Low-Stress Spring Cleaning Tips for a Post-Pandemic Life

How to Clean Better, Not More

black woman cleaning kitchen

Spring marks the time of the year when the days become longer and the weather more inviting. Though perhaps that extra light reveals the splatter stains on our walls or leaving the windows open reminds us how stuffy our space can become. So each year, we roll up our sleeves and give our homes a good spring cleaning. That said, kitchens provide their own set of unique challenges, largely because they are one of the most used spaces in the home. This guide lays out an easy cleaning guide for a low-stress approach, so you can truly enjoy the benefits of a clean, functional kitchen.

Upgrade Your Storage

How to Organize Pantry Items

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

A kitchen with a well thought out storage plan is a more efficient and inviting cooking environment. It’s helpful to keep two themes in mind while organizing your space: how often you use each item and where you most often use it. For example, those items that are in heavy rotation can be kept near the stove, while those you only use once in a blue can be stored farther away. Also, consider additional storage options and which may be a good fit for your kitchen.

Among our favorites include wire rack shelves, which not only provide more storage space but also make things visible and easily accessible. Floating shelves are great for those who have small kitchens or who want their furniture to keep a low profile, while installing a pegboard to hang your utensils on is a helpful method to keeping things tidy. As for food or loose items, check out The Spruce container collection for your pantry or fridge. They’re stackable and designed to keep produce fresh, but you can use them for just about anything.

Go Green

Vinegar, baking soda and cleaning products on a wood table.

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The idea of maintaining a clean, functional space is changing. While caustic chemical-based cleaning products were once the norm, the public is realizing how damaging these are not only to our own health, but to the environment as well. Instead, it’s helpful to understand some cleaning fundamentals so you can opt for safer products and methods.

Generally speaking, effective cleaners fall on one of two extremes: acidic or alkaline. For example, spraying down surfaces with a white vinegar or citrus-based solution is a great, cost-effective option. If you want to break up stickier or grease-based stains, an alkaline substance like baking soda paired with a heavy scrub-pad can be your two best friends. Still, there’s much more to learn on this topic so if you’re into the idea, you may want to dive deeper into a comprehensive guide on DIY cleaning solutions. Lastly, consider the cleaning tools you use and decide which may need to change. For example, replace bottled products with bars or reusable containers where able, and try biodegradable sponges instead of plastic-based ones.

Learn How to Store Foods

fridge organized using The Spruce and Lowe's organization line

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

We all know that the best way to achieve a clean, well-organized space is to keep it that way in the first place. To this end, it’s helpful to know how best to store your food so it doesn’t turn prematurely and stink up your fridge or counter. For items like squash, onions, and garlic, store them in a dark, cool place such as the cupboard or on a countertop that’s protected from direct light. For tubers and potatoes, first ensure that they’re not stored alongside any other vegetable or fruit. Next, you'll want to cover them in a breathable mesh bag or in a cardboard box and keep them in a dark, cool place like a cellar. For greens, first wash them if needed and lay them out to dry on a towel. Once they’re ready, store them in the fridge with a paper or cloth towel covering as much surface area of your greens as possible. This should keep them fresh for up to 10 days. Of course, this just scratches the surface on the topic, so read this food storage guide if you’d like to learn more.

Consider a New Paint Job

White paint dripping from small paint brush over bucket

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Normally, scuffs, splatters, and other stains build up over a long period of time so it’s common for them to go unnoticed. Though if you’re doing a deep-clean of your kitchen, you’ll absolutely benefit from a scrub-down and a paint touch-up. One product commonly used for particularly sticky stains is trisodium phosphate, or TSP. Although far safer than many other cleaning products, you can also use baking soda which like TSP, is alkaline but it’s a gentler substance overall. If you’d like to repaint your entire kitchen, we say go for it. Just remember that glossier paints tend to release stains more easily than matte paints.

Clean Your Equipment

Cut lemons on cutting board with bowls of salt on white surface

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

We're talking everything from the fridge to the microwave to your cutting boards. It's easy to do a simple wipedown every now and then, but there comes a time when you need to put in some muscle to feel rejuvenated for cooking success. First off, never put your wooden cutting board in the dishwasher. Instead, sprinkle the board with coarse salt, scrub using the fleshy side of a halved lemon, let sit for 5 minutes, then rinse. Second, sheet pans are notorious for caked-on grime, but every now and then deserve a proper scrub to shine again—we have tips for that. Lastly, don't let your microwave, stovetop, and oven look like a paintball tournament of pasta sauce and grease. We've said it before and we'll say it again, lemon or vinegar-bases are great for this.