It’s no secret that many of us find ourselves cooking more over the holidays. From Ugly Sweater parties to New Year’s Day and everything in between, our appliances could use a little more love than usual during this time of year. After all, you want to put your best foot forward when guests arrive.
When your grandma walks into the kitchen on Thanksgiving to help you prepare a meal, you don't want her to reach into a smudged refrigerator to grab the vegetables.
But if you’re anything like me, you probably cringe at the thought of using harsh chemicals on your appliances. So, can household items like white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon really help to reverse the grime left by holiday cooking? We’re breaking down several tried and true ways to keep your appliances in tip top shape over the holidays.
How to Make Sure Your Fridge is Sparkling Clean - Inside and Out!
Before attempting to clean your refrigerator, be sure to empty all of its contents. This not only protects your food but also helps to ensure you’re able to give the fridge a good clean without anything in the way. After removing all your food and beverages, remove any shelves or drawers that you can. These removable parts can be washed in the sink using soap and cold water.
To clean the inside of the fridge, most people opt for a natural cleanser. It’s important to never use harsh, aromatic cleansers or bleach in your fridge. This is because the food will absorb the smell of the cleanser. For best results, create a solution using baking soda or white vinegar.
How to clean a fridge with baking soda: Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with one quart of hot water.
How to clean a fridge with white vinegar: Mix one part white vinegar with three parts hot water.
After creating your solution, pour it into a spray bottle and spray the mixture across the interior of the fridge. Wipe it down with a microfiber cloth (a sponge works great too! The idea is to use something soft to avoid scratching the shelves).
Make sure the interior of the fridge is completely dry before restocking it with food and beverages. This is also a great opportunity to toss any spoiled or rotten food. Only fresh food and beverages are allowed back in your clean fridge!
But what about the outside of your refrigerator? If you have a stainless steel refrigerator, you can use a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap. Use a microfiber cloth to clean the surface and rinse with warm water. Make sure to dry the surface fully to avoid smudges and water marks.
For best results, make sure to clean with the grain of the stainless steel. Although these directions are geared towards stainless steel refrigerators, this method is safe to use on just about any refrigerator.
How to Clean a Microwave (and have it smell fresh!)
The microwave is one of the most used but most overlooked appliances when it comes to cleaning. It’s not uncommon for pasta sauce to splash up onto the sides of the microwave or butter to leak out from your bag of fresh popcorn. Keeping this appliance clean is especially important around the holidays, as you’ll probably have to reheat food that you prepared hours or days in advance. But how can you clean your microwave? The process is actually quite simple.
Grab a microwave safe bowl and fill it with water and a few slices of lemon. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of water and white vinegar. Turn the microwave on high for several minutes until the mixture comes to a boil. Let the bowl sit for several minutes and wipe the inside of the microwave with a cloth or sponge. The steam from either solution will help to loosen any grease or grime in the microwave and make it easy for you to wipe away the stains. The lemon also gives your microwave a fresh and clean smell.
How to Ensure Your Dishwasher is as Clean as the China Inside
I know what you’re thinking. I’m telling you, you have to clean an appliance that’s made for...cleaning?! Yes. Yes I am.
Many dishwashers have a self-clean function, which is a great option if it’s available. If not, you can place a bowl of our favorite cleaner (white vinegar!) in a dishwasher safe bowl, and place it on the bottom of the appliance. Run your dishwasher on a hot water setting and enjoy a cup of coffee as you wait for the cycle to end. Unlike cleaning your microwave, cleaning a dishwasher doesn’t require any scrubbing. The vinegar will help to loosen any caked on debris or soap scum and the rinse cycle will wash the residue down the drain. This can be done every few weeks to ensure your dishwasher is just as clean as your dishes!
How to Clean Baked-on Stains in an Oven
It's probably been a while since you thought about cleaning your oven. This task is even more important around the holidays, as burned soot and grease can transfer and affect the taste and smell of other dishes. Having burnt-on crumbs in the oven can even cause excess smoke in your home, making the house smell more like burnt food than, say, roasted turkey or apple pie.
One of the most common misconceptions about cleaning an oven is that you can simply utilize the self clean mode once a month. However, you should only use this setting once per year (and only if you really have to). Instead, you can use either an oven cleaner or a simple homemade mixture.
Before you begin, make sure to remove any racks, pots, or pans that are in your oven (don’t worry - we’ll clean these later). Once the inside is clear, bring your oven up to 200 degrees fahrenheit and place a bowl of water inside. The water will steam your oven and help to eliminate some of the more stubborn buildup. After the oven cools back down, grab your favorite cleaner and scrub the walls of the oven with a sponge.
Alternatively, you can create a paste using a half a cup of baking soda and two to three tablespoons of water. Although this is an overnight process, it’s a great alternative to chemical cleansers.
After mixing the baking soda and water, spread this paste across the inside of the oven. While doing so, be sure to avoid any heating or gas elements. Once the paste is spread, close your oven door and let the mixture sit overnight, for about 12 hours.
The next morning, you can use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe away the paste. If you have trouble removing the baking soda, spray a little vinegar on top of the stubborn spots. Take your sponge or cloth and continue to scrub until the oven’s interior is clean.
How to Clean Oven Racks
After closing your oven door for the night, bring your racks into the bathtub (yes, the bathtub). Coat the racks in baking soda and vinegar and wait for the foam to settle. Next, submerge the racks in hot water and allow them to sit overnight. In the morning, you can use a rag or sponge to scrub off any grime or debris. Dry them off and pop them back into your clean oven!
To ensure your appliances are ready for holiday entertaining, we recommend cleaning them about a week before you start cooking. Have you tried any of the tips above? Or do you have additional tips we may have missed! Let us know in the comments.
What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder?
Baking soda is better for cleaning because of the fizzy reaction it produces (think back to the classic science fair volcano). It's also popular in cleaning because it has to power to effectively neutralize odors. Baking powder, on the other hand, is a leavening agent used for baking.
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