Think of your absolute least favorite chores. Odds are, at least one of them takes place in the kitchen. Whether you dread tackling your constant piles of dishes, taking out that heaping bag of trash, or deep-cleaning all the burned-on residue from your oven, keeping your cooking and eating space clean and hygienic can be time consuming, not to mention a little gross from time to time.
But kitchen chores are important chores, so any tips for the right mindset and routine can make it all less overwhelming—and even a little bit fun.
To get inspired for better kitchen-cleaning habits in the new year, we tapped one of our favorite TIkTok influencers, Texas-based professional cleaner Vanesa Amaro, who is a spokesperson for Clorox and Scrub Daddy. Just in time for New Year’s resolutions, we asked Amaro to share her favorite tips, tricks, and tools for keeping your kitchen spic and span, without the stress.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by a messy kitchen. Why is it so important to keep this space clean, hygienic, and orderly?
It’s definitely easy to get overwhelmed, but we need to remember that the kitchen is where you prepare everything you are putting into your body, so you want to always ensure that the space is clean and germ-free—not only for yourself but for any family, friends, and even pets who will be in the house! My grandma always told me that the kitchen is the heart of the home, so we gotta make sure to keep it clean.
When it comes to cleaning the kitchen, which chore or routine makes the most impact, and why?
In just one day, kitchen counters endure many different kinds of messes from crumbs, pasta sauce spills, grease splatters, and more; on top of that, they can see a ton of germ traffic with mail, food preparation, and other items that may bring bacteria into the house. So, cleaning and disinfecting them often and properly has a huge impact on your kitchen.
Personally, I love to use Clorox® Disinfecting All Purpose Cleaner to wipe down my counters a few times daily, including any time before I cook. If you’re looking to quickly disinfect high-touch surfaces like your refrigerator door, cabinet handles, microwave door, and light switches, you can use Clorox® Disinfecting Mist. For any food contact surfaces, I always rinse those down with warm water after disinfecting and let them air dry. I also like taking out the trash daily to prevent from having any bad smells.
What is your favorite kitchen tool that you always keep around for daily cleaning and deep cleans?
My go-to are the Scrub Daddy sponges. One really cool element of Scrub Daddy sponges is that they change texture depending on the water temperature you run them under. So, they stay firm when I use them with cold water to scrape away at tough messes and soften when used with warm water, making them perfect for cleaning dishes. Plus, you can throw them in with your dishwasher when it’s time to clean them, and they also don’t scratch and will never hold onto odors.
I would also recommend that everyone has a set of reusable microfiber towels on hand when cleaning. With my reusable cleaning tools like sponges and microfiber cloths, I like to actually color-code my supplies, and use separate tools for each area of my home to avoid using the same towels for the kitchen and bathroom, for example, and accidentally cross-contaminating and making your home accidentally dirtier when you’re trying to clean.
What is your favorite kitchen cleaning product that you always keep around for daily cleaning and deep-cleans?
I like to use multi-purpose products, like Clorox® Clean-Up® Cleaner + Bleach and Dawn Platinum Powerwash Dish Spray, that can be used with many different cleaning techniques and on a variety of surfaces, especially in a space like my kitchen. Using products that are safe for use on multiple surfaces means that I can clean my counters, fridge, kitchen table, stove top, and more without having to switch products as I go. I like a product that is versatile and easy to use, because there’s no need to buy a cleaning product for every surface.
What is one pantry item that people should always keep around for DIY cleaning, and what's your favorite way to use it?
Vinegar is a must have for me when it comes to DIY cleaning. I love to use it to clean the build-up on my sink faucet. I fill a Ziploc bag with vinegar, and use a rubber band to secure it around the faucet (like this). I will let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes then use a bristle brush and Dawn dish soap to scrub any remaining grime. It’s not only easy to do, but most of us have these items in our home.
You can also use vinegar with dish soap to clean the drain of your sink—remove the drain stopper and pour vinegar and dish soap in. Then run hot water followed by the garbage disposal.
Cleaning a kitchen can be time-consuming. Do you have any tips or tricks for doing the job more efficiently?
For those who are extra busy, I suggest setting aside even a few minutes each day for quick cleans to help maintain your home—especially in a space like the kitchen that can feel endlessly messy. Before cooking, I like to wipe down my counters and stove top with Clorox® Disinfecting All Purpose Cleaner or Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes—which are safe to use on a variety of surfaces so I don’t have to worry about switching products as I go—to clean and disinfect. I will then wipe down any food contact surfaces I’ve disinfected with some warm water and let them air dry. During and post-cooking, prioritize getting anything on the counters put away, whether back in your shelves or pantry or into the dishwasher, and wipe down your counters once more to pick up any spills, crumbs, and grease.
You can even set a timer for 30 minutes and clean whatever you can in that time, or make a cleaning schedule to help you keep organized and never miss a thing. In general, it is especially helpful to have a cleaning schedule set up to keep yourself organized! Everyone’s cleaning schedule will look different, and that’s okay! It should be a fit for your household needs and daily routine. For rooms that need extra attention like the kitchen, make sure you give yourself time once a week to get a deep clean in and give the area some much-needed love.
What do you think is the most challenging appliance to clean, and what's your best advice for cleaning it well and efficiently?
When it comes to cleaning your oven, I think many people don’t even know where to start. For your oven itself, preheat your oven to 200° F and then turn off and allow to cool. Spray down your oven with an oven cleaner—I like Easy-Off’s Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner—and leave it for about 10 minutes. Use a sponge and dual-sided scraper like this to lightly scrape off burnt-on messes; you can use SOS steel wool pads to scrub down the oven racks. Finally, wipe down the entire oven with Dawn dish soap to ensure there is no cleaning product residue left throughout the oven. Gloves are a must for this chore, and I even like to wear a mask because the fumes can be overwhelming.
Glass stove tops can often develop a crust from cooking spills and splatters around the outer edges of the different burners, which is hard to remove. I recommend getting a dual-sided scraper to lift this crust up before spraying and then wiping down the surface with Clorox® Clean-Up® Cleaner + Bleach.
Kitchen cleaning can be a drag. What is your advice for making cleaning more fun, so you don't dread it?
The hardest part about cleaning is getting started, so don’t psych yourself out! We make it a point to clean as a family. That takes all the load from one person, and it’s shared amongst all the family, therefore it becomes easier and faster to clean. Make it a shareable experience with your household, and I would say finding yourself a good cleaning playlist is key. With the right music playing, you can definitely “find your groove” while cleaning.