So many kitchens double as other rooms in the house that it’s sometimes tough to keep them as clean as you should for food prep. Plus, if you live in hard water areas, keeping surfaces shiny and limescale-free can be an uphill battle, and where there’s rough limescale, it’s even harder to keep things clean. If you start cooking when your kitchen is clean, you’ll enjoy it so much more, as well as being able to find everything that you need.
Wash your hands
It goes without saying that your hands should be scrupulously clean before you start to cook, and while you cook, keep washing them, especially if you’ve handled raw meat, poultry or fish or muddy vegetables. Oily hands are hard to work with, so if your hands get slippery, wash them with soap to break the oil down.
Read more about how to avoid food poisoning.
Fruit and veg
If you’re cooking fruit or veg long enough to kill any nasties off, then you might not need, or want, to peel them first – just make sure they’re well washed. If you’re eating them raw, you want to be extra thorough and peel things that have been in contact with soil. You can keep the washed peelings to make stock or veg crisps with.
Regularly wipe down kitchen surfaces with soap and hot water, especially after preparing poultry, muddy veg, raw meat or fish. Small splashes can be undetectable to the eye so play it safe by wiping down everything.
Cloths and tea towels
Tea towels and cloths should be changed every day – especially if the kitchen is a family home and you don’t know what else they could be wiping up. Children often play fast and loose with the concept of ‘cleaning up’, a quick swipe through that accidental milk spill on the floor and then the towel goes back on the hook. Putting cloths and towels through a hot wash in the washing machine will clean them thoroughly.
Keep a clean cloth nearby to wipe up any spills and use it regularly, rinsing it each time. Wash knives as you use them, to save accidentally using a dirty one for chopping something else.
Once the washing-up is done or the dishwasher is stacked, clean down the sink. Use vinegar if you like, it gets rid of grease very well. Keeping the sink clean should also help to stop any build-up of dirt and smells in the drain – if this does happen, put a handful of soda crystals plus a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda at the mouth of the drain, then pour over a kettle of boiling water. Stand back and watch the action – it’ll fizz madly for a few seconds. Pour over a second kettle of boiling water and your drain should smell fresh again. You can buy enzyme sticks to put down the drain once a month that should stop this happening again.
Unless you are completely on top of your kitchen chores, your kettle may have a slightly grim, furred up interior. You don’t need to invest in descaler if you have vinegar to hand. As it’s a weak acid, it’s perfect for cleaning, disinfecting and breaking down limescale and mineral deposits. Add 250ml neat white vinegar to a kettle and leave it for an hour, you should be able to see it fizzing as it works, then top up with water and bring to a boil, then leave for another hour – this should remove any surface scale. Drain and then rinse the kettle well with cold water until any vinegar smell has gone. If you have a chrome kettle you could also use vinegar on a cloth or newspaper to buff up the outside.
Tiles can get limescale deposits on them, you can remove this with lemon or vinegar. Try using a squeezed-out lemon half to rub it off, or for more stubborn deposits, dribble over some vinegar and wait for a minute before rubbing it. Do make sure your tiles are robust enough to take cleaning before trying this. Granite is best cleaned with a very fine grade of wire wool and nothing else, do a test patch somewhere hidden first to make sure it doesn’t leave a mark.
We recommend you always wipe your oven once its cooled after using, but if not, coat all inside surfaces with a thick paste of bicarbonate of soda and water. Leave overnight, then scrub with warm water and a scourer.
Invest in a steam cleaner if you can, these are really thorough and lift off dirt and stains. If you don’t have one, then use a mop head that can be removed and washed in the washing machine or very thoroughly in the sink.
Short on time? See our quick tips for how to clean your kitchen in just 10 minutes.