10 Reasons You Should Keep a Can of Compressed Air in Your Kitchen

updated Nov 19, 2020
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Someone holding container of compressed air.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

As you start thinking about end-of-year cleaning tasks, there’s a tool you should add to your kitchen arsenal — one you don’t normally find in the cleaning aisle. If you have a computer, though, you almost certainly have it in the house: canned air.

The cylindrical can with the long, thin nozzle was designed for directing a forceful blast at computer keyboards or circuit boards, to easily dispel dust and dirt from delicate components. But that same pressure can be super useful in a kitchen’s hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.

Note: “Air” is something of a misnomer, as those metal spray cans are usually filled with a mix of nitrogen and other gases that are not the same as the oxygen we usually breathe. They are “canned” by being compressed under enough pressure to turn them into liquids (which is why holding the can upside down and spraying produces fluid rather than a gas, and also why you should never shake canned air). 

A spray releases the pressure and turns the liquid into gas. It also produces a thermodynamic side effect of rapid cooling, which you’ve probably experienced if you’ve sprayed one for more than a few-second burst. (The can will get cold and the chill can be enough to cause frostbite, so it’s best to use short blasts from the can!) And of course, you’ll want to be careful of the spray kicking up dust or small particles that can get in your eyes. 

As long as you follow those precautions, though, compressed air can be an excellent cleaning tool for so many of your kitchen’s dirty little secrets. Here are some of my favorite things to clean with compressed air.

1. Toaster/toaster oven

There are always leftover bits of toast and everything bagel mix that don’t make their way into the crumb tray, and can’t be reached by ordinary utensils. Making sure the device is unplugged, hold it over the trash or sink and blast those bits out of there.

2. Refrigerator coils

Not many people follow this, but the hard-to-reach dust bunny collector on the back of your fridge is supposed to be cleaned every six months (more if you have shedding pets) to keep it running properly. Compressed air’s long nozzle is perfect for it.

3. Electrical outlets

Unlike other rooms, kitchens have constant food debris and it can make its way into open sockets. A quick puff of air will dispel any dirt. Just don’t put the straw or nozzle IN the socket.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

4. Coffee grinders

I hate the mess my burr grinder makes almost as much as I love the delicious, life-sustaining brew it produces. Canned air is great for blowing stray grounds off the counter, and cleaning the grinder out when switching bean varieties (or if you occasionally use it to grind spices). 

5. Blinds and curtains

Ever try to clean blinds with a sponge? It just smears dust around and makes things even grimier. Compressed air blows the stuff off the slats. It also works on curtains and valances, so you don’t have to go to the trouble of taking them down and tossing them in the washer every time.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

6. Shelves

My kitchen has lovely glass-fronted shelving where I display my crystal and stemware. A few puffs of air is way easier than clearing every shelf, wiping, and repeating. And it keeps my glassware from looking dusty and dull. If you have open shelving in your kitchen, you’ll definitely want to make a note of this.

7. Inside drawers

Utensil drawers tend to gather crumbs, the paper remains of garlic cloves, and other food debris. I struggle to remove them, even with a good hand vac, but compressed air does the job. 

8. Crisper drawers

This may be my favorite way to use it. My refrigerator is placed by a wall so the door doesn’t open quite enough for me to fully remove and scrub the drawers that hold my produce. So I direct compressed air underneath and between the drawers to get all crumbs, onion paper, etc. out.

9. Vacuum cleaners/filters

Don’t forget that your cleaners need occasional cleaning, too! Vacuums, even robotic ones and hand vacs, have filters and brush heads that collect dust and won’t function optimally unless you clean them. Hold the filters over a garbage can and blast away.

10. The crevice between the stove and counter

Ever stop to notice how many crumbs collect between your stovetop and your counter? (Or around the lip to your sink?) Use compressed air to blow the crumbs out and then sweep them up.

Do you use compressed air in your kitchen? Do you have any other smart ideas to add to this list? Share them in the comments below!