How to Speed-Clean Your Kitchen

Real Simple

The best time-saving tips, techniques, and to-do lists for polishing off the kitchen.

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Photo: Frances Janisch

Kitchen Cleaning To-Do List

When cleaning the kitchen always start with the sink. "Keep it empty and shining," says Marla Cilley, author of Sink Reflections (Bantam, $15, and creator of, a housekeeping website.

A sparkling sink becomes your kitchen's benchmark for hygiene and tidiness, inspiring you to load the dishwasher immediately and keep counters, refrigerator doors, and the stove top spick-and-span, too.

Every Day Kitchen Duties:

• Wipe down the sink after doing the dishes or loading the dishwasher (30 seconds).

• Wipe down the stove top (one minute).

• Wipe down the counters (one minute).

• Sweep, Swiffer, or vacuum the floor (two minutes).

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Every Week :

• Mop the floor (five minutes).

• Wipe the cabinets, backsplashes, and appliances (10 minutes).

• Wash the dish rack (four minutes).

• Wipe the switch plates and phone (one minute).

• Wipe the inside of the garbage can (one minute).

Every Season:

• Empty and scrub down the inside of the refrigerator (30 minutes).

• Empty and clean the insides of the utensil drawers (15 minutes).

• Scrub down the cupboard exteriors (30 minutes).

• Clean the stove-hood filter (10 minutes).

• Perform "Shiny Sink 101". (See Below)

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Photo: Mikkel Vang

Beat the Clock

In the time it takes to brew a pot of coffee, you can get through your "every day" list.

Be Prepared

Keep extra garbage bags (or a whole roll) at the bottom of your trash can and never again have to retrieve an apple core from a bagless bin.

Let It Shine

Streak-free stainless-steel surfaces are the Holy Grail of kitchen cleaning. Caldrea's olive oil–based Stainless Steel Spray promises to reduce fingerprints. (Starting at $12, Yahoo! Shopping)

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Photo: Frances Janisch

Shiny Sink 101

1. Fill sink to the rim with very hot water; add one cup regular bleach. Soak for one hour.

2. Drain and rinse thoroughly.

3. Scrub with Ajax, Bon Ami, or baking soda.

4. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.

5. Shine with Windex or another glass-cleaning spray. Dry thoroughly.

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Photo: Mikkel Vang

Cleaning Kitchen Odds and Ends

The quickest way to clean and disinfect these supplies is to put them in the dishwasher.

• Burner grids and knobs
• Brushes and combs
• Toothbrushes
• Plastic utensil organizer
• Refrigerator drawers
• Drain catch
• Sponges
• Dish rack
• Plastic toys (use discretion)

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Photo: Mikkel Vang

Cleaning Supplies to Keep in the Kitchen

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes (Starting at $4, Yahoo! Shopping): for all hard, nonwood surfaces. They leave a fresh, nonchemical scent.

Windex Glass and Surface Wipes (Starting at $4.50, Yahoo! Shopping): for windows and chrome.

Microfiber cloths and mops, such as StarFiber ($17 for mops, $3-$11 for cloths; or Act Natural ($22 for mop, $10.50 for cloth; green alternatives to disposable wipes, or to chemical cleaners and paper towels. For cleaning all surfaces. Especially effective for polishing stainless steel.


Ajax ($2.70, Bon Ami ($4,, or baking soda.

Clorox ReadyMop (Starting at $16 for starter kit, Yahoo! Shopping): Wash the floor without a bucket. Works on most surfaces.

• Broom, Swiffer (Starting at $11 for starter kit, Yahoo! Shopping), or handheld vacuum: for crumb busting.

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