clean enough between deeper cleanings and helps you start your mornings off on the right foot. If you don’t have a shutdown routine, spending a bit of time to make one and practicing it goes a long way toward maintaining kitchen cleanliness.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

7. Use a dishwasher pod to clean baking sheets.

Take it from me: When you don’t make it a point to keep your baking sheets thoroughly clean from the get-go, they’ll eventually develop a patina that’s impossible to completely remove. One easy way to consistently clean your baking sheets all the way is by using the combined power of a dishwasher tab and boiling water.

Credit: Kitchn

8. A dishwasher pod is the perfect “soapy scraper” for greasy oven doors.

Oven doors present a special cleaning challenge. Splattered, cooked-on grease is nothing if not an ugly pain to clean. But cleaning the door, especially the glass, makes your whole oven look so much cleaner, at least from the outside! Using a dishwasher pod to scrape the grease splatters is one straightforward, resourceful, mess-free way to address the mess. You’ll need the hard kind of pod, not gel pods, for this hack.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

9. Make your blender unit clear again with a baking soda paste.

This is one of those hacks that brings something you gave up on back to life. If you have a cloudy blender pitcher, you probably cringe a little every time you use it. Even though you know it’s clean, it doesn’t look it. A quick “spa day” with a baking soda paste followed by a white vinegar wash will get your blender see-through and snazzy looking again.

10. De-stain coffee mugs with Bar Keeper’s Friend.

Stained mugs are another thing that don’t look quite clean even when they are. A little scrub with Bar Keeper’s Friend will lift coffee stains from your mugs.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

11. Steam clean your dirty microwave .

If you’ve got a microwave mess to contend with, let the power of steam loosen it first. Place some vinegar in a bowl along with some sliced lemon if you have any handy, and set the timer for a couple minutes. Don’t open it right away when it beeps; let the steam sit in the unit. Then wipe with a sponge and most of the mess should slide right off.

12. Use the SOSD method for decision-free kitchen cleanup.

This is another way to get you into the cleaning groove without thinking or ramping yourself up. The SOSD method involves a particular order of operations — surfaces, oven, sweep, dishes — that helps keep your kitchen clean and in order each time it gets used.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

13. Use OxiClean to clean sticky residue off of jars.

A quick OxiClean soak will help you peel labels off your jars cleanly — and make your upcycled jars pretty enough to put on display. I like to wait until I have a few jars that need their labels removed. When I’ve got a small collection going, I fill half my sink with hot water and a scoop of OxiClean. I fill the jars with water so they stay submerged, soak them for a while, and delight in the labels floating to the surface of the water. Any remaining residue is easily cleaned off the jars.

14. Dawn Powerwash is “soaking” in a spray bottle.

Sometimes you don’t have the time or the space to soak the pots and pans you cooked with. But waiting until you can get to them means you’ll spend extra time dealing with dried-out on top of cooked-on messes. When you can’t soak, grab Dawn Powerwash and spray its magical foam on your cookware messes. It’ll make clean up, when you get to it, a breeze.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

15. Cut the corner from your used sponges.

Sponges are great for cleaning because they pick up moisture and also hold on to it if we need it for moistening your surface or your powder cleaner. Plus the scrubby side offers a little more oomph than a rag. Once your sponges have retired from clean-dish duty, you can still use them to clean less-sanitary surfaces in your home. To distinguish the dish-washing sponge from the one you use to clean, cut off the corners of your for-cleaning-only sponges.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

16. Keep trash liners in place with with a hook.

A big but often overlooked part of keeping your spaces clean is preventing messes as much as you can. One of the worst messes in the kitchen happens in the bottom and the cracks and crevices of your trash can. Making sure your garbage bags stay in place goes a long way in keeping garbage can messes from happening and a well-placed Command hook can help.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

17. Freshen garbage disposals with lemons or ice.

If you notice something stinky emanating from your in-sink garbage disposal, it could be because you have some food bits stuck to the blades. You can dislodge the food by tossing ice cubes in for a run through the disposal. And mask odors further by adding some lemon peels.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

18. Use a paintbrush to remove crumbs from small appliances or the oven.

Crumbs left in the bottom of toaster ovens or the oven aren’t merely unsightly; they can be a fire hazard. To get them out easily, keep a paintbrush handy and brush them out into your hand or a bowl.

19. Set a timer.

There’s nothing like a ticking timer to get your hands and feet moving fast when it comes to chores. Whether you have a giant post-party mess to tackle or simply need some extra pep in your step to do your routine cleanup after dinner, setting a timer helps get you in the groove. Trying to finish before the timer rings keeps you from procrastinating and keeps you focused on finishing as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

20. Polish your stainless steel sink with flour.

I know it sounds strange, but flour will get your stainless steel sink gleaming like never before. After cleaning the sink, sprinkle flour into the basin and buff it into the stainless steel in circles. Wipe out the extra flour (don’t let it go down the drain or it could clog your pipes).

Credit: Joe Lingeman

21. Use a mesh laundry bag in your dishwasher.

If you have numerous small top-rack-only items that you like to wash in the dishwasher, put them in a mesh laundry bag to contain them. This way you know they’ll stay on the top and won’t be damaged by too much heat. You also won’t have to fish around for anything that flies off the top rack during dishwashing cycles.

Credit: Cat Meschia

22. Simmer off baked-on messes with a baking soda bath for enameled cookware.

Burned messes in enameled cookware are extra hard to clean for all the normal reasons plus the fact that the pots are so heavy and awkward to maneuver. Instead of trying to scrub and rinse and scrub again, simmer the mess off by boiling water and baking soda.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

23. Line the tops of cupboards and the fridge with paper.

Cleaning the tops of your cabinets or the fridge is no fun. The spaces are difficult to reach and there is no visible reward once you climb down from your perch. Rather than having to face this thankless task again in a few months, line these dust-collecting spaces with paper, like newsprint, parchment paper or wax paper. When things get dirty, simply remove the paper and add some more.