Install an undermount sink
The tiny piece of countertop that lies between the kitchen sink and the backsplash seems to attract all kinds of mold, food, and filth —and it sure isn’t easy to clean. Remedy the problem by installing an undermount sink. It will allow you to easily brush food into the sink without getting caught on the lip, and you’ll never again feel outwitted by an impossible-to-clean sliver of countertop.
Apparently, almond-colored Formica countertops were all the rage in the 1980s, and we’ve even seen this outdated color scheme in more modern homes. The only problem with this lovely shade of Formica is that it looks terrible and shows every last crumb, smudge and tidbit of food. If the cost of replacing countertops is keeping you enmeshed with your stained almond Formica, take heart. You can keep the countertops right where they are by just refreshing them with a low-cost Formica paint or a slightly more expensive refinishing product like Rustoleum. The new color may not prevent messes, but it sure will disguise them more effectively.
Let’s face it: Kitchen floors are disgusting. They attract globs and crumbs of food, and the sheer amount of time a family spends in the kitchen means that the floors are also covered in dirt and mud buildup. But who, besides a tiny vacuum robot, has the time to sweep every day? Let the Roomba (iRobot, prices vary) do the daily cleanup for you.
Competent and intelligent adults appear to not function well before their morning cup of Joe. How else can we explain coffee grounds and coffee stains smeared all over the countertops, besides a malfunctioning brain? Try a no-mess Keurig (Keurig, prices vary) for a perfect cup of coffee in the morning, without the mess of coffee grounds and the never-ending annoyance of failing to pour properly.
We’re not saying that this solution is going to look good, but a layer of aluminum foil in the bottom of an oven prevents baking mishaps from making your house smell like it’s on fire. Foil in the oven also makes for an easy cleanup, especially if you’re baking several items that are prone to overflow — like pies on Thanksgiving Day.
A crisp, white kitchen looks fabulous in Better Homes & Gardens. A crisp, white kitchen, however, tends to look horrible about three and a half days after move-in in the real world. You can still keep touches of white in the kitchen, but consider using bright accent colors on the walls to mask the marks of food splatter and dirt.
Sauces and oils splatter during the cooking process, which can leave a nasty film on the stove top. But sometimes it’s not a good idea to just put a cover on the pan, because holding steam in can ruin a meal. Instead, purchase a splatter screen like this one (Crate & Barrel, $20). Most splatter screens are universal for a variety of pans, and they keep splatter in while allowing steam out.
Even if you have an amazing garbage disposal that can pulverize an entire raw chicken, sinks often smell bad. Reduce the smell that’s lurking in your garbage disposal by cutting a lemon into four parts and running them through the disposal. Your kitchen will smell as fresh as, well, a lemon.
If you have young children, you know that the main reason for going to a restaurant is for someone else to clean up dinnertime messes. It certainly isn’t for relaxation. To obtain the same carefree mealtime feeling at home, use a drop cloth underneath your child’s chair to catch spills.
Even the most oops-proof kitchens occasionally need a good cleaning. We like Fantastik Oxy Power because it really roots up embedded grime and stains without making the whole kitchen smell like bleach.
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