It’s winter, so we are spending more time in the house, and that’s not always by choice. Why not use this time away from warmth and sunshine to tackle those greasy messes in the kitchen that can get looked over when the weather is better? Let Old Man Winter provide the inside time needed to take care of household upkeep with these kitchen hacks.
Baking soda is one of nature’s most versatile and effective cleaners and deodorizers; use on counters as a safer alternative to Ajax. Clean cookie sheets with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and Brillo pads. Use a generous amount of baking soda and sprinkle on just enough peroxide to wet. Scrub with pads till clean.
Vinegar is a fantastic all-natural cleaning agent to use around the kitchen without resorting to harsh, synthetic products. Sprinkle around your stainless- steel sinks and scrub with a vinegar dampened sponge. This method is an excellent way to clean drains too.
Stove grates are the hardest things to clean in the kitchen. Ammonia is your best friend here. Do be careful and read all the cautions on the label. Ammonia is tough stuff. Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated, as the fumes are the worst, and be sure to use rubber gloves. First, place each grate in its own heavy-duty Ziploc bag. Then carefully add ¼ cup ammonia and seal. Lay flat on a newspaper-covered counter overnight. A ¼ cup of ammonia is enough, as the fumes are doing the heavy lifting here. Drain the ammonia and wash the stove grates in warm soapy water.
Dirty, greasy cabinets? Mix 2 tablespoons dish detergent and 1 cup vinegar in 2 cups warm water. Use a safe scrub sponge and rinse frequently. For tough spots, add a little baking soda. Need more power cleaning power? Add ½ cup borax to the mixture. When done, polish the wood with a bit of orange or lemon oil.
Microwave ovens are often overlooked until they become positively grime encrusted. Turn the microwave on for a few minutes so the heat can loosen the gunk. Then boil a lemon cut in quarters in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave for around three minutes. Let sit for five minutes, then remove the container and wipe clean. Use a little baking soda on a damp scrubber sponge for any stuck-on bits left.
For cutting boards, use lemon and salt to clean and disinfect. Sprinkle with salt and scrub with the cut side of a lemon. Then simply rinse and air dry. Now it’s all clean and deodorized!
Use these kitchen hacks while winter has you stuck inside to avoid an enormous cleaning job to tackle once the weather is warm.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO