7 Kitchen Items You’re Probably Cleaning Too Often (and Causing Damage)

published Oct 7, 2023
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a hand wiping down a stainless steel refrigerator
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Cleaning has simply never been my forte. I buy products that catch my eye with promises to “deep clean” countertops or make your floors “sparkle” — it never once occurred to me that certain products or methods could actually damage items and surfaces in my kitchen. I learned this the hard way when I tried to use regular old soap on my husband’s prized cast iron skillet (which I’ll truly never live down). To prevent any future travesties, I decided to dig deeper and ask experts which surfaces and items I don’t have to worry about cleaning as regularly. 

Here are seven items and surfaces in your kitchen cleaning experts say you can get away with cleaning less often. And as much as I look for any excuse not to clean — in this case, cleaning too much can actually do more harm than good.

1. Countertops and floors

According to Delah Gomasi, CEO of MaidForYou, the main surfaces in your kitchen that can be damaged from cleaning too often are kitchen countertops and floors. “If your countertops are made from natural stone, they’re susceptible to degradation and damage over time. This can be from food spills or improper use of non-pH neutral cleaning products,” Gomasi explains. “This applies especially for eco-friendly or DIY cleaning products like vinegar and for natural stone-based floors in your kitchen and sensitive hardwood flooring.”

2. Cast iron skillets

Cast iron skillets easily lose their seasoning, or anti-stick properties, when you wash them too often or too aggressively. To keep yours clean, Aaron Christensen of Homeaglow House Cleaning Services recommends wiping it down with a paper towel after use, or rinsing it with hot water and then letting it dry. To remove tough chunks, you can try scrubbing with coarse salt, setting the pan on to boil with water in it, or washing with very diluted dishwashing liquid. “Should you accidentally clean your cast iron cookware too much, don’t worry — it’s not the end of the world. Cast iron skillets are very tolerant and aren’t easily ruined,” says Christensen. “Just season it again by coating it with oil and heating it in a hot oven for half an hour. Or you can be lazy and simply wait for it to build up again as you cook your evening meals.” Check out our showdown for finding the best cast iron cleaning method here.

3. Pizza stones 

Actually, pizza stones don’t need to be cleaned at all, according to Christensen. “You can let the heat of the oven burn off any pizza debris that builds up. If burnt-on chunks bother you, you can scrape them off with anything metal or a paste of one-to-one baking soda and water,” he says. “Just be sure to never wash with dishwashing liquid or use a lot of water. The dish soap taste will come back in your pizzas and the excess water will prevent your pizzas from becoming crispy.” And who wants that?

4. Wooden cutting boards

You would think with all the wear and tear wooden cutting boards go through with chopping and slicing that they would require extra love and attention when it comes to cleaning — but it’s actually the opposite. “Avoid soaking them in water for long periods or tossing them in the dishwasher,” suggests Maria Mooney, cleaning expert at Truly Free. “Instead, use warm soapy water and a gentle scrub to keep them clean and avoid warping or cracking.”

5. Stainless steel appliances

While stainless steel appliances can take a beating, they can still get scratched or damaged if you’re not careful. Mooney suggests you avoid using harsh cleaners or rough scrubbing pads that can leave behind unsightly marks. “Opt for gentle, non-abrasive cleaners, or even mild soap and water to keep them shining like new,” she says.

6. Granite or marble

To keep your granite or marble countertops in good shape, be sure to avoid cleaning with vinegar, lemon juice, or anything acidic. “That will etch the surface and can quickly eat into your countertop,” says Christensen. “To keep stone countertops clean, simply wipe them down with a soapy sponge after you’ve finished cooking or washing the dishes.”

7. Cabinet interiors

Maintaining clean cabinets is essential for overall kitchen cleanliness, but the interiors likely don’t require frequent cleaning unless you have spills or sticky situations happening inside, says Mooney. A good wipe-down every few months should do the trick. But if you see signs of mold or pests, of course, that should be addressed immediately.