I like my kitchen clean. And I don't mean clean, like, a no-dishes-in-the-sink kind of clean. When I say "clean," I mean it in a deeply serious sort of way. I want my kitchen to blind you. I want it to feel so clean that you wouldn't think twice about putting something into your mouth — even if it fell on the floor.
You see, my obsessive cleaning trait was late onset. Growing up, I took the pristine cleanliness of my parents' kitchen for granted. I thought marble just stayed clean and sparkly on its own. And then I went to college, and quickly learned that I wanted things to be clean, but that I had absolutely no idea how to get things that way. But I was determined to have my kitchen look like the impeccably fresh one I grew up with, so I began to teach myself.
I was really, really bad at it in the beginning. I only wiped down what I could see. I learned, the hard way, that you need to sweep before you mop. I threw away rotting food that got lost in a too-crowded fridge. But over the years, I got better. I got into making my own cleaning solutions. I diligently scrubbed the floors. But there was always something missing. My kitchen still didn't shine.
It was clean, I knew it. But why didn't it feel clean? Clean in that blinding way I so desperately wanted? So, about two years ago, when I was still living in Brooklyn, I Googled "house cleaners near me." I found one and asked her to bring all her own cleaning supplies. When she arrived, I asked if I could watch her. (It wasn't as creepy as it sounds, I swear it!)
She explained everything she was doing as she went, but it was everything I had already learned. She swept. She Swiffered. The floors looked pristine, but the place still felt … dull. And then, just as I was beginning to think I had wasted $100, she took a clean microfiber cloth and wrapped it around her finger, crouched down, and wiped down the baseboards.
Let me say this again. She wiped down the baseboards.
It took her all of two minutes, and my kitchen suddenly shined brighter than Kim Kardashian's diamond. I couldn't believe it. It was like pounds of grime had been lifted (because it was), and I could finally breathe. I was ecstatic.
I realize this tip may seem super obvious to some of you. And now that I know about it, I can't believe it took me so long to notice. But baseboards (that narrow wooden board running along the base of an interior wall) are an area that we frequently forget about. Between obsessively sweeping and wiping down the counters, it's all too easy to forget about that little ledge, quietly collecting dust and crumbs, waiting to take down all your sparkly clean kitchen fantasies.
Now, every Sunday (that's when I do my weekly deep clean), I add in this one tiny step. Every week might be a little excessive; you could probably get away with every other week. Like everything, the more often you do it, the easier it is each time. If this is your first time getting down with your baseboards and the grime is particularly stubborn, and there are splashes of tomato paste or olive oil or who knows what on there, you can follow wiping it down with a spritz of cleaner.
The trick is to first use something fibrous and dry to pick up the dust, like a paper towel or dish rag. Microfiber cloths work best. If you spray cleaning solution directly onto dust and try to wipe it off, the dust will start to "rope" and smoosh around, and you'll be left with a bigger mess than when you started. Also, if you have a standing trash can or pet bowls, make sure to pay particular attention around those areas. Dust always collects most around objects.
All in all, that was the best $100 I've ever spent.