HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Who keeps your kitchen clean, and just how clean? [moved from Cookware board]

I just spent half the day cleaning every exterior surface in my kitchen and I was shocked by how filthy some of it was. Not the counter or sinks, but the bottom edge of appliances, open shelves, top of frig--not to mention the microwave--and I haven't even touched the inside of the over or frig. Neither my husband or I are great housekeepers, but I had no idea how much hadn't been cleaned in awhile. So how clean do you keep your kitchen or do you have hired help?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Open shelves get filthy, there are no two ways about it. If the surfaces and top of refrig are caked on grease, well, you'd be amazed at what a good ventilation system will solve. I know this because at the moment we don't have one. It's sort of a losing battle there, but I do try to de-grease the place every other month.

    The inside of the oven gets cleaned at least twice a year, it's a self-cleaning oven. The fridge, once a year for Passover. Thank goodness for Pesach, otherwise I fear the kitchen would never be cleaned.

    Also, this is one reason why I really like small kitchens. It doesn't take a long time to scrub down. I've seen some kitchens where, well...it does take half a day. Or a whole day. Yes, if I had a large kitchen I would bite the bullet and have someone come in and help on a weekly basis.

    1. The kitchen gets a complete and thorough cleaning once a week. Surfaces, inside of microwave, inside of fridge, floor and inside/outside of garbage can all washed down and/or cleaned using disinfectant spray. Same goes for the sink. On a daily basis, whatever is used ( stovetop, coffee maker, microwave) and the counters are wiped down with disinfectant. Sink is sprayed out w/hot water and soap. If something is especially dirtied, I attack the spill ASAP. The inside of the oven is cleaned on self-cleaning once every 2 to 3 weeks. Stove burners can be soaked in the sink as you clean everything else, and then do the sink last of course.

      7 Replies
      1. re: MRS

        I clean the kitchen, but my husband often does the dishes. I have certain cupboards that get wipes each day and clean one appliance thoroughly per week on a rotation. Obviously, if there are spills or splatters they get wiped whether it's that part of the kitchen's turn or not.

        1. re: MRS

          I do the same, and I also make sure not to leave dishes out - they get washed essentially immediately (whether that's while something is cooking or directly after the meal).

          1. re: MRS

            I forgot to mention that I'm the primary cool *and* cleaner for this place, and I live with my partner and two others.

            1. re: MRS

              I'm just curious as to why your oven is so soiled you need to clean it so often. I make use of baking sheets under pies, potatoes, to avoid spills. I'm reluctant to use a disinfectant spray in the microwave, as the food is so exposed in there. I use soap and water to wipe it out. Why would you need to disinfect a coffeemaker?

              I consider myself pretty neat and tidy. I keep up with the inside of the fridge, and take it apart every once in a while to thoroughly clean it. I wash the sponges in the dishwasher, and zap them on high in the microwave for 1 minute.
              I do have outside help, but I also use a swiffer a couple of times a week.

              On the other hand, I have a friend whose kitchen is pretty grimy. No one in her house is ever sick. Perhaps we're all over doing it?

              1. re: CookieLee

                Of course we're overdoing it! Somehow the human race managed to survive and thrive for millennia without disinfecting everything. The more you disinfect, the more you (a) create superbugs, and (b) lower your own natural resistance. It's pretty well established now that a lot of allergies in children are caused by their immune system not being exposed to enough benign pathogens. Plus, you're putting all those nasty chemicals around your food -- much worse than a few germs IMHO. Why would you need to disinfect an oven that heats to temperatures high enough to kill germs anyway?

                I'm not saying we should live in pigsties, but there's no need to try to keep your kitchen as sterile as an operating room!

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Makes me think of Sam's Magic Kitchen. :)

            2. A lot of the greasy, dusty buildup has to do with actually cooking in your kitchen. Anything near the cooktop is in danger of getting greasy residue. I have a beautiful, large, open plan kitchen, but I have never actually hung the pot rack I have always wanted, because the hooks for it are over my cooktop, which is in the center island. I have always assumed that anything I hang from it would be full of grease and dust in no time, so I just didn't buy one. Same with backspashes and counters.

              I am the cook and the cleaner. To me, the most important things to keep clean involve surfaces that come into contact with food. Sinks are a big bacteria draw, so I work on those constantly.

              Countertops are next. I have all closed shelves because Texas is a dusty place. No point making more work and having more to dust. The other place I focus on is the meat drawer in the fridge. That is the bottom drawer, and I line it with paper towels so that I can easily spot any leaking from meat packages. At the first sign of chicken "juice" -- it gets cleaned immediately. The veggie drawer is next.

              I give the place a once over after every meal, because I don't want any food or crumbs on surfaces. It goes fast after you get used to doing it. Most importantly, the cooktop needs to get wiped down after cooking. I don't know how everyone else cooks, but mine gets greasy and dirty pretty quickly.

              My floors are wood and hide dirt well, but they need a Swiffer and damp mop at least a couple of times a week.

              1. Agreed, anything out on the counter or an open shelf is fair game for dirt and grease. I put everything I possibly can in cabinets and the pantry. Counters and sinks are cleaned daily, the refrigerator monthly, and the floors, appliances, etc. are all cleaned weekly. I do a quick sweep of the kitchen floor at the end of the day, and a steam mop every week.

                1. wow, another add for my cowering in fear thread. I try to clean the things i use as soon as I use them, and I try not to let the dishes sit in the sink for more than a day. Washing dishes includes cleaning the sink. I usually wipe down the whole counter once a week (if I have been cooking) and I clean the cooktop as needed, usually a quick wipe down when used, a more thorough cleaning every month or so. The fridge gets an interior wipe down once a year whether it needs it or not, the drawers are pulled out and rinsed on an occasional basis more often, especially when i notice that a piece of produce has gone bad or meat juices have been leaking. I rarely acknowledge that there is a top surface on my fridge, nor do I pull it out of it's niche to clean under or behind it. The shelves in my kitchen were wiped down when I moved in, and again after they fumigated the building about 3 years ago. I believe that disinfectant sprays are destroying our immune systems and they should only be used when you know you have a problem somewhere - yes, I'm serious about that. If i were in some way immune compromised I would no doubt change some habits. So I guess a bunch of you aren't coming to my house for dinner, but I'm in the Sam Fujisaka's magic house society.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    I don't use disinfectant sprays - biodegradable soap and hot water does it for me. If something's really stubborn salt is a great scrubber.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      I'm with you. I don't see the need -- and see potential harm -- in keeping my kitchen ultra clean. I have a house cleaner who cleans the kitchen (stove, cabinets, floors, counters) every other week. I clean the counters after (and sometimes before, depending on who else has been in the kitchen) I use them, and the sink every day or two (again, depending on usage). Basically, if a food-prep surface looks like it needs cleaning, I clean it. If I spill something, I or the dog clean it up. Dirty dishes don't sit around because there isn't room for them to do so (although my new roommate has the amusing habit of making herself tea and not drinking it -- at any given time there are an average of two partially consumed beverages and two tea pots on the counter, plus she makes rice several times a week and half the time it boils over -- I'm going to invest in a rice cooker simply to cut down on cleaning the stove). The fridge was completely emptied and cleaned a couple of months ago, and every year or so I pull it out and clean behind it. The next "deep clean" project is the blades on the ceiling fan, which haven't been cleaned since I painted about eight years ago and are incredibly grimy.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Those fan blades are a terrible problem for me, since the fan is in the dining area of the kitchen. Combine cooking grease, black cat hair and dust from outside and it is a prime spot for gunk. Unfortunately, the blade are wood and painted white poorly so some of the paint comes off each time I clean it. Husband took Brillo pad to it last week so now down to bare wood in some spots. Will have to take the fan apart to remove blades which I then want to spray paint gloss white so they'll be easier to keep clean........husband thinks it looks fine now because he's the one that has to take it apart and reassemble....when they're spinning you can't see it so maybe that's the answer for now.

                        1. re: escondido123

                          You really do have to take the blades off (take the screws out of the mounting brackets) to clean them. Then you can use really hot water and detergent and you don't have to scrub and ruin the finish. But yeah, I repainted the blades, too -- I already had the paint out so why not?

                    2. Don't feel bad. I don't think mine would pass a health inspection but I keep the area's that are in contact with food clean. That said, my floor can get bad,(never fails right after I clean it I spill or my dogs track in) my stove top gets greasy and dust in area's that are under the TV and on the top of the fridge. I work 40 hours a week, cook almost every night and a real meal from scratch plus have other hobbies I like. SO if I had the kitchen super clean, I'd never get any sleep or have time to relax. It would help if the family would help out.

                      1. I do clean the sink thoroughly at least once a day and all the countertops and anything we are cooking/serving in is pristine before it gets used. I am impressed with those of you who clean so well so frequently, the only people I know who have very clean kitchens pay someone else to keep them clean.

                        1. We have house cleaners that come every two weeks and get things very clean as far as floors, counters, stovetop, etc. are concerned.

                          Day-to-day, I am the primary kitchen cleaner, which fries my ass a bit considering there are three other adults (husband, brother, mother) who make messes in there routinely. My personal preference is to clean as I go, meaning I stop to wipe up drips, crumbs, etc. Since no one else seems to care, I have resigned myself to doing it. I will not, however, put others' dirty dishes into an empty dishwasher and I have had a several-day standoff with my mother over this very issue. (Sigh, clearly we have bigger issues than keeping the kitchen clean, but that's a whole different story.)

                          I use a lot of soap and water to clean and use antibacterial wipes for cleaning up after poultry or other raw meat has had contact with countertops or the sink. Otherwise, I try to not think about the germs that may be crawling around. I am definitely a split personality on this one--there is the side of me that would like to wipe everything down with strong antibacterial agents every time someone uses the kitchen for anything, and the other side believes as Kaimukiman does--too much antibacterial usage is not good for us.

                          Thankfully, we haven't had any serious illness as a result of improper cleaning or food storage habits to date so I am inclined to not overthink it...for now.

                          1. After reading everyone else's responses, I do want to clarify that the sink, counters, and stovetop are washed daily before bedtime. Spills are wiped up immediately--this includes mishaps in the oven and refrigerator.

                            1. I want to start off by saying that I work full time, cook 6 dinners a week, have no family members under the age of 18, and the only exposed horizontal surfaces are the countertop and the top of the fridge.

                              The countertop and the sink gets wiped everyday and after each spill. They get a good scrub every week with biodegradable detergent. We don't use any disinfectants. Other than a coffee machine and a roll of paper towels, there's absolutely nothing else on the countertop.

                              We wipe the door handles every week.

                              Top of the fridge is lined with newspaper. It gets replaced whenever I remember.

                              The wall oven gets a self-clean treatment once a year - we don't roast much. The racks are now a little bit sticky - I try not to think about it.

                              The microwave splatter lid lives in the (built-in) microwave. The only things I clean are the cover and the turn table. I haven't wiped the interior for a long long time.

                              Things have to be clean before they get stored away, either in the fridge or in the drawers. No ketchup hanging out from the cap, no sticky bottles, no oil running down on the sides. They all get a good wipe, or even rinse, before entering the shelves. We put plates underneath meat packets or anything that may potentially leak before entering the fridge. We pull out the shelves and bins to wash once a year.

                              Pantry drawers get cleaned based on what kind of stuff is being stored in them and how heavily they're being used. The spice and condiment drawers get the most attention.

                              We put the range hood screens into the dishwasher whenever necessary. We give the whole unit a good scrub 2-3 times a year.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: cutipie721

                                Ooh, I like that splatter lid idea, as I have a roommate who never remembers to cover anything she's heating in the MW (last week it was chili covered nachos, yesterday it was canned ravioli; she doesn't have the greatest cooking skills) and I'm sick to death of wiping my newish MW out every day. The thought of a splattered MW interior keeps me up at night. So, thanks, and now if I can get her to actually use the lid, you've just saved me a bunch of aggravation!

                                Other than that, I wipe, disinfect, wash down, de-grease, soak and scrub, mop and rinse the same as everyone else.

                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                  Update, got a MW vented splatter prevention lid for a few bucks at amazon and it changed my life, albeit in a small way. I keep it in the MW and have convinced everyone to use it All. The. Time.

                                  Now I just wash the lid and the turntable, not the entire MW, so cool. Thanks, cutipie721!

                              2. we left for the 4 day long weekend and DD and little ones were coming, also DD#1 with little ones and a few guests too. I spent the day before making sure things were nice and presentable.
                                what I found in my second sink that I keep a stainless steel cover over, was scary. I bleached/babbo'd/vinegared and scoured it until it was sparkling. tossed that sponge. it's the side without the disposal and tiny bits go there and have no where else to go. combo of the cover on and me not home all that much, it went undiscovered. I tossed the two stainless steel protectors, not worth it.

                                love my 6 burner stove but hate the cleanup. it's white, the grates are gray and spillage occurs.
                                major effort to clean it completely. hate it but love knowing it's done.

                                top of frig has always been a major annoyance and pet peeve. ultra tall husband, me being ultra short, he always swipes his finger on top of it and glares at me. my response is "you see it, you clean it" < aaaarrrgh!

                                husband has said for years, hire it out, the whole house. but so far, not interested in doing that.
                                my mom had hired help, my friends parents did too.

                                when the company came, we weren't here but DD said the house was lovely but smelled like I'd washed the massive amount of slate flooring with a moldy floor mop. it's the rope type Leanerman or whatever it's called, anyway, I had. tossed it in trash can when she told me that and bought a "Shark" from WallyWorld. today I'll try it out

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: iL Divo

                                  Here's a strange fact about me - I love, and I mean LOVE buying new cleaning crap, especially mops/swiffers/o'cedar promist thingy, microfiber pads... There's always such a feeling of hope, much like the first kiss in a new relationship - all bright and shiny and exciting and full of promise.

                                  Until it ends up in the laundry room, just another plain old damned mop.

                                2. wow ...it just occured to me I must be a clean freak...I take everything out of my fridge weekly and wash down the entire thing. I use the self cleaner on the oven once a month. I clean up after every meal but a more intensive whole kitchen clean every week...including microwave and TOP of the fridge....lol
                                  I also clean my whole houses baseboards and molding by hand every three months....

                                  1. I live in Dubai and we have a Filipino maid. She cleans the kitchen daily. The floors are mopped and all counter and appliance surfaces are wiped down every evening as her last task for the day, after she's done the dishes.

                                    The stove, oven, grill and hood are scrubbed free from grease or food debris twice a week.

                                    The refrigerator shelves are wiped down once a week and every few months she does an thorough scrub of the refrigerator and freezer.

                                    The inside of the cabinets are wiped clean once a week.

                                    It may seem like a lot of work but if the kitchen is already clean it only takes a few minutes to keep it clean every evening. Less work probably than doing a thorough cleaning once a week or every other week or once monthly.

                                    1. It is good to have a loyal and competent cleaning woman.

                                      1. Every Monday a professional cleaning crew comes into our house. They do the complete insides of ovens, microwave, refrigerators. Wash counters, cabinets, counters floors, etc.

                                        In between, my 14 year old daughter is a clean freak. She isn't happy unless she is the one to load and unload the dishwasher, clean the counters, cooking surfaces, windex the glass topped table etc.

                                        I am responsible for cleaning pots, pans, baking sheets and sheet pans, anything that doesn't go in the dishwasher or needs steel wool.

                                        My wife tends to clean all the small electrics.

                                        Once a month, I take apart the filters and grates on the stove hood, over the SubZeros, etc and clean them. The lighting fixtures are dusted weekly, but globes are removed and washed about every 6 weeks.

                                        1. We keep the kitchen clean - at least superficially.

                                          If ever you visit us, take my advice and don't open any cupboard doors. Or the fridge or freezer.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Harters

                                            Thanks Harters, after the couple posts before you I was beginning to think everyone cleaned thoroughly. Counters, sink, stovetop, floor--the rest is catch as catch can.

                                            1. re: escondido123

                                              Ditto. My answer to the titular questions are: me and not very.

                                              On the other hand, I rarely get colds, flu, or indigestion, so I can handle it.

                                              1. re: 512window

                                                Harters, you are welcome to my kitchen anytime. You'll find it sorta clean, but we've never killed a guest yet. I can't imagine cleaning the total fridge weekly, etc, etc. And careful opening those cupboard doors...things may fall on top of your head. Works for us, though.

                                                1. re: pine time

                                                  There was a NY Times article where a writer had the Health Dept come to her home and tell her if she'd pass inspection--it was for the article. The inspector said everything was fine, but then saw the woman had a cat and said she wouldn't eat in the kitchen because she had a cat. I have 4 cats.....................................................

                                                  here's the link to the article, a great read


                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                    And yet, people have managed to live with cats in their homes with apparently no significant health consequences for hundreds if not thousands of years. (I personally believe that cats are highly toxic, but it's not because they track germs around the house).

                                                    I think there's a huge difference between theoretical risk and actual risk. Yes, cats can track bacteria from their litterboxes (and other places) around your house, including your kitchen. But aside from the "ick" factor it would seem this simply doesn't cause any measurable incidence of disease in literally hundreds of millions of real-world "experiments." The same with germs on your money, germs on your subway seat, germs on doorknobs, etc. Yes there are germs there, but if those items were disease vectors in any serious way they would have shown up as such long ago.

                                          2. I do, mostly.

                                            Chalk it up to most men's disability to see dirt. As in thinking that spot on the tile might *just* be part of the pattern, so why scrub any harder?

                                            Granite counter tops here which will get a wiping with their super-special spray probably once a day - either after cooking or after dinner (as it is just the two of us, we almost always eat at the kitchen counter). The stove (ceramic stove top) gets wiped when I don't like the look of it or guests are coming, whichever comes first.

                                            Dishes are divided equally between my man and me. I mop just about every full moon, which is to say rarely -- i HATE mopping so much, I sometimes do what I consider "single spot removal". Why I feel that getting down on my knees and taking care of single splatters instead of just mopping the whole damn floor -- the kitchen is VERY small -- well, I haven't quite figured it out yet.

                                            The freezer and fridge are generally fairly clean, as are drawers and pantries. But I don't look too closely :-)

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              "men's disability to see dirt"
                                              my husband doesn't have an inability to see dirt/he's a man and sees it much more&bettet than I do.

                                              at friends one night for dinner, she asked for the butter dish (it was empty) so I went in her kitchen
                                              to get a cube. noticed her drop in stove top, white and sparkling. was impressed.

                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                Congratulations on your husband's visual abilities. An exception to the rule perhaps.

                                                I haven't a clue what the rest of your post means.

                                              2. re: linguafood

                                                Re: Men's disability to see dirt - my hubby will enthusiastically wipe the countertop without taking any notice at all of: The front edge of the counter, the corners/edges/underneath things, the area behind the faucet, the top edge/front/handle of the stove, and especially, whether or not his activity did indeed get anything clean! If he wipes up the general area in a general fashion, he thinks: "job done!"

                                                I guess this sweet guy is more into the activity and less aware of the actual results....

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  Yep. I love my man dearly, but cleaning is definitely not his forte.

                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                    I hate cleaning, but I like clean!!!

                                                2. re: linguafood

                                                  Right there with you every step of the way on mopping. Now that you mention, it does seem funny why we do that...except it's quicker to do the "single spot removal" than haul out the bucket and mop. And then my tile extends into the sunroom and hall and I'd want to clean ALL OF IT if I was going to that much trouble, HA HA. So "SSR" prevails! Damn, I think my mop is calling me. I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I CAN'T HEAR YOU! LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!

                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                    I don't even mop unless I really, REALLY have to. I got that stupid-ass swiffer thing which is a massive PITA. That scrubby part on their wipes they have for scrubbing? It doesn't even touch the floor, regardless of how you put it on. AAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHHH.

                                                    HATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATE cleaning.

                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                      We spot clean the floor when needed and the hubby brings out a cheap little floor steamer occasionally.

                                                3. I'm the cook in my household, so I take care of general post-cooking cleanup in terms of wiping up spills, cleaning countertops, etc.

                                                  My partner is a neatnik so he washes the floors a couple times a week, wipes down the stove/fridge and generally tidies up.

                                                  We have a houscleaning service come by about once a month for a heavy-duty clean. They do stuff that wouldn't occur to me, like clean inside the microwave and dust the light fixtures.

                                                  1. I keep my kitchen (and house) very clean. I have the time to do so and enjoy a clean home (and don't mind cleaning). We're also minimalists, so I don't have clutter (including kitchen counters), so that helps. I have had help in the past, but TBH, they didn't clean as well as I wanted them to. Floors are done a couple times a week, the fridge is cleaned out once a week, the oven cleaned as needed, and the counters and sink are always clean, cabinets and fridge tops are done about once a month. Tidy and clean spaces keep things less stressful. I don't like to use chemicals around the kiddo, so I use vinegar, baking soda, Murphy's Oil Soap, and Borax for cleaning and it all seems to do the job.

                                                    1. I used to always have a cleaning person every other week, but haven't in quite a few years. I try to be really careful and not make a mess, and so if I can avoid spills in the fridge or bubble over stuff in the oven, that makes a big difference. I also try to not let things splatter all over the stove, and clean up asap so it doesn't get cooked on.

                                                      When I get into cleaning, it is hands and knees on the floor scrubbing. Unfortunately I don't always have the time, so I always just try to clean as I go.

                                                      1. I do. It is not easy with 3 St. Poodles running and out and my DH is oblivious to spots and glop and flour on the floor etc. Bless him he does do the laundry and put it away.