How to Clean 5 Things in Your Kitchen You Didn't Know You Had To

BY: Aimee Algas Alker |Mar 30, 2018

Washing dishes, wiping down counters—keeping the kitchen clean is a daily chore. Even if you hire a pro to do housecleaning and maintenance, there's much more you should do to keep your kitchen truly tidy. For example, did you know you had to clean your dishwasher?

This is part of a series. We've also covered the bathroom. Stay tuned for how to clean things you didn't know you had to—in the laundry room and the rest of the home.

Refrigerator Coils

Why you should clean them: They can attract dust and pet hair, which over time, cover the coils in a thick layer that can make the appliance work harder and much less efficiently to keep things cold.

How to clean refrigerator coils:

  1. Unplug the refrigerator.

  2. Locate the coils. On most (read: newer) refrigerators, the coils are located behind the grill at the front bottom of the fridge, which must be removed. On older ones, they might be in back.

  3. Gently vacuum the dirt and dust from the coils.

  4. Remove really stuck-on debris with a clean paint brush or a duster.

Bonus points: For step 4, use a coil brush like this one, designed specifically for this purpose

How often: Once a year


Ice Maker

Why you should clean it: Ice cubes can absorb freezer odors, making ice clumpy and taste a little weird. Counterintuitively, the less you use your ice maker, the more it likely needs cleaning.

How to clean an ice maker:

  1. To stop the ice maker, lift up on the power bar; if it doesn't have one, look for a switch or unplug the fridge itself.

  2. Pull out the bin and dump its contents into the sink.

  3. Wash the bin with dish soap and rinse it well (or put it in the dishwasher if it fits and is dishwasher safe).

  4. Use a sponge or dishcloth to wipe down the inside of the ice maker and the ice chute with a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water.

  5. Dry the bin thoroughly.

  6. Replace the bin and turn everything back on.

Bonus points: For an extra clean bin, wipe it down with the vinegar solution after the initial wash.

How often: Every 3–6 months


Trash Can

Why you should clean it: The trash can holds trash, which can harbor all kinds of germs. When your trash can smells even when there's no trash in it, that's a sign that it needs to be cleaned.

How to clean a trash can:

  1. Empty the can and discard any large chunks of food or trash that might have gotten loose in the bottom of the can.

  2. Rinse it out, either outside with the hose or in the bathtub.

  3. Spray it with disinfectant. Whatever you normally use to clean your kitchen should suffice, or you can use a 1:1 white vinegar and water solution.

  4. Scrub it with a sponge or brush, and let it sit for a few minutes.

  5. Rinse it again, then let it air dry or towel dry it.

Bonus points: Let it dry outside in the sun.

How often: Once or twice a year


Why you should clean it: Food and soap scum build up and make the washer more inefficient over time. As with many kitchen items, if it smells, it needs cleaning.

How to do clean a dishwasher:

  1. Clean the drain and filter with a wet sponge. Located under the bottom rack, the drain and filter often collect gunked up food. If the filter is really gross and you can remove it, soak it in soapy water for 10 minutes.

  2. Empty the dishwasher completely, and place a cup of white vinegar on the top rack. Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher.

  3. Run the dishwasher on the hottest setting.

Bonus points: Scrub away stubborn spots with an old toothbrush.

How often: Monthly


Garbage Disposal

Why you should clean it: Food can get caught in the crevices and start to rot, resulting in nasty odors.

How to do clean a garbage disposal:

  1. Extract stuck objects or chunks of food with a pair of tongs (NOT your hands; those blades are sharp!).

  2. Plug the sink and fill it with hot soapy water, then drain it to flush out the disposal.

  3. Drop in some ice cubes and rock salt, then turn it on. The ice cubes not only help remove food from the blades, but they also help sharpen them.

  4. Pour 4 tablespoons of Borax, or a 1:1 mixture of baking soda and vinegar into the disposal, let sit for around 15 minutes, then flush it away with hot water.

  5. Scrub away any stubborn gunk with an old toothbrush or scrub brush.

Bonus points: To freshen it up quickly, toss citrus peels (or even a whole lemon) into the disposal and turn it on.

How often: Monthly



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