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Household Hints & HELP!

Kitchen Cleaning

submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appears in the December 27, 2004 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

This time of year the kitchen gets a lot of use making holiday treats and dinners and puts many kitchens in an over-whelming state. Cleaning the kitchen is many times a task no one wants. The toughest kitchen soil are grease and food. A few tips to make kitchen cleaning easier are:

  • To clean small areas (countertops), sprays, gels or cleaning wipes are easy to use. To clean larger areas (floors or walls), powders or liquids mixed in a pail of water are more efficient. The new wet mops are a helpful time saver.

  • To prevent streak marks when cleaning large vertical areas, start at the bottom and work up, overlapping areas as you clean and using a circular motion.

  • Abrasive cleaners provide extra cleaning power for hard-to-remove soils like food particles and grease residue in sinks. Be sure the abrasive product is suitable for the surface being cleaned, otherwise it may scratch the finish. In general, liquid and gel cleaners are less abrasive than powders.

  • Use non-abrasive cleaners on surfaces easily scratched.

  • Use a cutting board for preparing meats and poultry, then immediately clean and disinfect the cutting board to prevent spreading food-borne bacteria. Use a paper towel to wipe up juices from meats and poultry. If using a sponge or cloth, disinfect after using and launder it often.

  • Clean microwave spills when they happen—since they don't get "baked on," it’s a snap to wipe them up before they harden. If they harden before you get to them, put a container with water in the microwave, bring to a boil, remove water and wipe out the microwave.

  • Use a small foam paint brush to clean tight spaces between cabinets or under appliances.

  • Avoid using or spilling strong acidic or alkaline cleaning products (toilet bowl cleaners, drain openers, rust removers, oven cleaners, etc.) on kitchen countertops. They can permanently discolor the surface.


On laminate (e.g., Formica® , Wilsonart® Laminate) use a trivet or insulated pad to protect the surface from hot pans. Wipe up cleaning solutions immediately to prevent discoloration or water damage. Use non-abrasive, all-purpose cleaners. Abrasive cleaners can dull the finish. Products containing bleach may alter the color of worn or damaged surfaces. A soft vegetable brush is helpful in cleaning textured countertops.

On solid surfacing (e.g., Corian®, Avonite®) remove cuts and scratches from matte finishes by using abrasive cleaners and pads. Avoid damaging the surface by using trivets and cutting boards. For matte finish use non-abrasive or abrasive all-purpose cleaners. For satin or high-gloss finish use non-abrasive all-purpose cleaners. On wood block wipe up spills and liquids immediately.


For exteriors of the refrigerator/freezer, range, dishwasher, etc. avoid using abrasive cleaners.

On the interiors of these appliances use a non-abrasive, all-purpose cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water, also works well.


To prevent cloudy looking floors, use a no-rinse product or rinse the floor well after each cleaning. For vinyl or ceramic tile, use a non-abrasive, all-purpose cleaner or a floor care product designed to clean and/or shine these surfaces. For wood floors, use a wood cleaner. If the floor is finished with a water-based polyurethane, follow the polyurethane manufacture's care instructions.

The important thing to remember about cleaning any surface is to use the correct cleaners. Check manufacturer's instructions for recommended cleaning of their products.

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