A Step-By-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Kitchen Appliances the Right Way

Getting ready to clean your stove? Try using all-purpose cleaner, a toothbrush, a sponge, a cleaning cloth and a toothpick.
Getting ready to clean your stove? Try using all-purpose cleaner, a toothbrush, a sponge, a cleaning cloth and a toothpick. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

After cleaning the bathroom, my least favorite chore is cleaning my kitchen appliances.

No matter how carefully I tidy up after myself while cooking, little bits of food still end up wedged in the crevices of my stove.

It doesn’t matter how tightly I screw lids on the jars in my refrigerator, something is always destined to leak.

It seems like my oven, cooktop and microwave get grungy in the time it takes to fry an egg.

As part of my cleaning schedule, my kitchen appliances get a good deep-cleaning about every three months. Here’s how I tackle the job.

How to Clean Refrigerators and Freezers

How to clean your Refrigerators and Freezers

What you need:

  • A cooler large enough to hold the food in your freezer. In a pinch you can also stack your frozen food in the kitchen sink and cover it with a heavy blanket to keep it insulated
  • Cleaning cloth or non-abrasive sponge
  • Toothbrush
  • Plastic spatula
  • Thick towels (for manual-defrosting freezers)
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment

How to clean the interior of your fridge:

  1. Remove everything in your fridge and put it in the cooler or sink.
  1. Detach all removeable shelves and drawers. Soak in hot, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher.
  1. Remove stuck-on food by soaking a cloth or paper towel in hot water and laying it across the food stain for about five minutes. Once the food softens, wipe it up with a cloth or paper towel or gently scrape it up with a spatula.
  1. Spray the interior with all-purpose cleaner and wipe dry with a sponge or cloth.
  1. Scrub the refrigerator door seal with a damp toothbrush and wipe dry.
  1. Replace the shelves, drawers and food.

How to clean the interior of your freezer:

  1. Remove all food and ice trays.
  1. Detach all removeable shelves and drawers. Allow them come to room temperature to avoid cracking, then soak then in hot, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher.
  1. Remove stuck-on food by soaking a cloth or paper towel in hot water and laying it across the food stain for about five minutes. Once the food softens, wipe it up with a cloth or paper towel or gently scrape it up with a spatula.
  1. For auto-defrosting freezers with no ice build-up, spray the interior with all-purpose cleaner and wipe dry with a sponge or cloth.
  1. For manual-defrosting freezers or freezers with ice build-up, line the bottom of the freezer with towels then leave the freezer door open for a few hours to allow the ice to melt. The towels will absorb the water so it doesn’t pool on your floor.
  1. Scrub the freezer door seal with a damp toothbrush and wipe dry.
  1. Replace the shelves, drawers and food.
  1. Make fresh ice.

How to clean the exterior of your refrigerator and freezer:

  1. Clear the refrigerator’s exterior surface of magnets, clips, papers, pictures, etc.
  1. Spray the exterior with all-purpose cleaner. Wipe dry beginning at the top to catch drips and streaks.
  1. A bit of furniture polish will make the exterior sparkle.
  1. Remove and clean the drip pan (see your owner’s manual for details).
  1. Unplug the refrigerator and pull it away from the wall. Vacuum the refrigerator coils.
  1. Plug the unit back in and move it back to its original spot.
  1. Replace magnets, pictures and your kid’s artwork.

How to Clean Cooktops and Stovetops

How to clean your Cooktops and Stovetops

What you need:

  • Cleaning cloth or non-abrasive sponge
  • Toothbrush
  • Sewing needle or toothpick

How to clean a glass cooktop:

  1. Make sure the cooktop is completely cool.
  1. Remove detachable dials and knobs, hand wash and dry.
  1. Follow Real Simple’s advice for removing stubborn baked-on stains before cleaning.
  1. Wipe down the surface with a cleaning product specifically designed for glass cooktops.
  1. Use a damp toothbrush to clean crevices and ridges.
  1. Spray with water to remove residue, wipe dry.

How to clean an electric stovetop:

  1. Make sure the cooktop is completely cool.
  1. Remove detachable dials and knobs, then hand wash and dry them.
  1. Separate burner coils from the stove (see your owner’s manual for details).
  1. Use a damp toothbrush to clean stuck-on food from burner coils, then dry them with a clean towel. (Do not submerge burners in water.)
  1. Remove drip pans and soak in hot, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher.
  1. Spray the cooktop with all-purpose cleaner and wipe dry.
  1. Replace the drip pans and burners.

How to clean a gas stovetop:

  1. Make sure the cooktop is completely cool.
  1. Remove detachable dials and knobs, then hand wash and dry them.
  1. Remove burner grates and drip pans. Soak them in hot, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher.
  1. Use a toothbrush dampened with water to clean burner caps.
  1. Inspect burner holes for trapped food or debris that may block gas flow. Use a sewing needle or toothpick to clear clogs.
  1. Spray the exterior with all-purpose cleaner, taking care not to extinguish the pilot light, and wipe dry.
  1. Replace drip pans and grates.

How to Clean Ovens

How to Cleaning Your Oven

What you need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • White vinegar in a spray bottle
  • Plastic spatula
  • Non-abrasive sponge or cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • 12 to 24 hours to let the cleaning solution work its magic

How to clean the interior of your oven:

  1. Remove oven racks and soak them in a bathtub filled with enough hot, soapy water to cover the racks, or run them through the dishwasher.
  1. Spread baking soda paste all over the oven’s interior.
  1. Let sit 12 to 24 hours, then wipe the interior with a damp cloth or sponge dipped in water.
  1. Use the spatula or paint stirrer to scrape up any remaining dried-on food.
  1. Continue wiping the interior with a wet cloth or sponge until no trace of baking soda remains.
  1. Scrub the oven door seal with a damp toothbrush and wipe dry.
  1. Replace the oven racks.

How to clean the exterior of your oven:

  1. Spray with all-purpose cleaner and wipe dry

How To Clean Dishwashers

How to clean your Dishwasher

What you need

  • One cup of white vinegar
  • One cup of baking soda
  • Dishwasher-safe bowl
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Cleaning cloth or non-abrasive sponge

Interior  

  1. Remove all dishes from the dishwasher.
  1. Check to make sure the drain on the floor of the dishwasher is clear of food and debris.
  1. Pour vinegar into the bowl and place it on the upper rack of the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher through one hot-water cycle.
  1. Sprinkle the bottom of the dishwasher with the baking soda. Run the dishwasher through another hot-water cycle.

Exterior

  1. Spray with all-purpose cleaner and wipe dry.

How To Clean Microwaves

How to clean your Microwave

What you need:

  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Cleaning cloth or non-abrasive sponge
  • Large bowl
  • One cup of water
  • One lemon, roughly chopped or 6 tablespoons of white vinegar

Interior

  1. Put water and lemon or vinegar into the bowl.
  1. Place the bowl in the microwave and run on high until the water boils (one to four minutes).
  1. Let the water cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then carefully remove the bowl. Grind the lemon peels in the garbage disposal to freshen it.
  1. Wipe the interior of the microwave and dry.
  1. If you have a removable turntable, wash it in hot, soapy water or run it through the dishwasher.
  1. Return the turntable to the microwave.

Exterior

  1. Spray with all-purpose cleaner and wipe dry

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She looks forward to the age of self-cleaning kitchen appliances.

All header graphics of supplies needed illustrated by Kristy Gaunt, Illustrative Designer at The Penny Hoarder.

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