Kitchen Haven - keep it sparkling! Cleaning tips to make it easier

Hello Ladies!
I trust you all had a lovely new years weekend and are fresh and ready to dive into this year head-first with determination and prayerful planning! I thought it might be a nice start to the new year to pass on a few tips about keeping our kitchens clean. After all, we spend SO much time in the thing, especially during holiday seasons, which is when it can get a little out of control. So im not going to give you the "Perfect Kitchen 101" in this post, but ill sure give you some pointers and a good start to getting on track!

Right, as far as keeping it looking tidy is concerned, you probably already know its really as simple as keeping the benches and sink clean and wiped over. seriously. Even with clutter in one corner and one too many canisters lined up on the bench, if the bench is clean and free of dishes, and the sink shiny, the whole kitchen looks somewhat "done".

How do we achieve this all the time? Its really a discipline like all others, make it a habit. Some methods work better for others, heres my method. (Since i have a dishwasher its ALOT easier to impliment.)

my kitchen rules:
1. if its dirty, rinse it and pop it in the dishwasher ASAP.
2. Whenever possible whilst cooking, clean as you go instead of making piles.
3. clear and buff sink every evening (and shine when needed)

I dont let things linger on the bench from one meal to the next. Breakfast gets cleared, after breakfast. Lunch and dinner also. I almost NEVER leave dinner dishes till the morning, its depressing to get up to that kind of mess, plus it can smell in warmer weather. I think the only time ive ever left dishes till the morning is when I was very sick. Even without a dishwasher you can achieve this. I tend to have more dishes than my washer can load anyway, and I'll only load the washer once a day so anything else is handwashed in the sink.

Whilst cooking dinner i dont waste time. I dont stand around watching the potatoes boil or watching the microwave do its work. Its common sense to keep yourself moving in the kitchen while your in there. If you multi-task whilst cooking, you can certainly easily ruin dinner. For example "ooh I have that load of washing to hang out, ill just do that while this is on" and you could come back to overboiling spuds, burned sausages and whatever other disaster you can think of. But if you keep your multi-tasking to the kitchen only, you can keep a very close eye on whats cooking and do a bit of cleanup at the same time. be it sweep the kitchen floor, wipe down surfaces and benches, prepare lunches for the next day, fill the sink and start the washing up with whats already been used etc.

Finally, shining the sink. This is something i didnt bother to do too often. Perhaps once a month or fortnight at the very very most. usually when guests were coming that week, id do it then for the extra pizzaz. I always kept it hygenic, but im talking about giving it a good shine! But Its a 2 minute job that makes the world of difference and makes me smile and im sure it will you too. I have a stainless steel double sink. It can get cloudy and water spots very quickly and seeing as the house we bought is over 20 or 30 yrs old, it is an old sink. The first time i finally got it sparkling I almost lost my breath! The old plastic taps had broken and we had to buy new ones, bunnings was selling a beautiful modern set of stainless steel taps (with faucet) for $40 instead of $160... bargain! when dear hubby put the new shiny taps on, i saw how dull and horrible my old sink really was and needed to give it some tlc. And do you know how easy it was?

GUMPTION my friends. Its a mild abrasive, cream like cleaning substance (which is not toxic for you or the environment) and it comes in a little tub. We used to use it in high school on the desks when kids would grafitti with pen, texta and pencil and it always got it right off. I picked some up from the supermarket (youll be able to get it very easily) and thought, meh, ive tried everything else, why not? So i rinsed and wiped down the sink, getting any bits behind the taps etc, so it was relitavely clean (but still dull). Then with a non-scratch scourer I scooped up a little gumption and started lightly scrubbing the sink... it looks all cloudy and white when it goes on and you think its only going to make things worse. But scrub that stuff all over, in every nook and cranny. Then with a soft sponge, rinse the sink thoroughly with water, be sure to get all the gumption off, it wont take much. finally, use a microfiber cloth (you can also use a teatowel but it doesnt work as well) to dry the whole sink (this prevents water spots) and watch your sink SHINE like never before, it will look brand new! For some reason, the gumption seems to give the sink a little water resistance so that water spots and cloudyness stays away a little longer than usual which is a bonus. As long as you dry your sink with your cloth after using it every day, this should last up to a week before you have to do it again! Though I love the results so much i shine my sink every 3 days now. It seems to make the kitchen look...extra done. This task takes only a few minutes to do and looks so great. In between shines you only need to wipe it down with your cloth and clean dishwater, as you normally would, remembering to use a cloth to dry it with. (if you dont have any microfiber cloths, go get a packet of them from the discount store!! they are cheap and so so handy for all sorts of tasks. machine washable too.)

These are the main steps to keeping your kitchen looking and smelling clean.

Other little tips:
  • When cooking something stinky, remember to open the kitchen windows during the process and leave them open a little while after. in winter, just open them in small spurts for a minute or so here and there, to get fresh air in regularly.

  • Keep your cookbooks organised, if they are sitting in multiple places, or are in a messy pile visible when you look into your kitchen, change it. Drill a small bookshelf into the wall if you have the wall space. or put a sturdy shelf up above the sink or any other spot in the kitchen with a blank wall (obviously not near the rangehood). or, place them in your kitchen cupboard if you have the room, in a box or basket.

  • If your benches are laminex and have been stained by something (culprits can be cordial, spaghetti sauces rich in tomatoes or food colorings whilst baking) before reaching for the bleach, cut a lemon in half, squeeze it over the stains, sprinkle bi-carb soda on the top and leave for 10 mins. Come back and scrub gently, alot of stains go away or at least fade nicely with this method.

  • For odors in your refrigerator squeeze a lemon into a bowl and place the bowl centered in your fridge for a few days. It helps to absorb the odors. Of course youll need to wipe down your fridge too since there could be something spilt in there causing the smell.

  • to clean your benchtops easily and quickly, try disinfecting wipes. Buy the generic brand which is alot cheaper. They may seem expensive in comparison to using a cloth you can wash or a sponge that may last you a week...but disinfecting wipes are ALOT more hygenic than the old sponge. You use them once and dispose of them, unlike a sponge which breeds bacteria from the moment you use it. Im usually a "green cleaner" but these wipes cant be beaten on hygene. Of course you will still need a scourer for caked on food, but majority of the time, a disinfecting wipe will get the job done and leave a nice fresh smell on your benches and appliances.

  • check your kettle from time to time for limescale, its easy to get rid of, empty your kettle, pour 3/4 cup of uncooked white rice and 1/2 cup of white vinager into the kettle and swish around (give it a little shake, a swish, etc, you just want the rice to seemingly be scratching the inside of the kettle, focusing on the bottom. Pour out after a minute or two and give your kettle a good rinsing. Then fill your kettle to capacity, add a 1/4 cup of bi-carb soda and boil the kettle. Empty the kettle (save the water for your plants once its cool) and rinse well again. Have a look...oooh! looks like you wont be needing a new kettle for a while then :-)

  • kitchen windows...if you have a normal kitchen, you probably have just the one window to worry about. If you have an older country kitchen, you might have a whole row of windows. Mine tend to attract all sorts of friends. Bugs, spiders, plenty of cobwebs, dead flies, midgies, moths etc. They all seem to nest or die right there on my windows, or in the sills. It was getting outta hand. I dont like washing windows and vacuuming sills, so it bothered me greatly. The trick is to use a preventative. After cleaning your windows and sills of all creatures and dust, proceed to put a little bit of either lavendar oil or eucalyptus oil on a cloth, and rub the cloth around the sills, inside and outside. Bugs and spiders hate the smell and it will keep most of them away, and others reluctant to set up camp. in short, youll be doing the job less often. Winner! Also, if you have a roach problem (we kept finding ones on their back dying on the bathroom tiles!!) add about a teaspoon or less of eucaliptus oil into the bucket when you wash the floors with whatever you use. You wont be able to smell it once its dry, but it sure keeps the cockroaches away and is so much safer than surface spraying!
I could keep going, but I dont think this post needs to be any longer! lets hear it from you! Leave a comment with your own kitchen cleaning tips! Will be posting on kitchen organisation eventally too :-)