7 Kitchen Cleaning Tricks That Really Work

January  5, 2015

Some of our favorite tips in the kitchen are for getting it sparkling clean; these are their stories. 

1. How to cut oily, dusty kitchen grime: 

cut through grime

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To easily clean "the layer of sticking cooking-oil infused dust that accumulates on high surfaces in the kitchen," as Kristen so aptly calls it, our Senior Software Engineer Alp Aker suggested using "a microfiber cloth dipped constantly in very hot water. The idea is basically to use heat to soften the caked-on oil, so the hotter the water the better." 

2. How to get gunk out of kitchen crevices:

crevices  crevies

To clean out all of those nasty dry bits (flour! dried egg! cocoa powder!) that get stuck in the crevices of stand mixers, I use a toothpick or pointy-ended skewer. It's satisfying to excavate all of the materials of baking projects past and then wipe them up with a damp cloth. I also make sure to unscrew the little knob where you can affix attachments to the mixer; there's always a lot of gunk hiding under there. —Contributors Editor, Sarah Jampel

3. How to banish lingering kitchen smells, faster: 

white vinegar

The internet told me that that you can simmer white vinegar on the stovetop to disipate an unwanted kitchen smell, like bacon air or seared flank steak smoke. I tried it after cooking a big vat of soup with sausage in it, which smells actually very good but gets old after a whole day of smelling it, and I absolutely think the bubbling vinegar helped clear out the air more quickly. When I needed to leave the house, I just turned the burner off and let it sit, then came home to an apartment that smelled, wonderfully, like nothing. —Design & Home Editor, Amanda Sims

4. How to get your cooktop spankin' clean:

clean cooktop

Easy-off oven cleaner is the answer to the burnt-on spills around burners! —Executive Editor & Resident Genius, Kristen Miglore 

5How to get rid of all the fruit flies:

fruit flies 

Halve two to three pieces of citrus and place them in your oven directly on the rack. Leave the oven door propped open for a few hours (or up to overnight). In the morning, close the oven door and turn the broiler on. Let the oven cool, toss the citrus, and wipe out the base of the oven. The flies are gone and your kitchen smells good to boot! —Test Kitchen Manager, Derek Laughren

6. How to make your white sink white again:

white sink white

I'm all about lemon + baking soda to clean my sink. Anytime I have leftover lemon from cooking or juicing, before tossing it I sprinkle some baking soda in the sink and use the lemon half as a scrubber. It saves my sponge from nasty sink germs a little longer! —Events Manager, Heather Wautelet

7. How to clean grout:

baking soda on tiles

I can't remember where I heard about this trick to basically reimagine every elementary school science fair volcano as a tile and grout cleaner. If your tiles are flat (maybe on a shower shelf or kitchen counter), sprinkle baking soda along the grout lines, and then pour or spray white vinegar over the baking soda and watch it fizz! If the tiles are vertical, make a thick paste of baking soda and a little water; apply it to the grout, let sit, and then spray with vinegar. After letting it sit for a few minutes, use a toothbrush to scrub it clean. It may not remove deep stains, but it's become part of my regular shower cleaning routine. —Assistant Editor, Caroline Lange

This post originally ran on September 21st; we're bringing it back to celebrate a new year (and all the grime-tackling that entails). 

How do you keep your kitchen sparkling clean? Let us know in the comments!

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Fran M. May 11, 2017
Just borax & hot water will melt all the dusty grease off of anything in the kitchen plus your pipes will be squeaky clean.
Annie May 11, 2017
I never thought of that. So if I place my oven range filters in the sink with borax and hot water - that grease is safe to go down the sink through the pipes?
Steven W. March 7, 2017
Number 5 is kinda gross. If you are going todeal with dead fruit flies, just wash them down the sink after they've drowned. Fill a shallow dish with apple cider vinegar, about 1/3 full. Add a drop of dish soap--just a drop and mix it up. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and poke a few holes with a skewer--not too big. Set itout and soon you will them all flowting in the bottom of the dish...when it's more than you can stand, rinse it out and set out a fresh dish. In high summer, mine sits out about a week.
Steven W. March 7, 2017
Sorry for the fingers...
Lazyretirementgirl February 23, 2017
Easy off took the finish off the grates of my range, so beware...
Arion February 23, 2017
I have found Easy-Off on the cooktop is practically useless for those dark colored burnt grease spots. I use baking soda with a moistened paper towel and lots of elbow grease.
KOJohnson September 28, 2016
Sorry, ladies, but any advice about combining baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice defeats the purpose. The satisfying bubbly fizz cleans nothing: it's just the acid in the liquid neutralizing the alkali in the sodium bicarbonate. You end up with nothing worth anything. You'll get better results with one or the other. Use baking soda as a scratch-free abrasive, and vinegar or lemon juice as a mild acidic wash, but combining them neutralizes all of their cleaning power. Basic chemistry. Basic, basic, basic--or basic and acidic!--chemistry.
Steven W. March 7, 2017
Did you know there are gents who read these articles? Just sayin'!
Deborah J. September 9, 2016
I use lemon juice to dissolve hard water scale buildup. I just put lemon juice from the bottle in a small cup and paint the lemon juice on scaly areas with a q-tip and let it stand for a few minutes. I then use a plastic spoon or bamboo skewer to gently scrub the softened scale away.
Domynoe L. September 6, 2016
I use vinegar for everything: cleaning, laundry, EVERYTHING. :P
JB July 13, 2016
Hello Judy Wing... Watros . Carol has a point regarding the mildew odor, especially if it seems stronger under the sink than above. take a look at the base of the cupboard, under the sink. If the wood, (particle board), seems to be flaking sagging or just damp, you may have a slight leak, making the wood damp and giving mildew a great location to flourish. look for drip points, tracks on pipes, or calcite buildup, on fittings and shutoffs. and good luck.
If it is the disposal, and you eat oranges regularly, save the peels, half a peel once a day, fresh, or hard & dry, with a bit of hot water should be more than enough to eliminate disposal odors.
Dishwashers usually drain through the disposal, so if I happen to be in the kitchen when dishwasher is pumping out its water, I will turn on the disposal for about 30 sec, for a freebee flush! You will be able to hear the water splashing off the blades, if not you either have a separate drain point, or bad timing. lol and I do hope it is not plumbing issue.
KOJohnson is totally correct about combining soda and vinegar, the fizzle is just its way of saying "I am now incapable of cleaning any better than plain water"
Keep cooking:)
carol June 30, 2016
Actually, if there is a mildew smell, might that indicate some pipes that need cleaning (rather than disposal)?
carol June 30, 2016
Have you tried citrus? Lemon or orange (just cut up into quarters or so).
Judy W. June 30, 2016
I have tried everything to get the mildew smell out of my garbage disposal if you have a suggestion i would love to try it
catalinalacruz June 30, 2016
Allow vinegar to set in it overnight? (A question mark, because I have not had this problem, therefore, have not tried this.)Then run cut up lemon or lime through it.
Or put 1/4 cup baking soda in, then enough vinegar to get it bubbling up. Let it sit 20 minutes. Then pour very hot water through it -- the remedy to keep drains fresh and unblocked.
Kathleen K. July 10, 2016
Many times the problem is built up "gunk" under the rubber sink guard. We forget that food splashes up and stays there. Use soapy hot water on a sponge or cloth. You'll be surprised how nasty it get under there!
KOJohnson September 28, 2016
The only thing that will remove mildew and its odor is chlorine bleach. A good coat of impermeable enamel paint on wood, once you've eliminated the mildew, helps prevent recurrence and makes it easier to clean. However, some of the cheaper enamels these days contain certain oils that actually host mildew. I had to repaint newly repainted woodwork because of that. So buy the best!
Maurina R. May 11, 2017
Using a muffin tin, I freeze vinegar and cut up citrus into "muffins" and put one down the disposal when needed. The vinegar and citrus deodorize, and in a frozen state, sharpen the blades by knocking any burrs off.
Practically E. June 28, 2016
You can use left over coffee grounds as an abrasive to clean pots with burned on stuff. I use it on our roasting pan after roasting chickens.
foodlets June 22, 2016
Love the idea about boiling vinegar to eliminate leftover food smells! (And in about 1 month's time, aka The Annual Fruit Fly Invasion, I'm sure I'll be slicing a lemon and placing directly in my oven.) Thanks! Charity, from
Amanda S. June 20, 2016
For anyone who's interested in eco-friendly cleaning tricks, here are 17 others: I also wanted to note that since we published this piece, a new law was signed banning the production of microbeads (it goes into effect Jan 1, 2017); in the meantime, if you're worried about them, a cotton cloth will work just as well for tip #1!
Annie May 27, 2016
To get rid of the oily dusty grime on my range hood - I have a container of DIY wipes (vinegar, boiled water, dish soap and rubbing alcohol). I cleaned it several months ago and it's still shiny. When my wipes are gone but still some vinegar solution - I unscrew the shower head and toss it in the container to get rid of any hard water stains and that icky pink slime.

But as someone else mentioned vinegar can dissolve grout - so this isn't for everything.
E May 26, 2016
I just tried this one yesterday and it works GREAT!: To get rid of gnats and fruit flies half fill a short glass with apple cider vinegar, stretch cling wrap across the top and poke a few holes toward the center of the wrap. I did this yesterday and this morning the glass was full of them and the house is nearly rid of them! Wow to this one!
KOJohnson May 26, 2016
Baking soda is a great cleanser, and so is vinegar, but any hint that tells you to combine them is defeating itself. Sodium bicarbonate is a base (alkali), and acetic acid is, well, an acid. The fizzing has no cleaning action: it's just the two chemicals neutralizing each other, cancelling out their cleaning properties altogether.
Demi L. May 25, 2016
yeah 'm big on baking soda. Thatgrimy bathtub, and baseball pants!
pj_gentry May 24, 2016
The citrus in the oven for the fruit flies or gnats did not work, Apple cider vinegar draws them but I seem to have 100s not sure what to do any ideas
Ruth M. May 24, 2016
Vacuum the fruit flies up!
KOJohnson May 26, 2016
They're undoubtedly breeding in your house plants and your drains. Boiling water poured down the drain every day for a week or so takes care of that; and use Sevin to treat your houseplants. Follow label instructions. That'll kill the larvae. You may need to repeat if you have another outbreak, because only one can lay hundreds of thousands of eggs. But that's where you have to attack: drains and houseplants.
Louise D. May 28, 2016
Taro for ants fet from the hardware store , keeps them away and is safe !

Louise D. May 28, 2016
I meant Taro for fruit flies bait works good
Marcia J. June 7, 2016
I had tons of knats I tried all them remedys and nothing. I was raising cactus in my house I used seven dust it worked great. It did take a while just don't put it on the plant itself. Put it on the dirt
Joseph M. October 16, 2016
Sevin Dust Poison has its uses in your garden but Never in your house.
Nancy D. March 6, 2017
Try red wine in place of the vinegar. I was besieged by fruitflies last year and the little bastards were really drawn to the wine and died promptly.
Steve C. May 23, 2016
#4 Do not let the easy off get on the paint only on the porcelain. It will blister and remove the paint.