For millions, this burst of energy is put right to work by doing some "spring cleaning" in their houses. For me? The biggest spring cleaning task revolves around the room I'm in 99 percent of the time -- the kitchen.
Every year, it's as daunting as the next. However, if you are like me and cringe at the thought of deep cleaning your kitchen and panic because you don't know where to start, don't fret! Here's an easy checklist of tasks to tackle as well as easy ways to get them done. With the weather so beautiful, who wants to be stuck inside all day?
Unless you are one of the lucky ones with a self-cleaning oven or a set of house cleaners, chances are the appliances you use every day aren't getting cleaned on a regular basis. This isn't for lazy reasons or lack of knowledge; these high use appliances are almost always in use [especially the oven in the winter] so finding time to scrape them clean is hard. However, don't think you need to fumigate the house with stinky oven cleaners or hire expensive maids. Instead, try this easy DIY oven cleaning tip provided by Martha Stewart.
Mix a paste together with baking soda and water. Liberally cover the entire oven surface(s) with the paste (avoiding bare metal, heating elements) and let stand completely overnight. Then, put on some gloves and scrub! The scrubbing won't take long since the chemicals in the baking soda will have worked to loosen the stains and gunk at the bottom. To clean the coils, scrub them with a sponge and a little baking soda. If you have removable gas coils, remove them when they are cold and place them in the dishwasher, unless otherwise noted by the manufacturer.
Luckily refrigerators and microwaves are much easier to clean. All you need is some kitchen cleaner (try Green Works cleaners for less dangerous toxins), gloves and a sponge! However, if ice has built up in the freezer, squirt hot water mixed with baking soda to melt it. Wipe the microwave clean with a damp towel or sponge. Plus, always sanitize these high use appliances with Lysol or other bacteria killing wipes.
After the hardest part is done (the deep cleaning), the fun part can start! Reorganizing your kitchen may seem like a daunting task at first, but once you get started, you'll be surprised at how relieved you feel when you have more room for your pots, pans and knick knacks. One of the easiest ways you can make more room is to consolidate. Have three containers of open flour, two containers of sugar and a few bags of rice in the back? Pour them into separately labeled jars. Not only will it be easier to grab and use, but you'll save yourself tons of space in the meantime. Practice this in your pantry too. Put all pastas, chocolates and the like in clear containers so they are easy to spot.
Another way to save space is to hang baskets on the wall or add some shelving. Adding sturdy shelving can save you an entire cabinet's worth of space (bye bye cluttered spices) as well as add more character to your kitchen! Hanging baskets is an easier way to de-clutter your cabinets and drawers. In addition to saving you cabinet space, hanging baskets can also save you precious refrigerator space! Hung on a kitchen wall with cup hooks, they make great places for fruits and vegetables!
Can you see the top of your kitchen sink? If you're like me, the chances are slim. Mine is covered in sponges, dish soap, hand soap and bristle pads. Not only is it a bacteria farm (bacteria loves to grow under moist sponges), but it's a mess because they constantly get knocked into the sink. Clean up your sink by placing sponges and bristle pads on a small separate soap dish. Then, scour flea markets and cheap consignment stores for a tray large enough to hold your soaps. This will save you space on your kitchen sink counter and will prevent bacteria from growing into your sink and soap from spilling over your counter top. Another good way to make your kitchen sink more visually appealing is by pouring dish soaps in fun glass containers like these.
Now that your kitchen is spotless and your pantry is de-cluttered, it's time to organize! Let's begin with the big items -- pots and pans. Pots, pans and skillets take up an enormous amount of space in cabinets and are often hard to reach. If you are able, install a hanging rack above your stove or island and save yourself time, grief and tons of space in your cabinets. If you think these racks are expensive, you are mistaken! This gorgeous stainless steel rack is less than $70 from Target!
Now, let's move to the fridge. Take this time to clean out any and all suspicious containers. Salad dressing that's been in there for a few months? Toss out anything you haven't eaten in over a month or anything with a past expiration date. This may be common knowledge, but it's sometimes hard to keep track of exactly what's in your fridge. Once the old stuff has been thrown away, it's time to reorganize! The shelves on the side of the fridge can't hold everything. Install a fridge turntable so you can store highly used condiments there instead of burying them in the side shelves.
Now, let's move to the utensil drawer. If you don't have one already, get a utensil divider at your nearest Walmart or Target. This will make organizing your flatware easy and painless. If you have an extra drawer, create an easy no-slip cover for the top so you can store your knives without taking up counter space with a wooden block.
With just a little time and some elbow grease, your kitchen will be brand new for the coming season. Sure beats an expensive remodel, right?
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