I Gave My Kitchen a Deep Clean Over the Course of a Week — Here’s How It Went

updated Mar 20, 2021
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Side view of smiling young housewife with dispenser in hand washing window glass in kitchen during routine work at home
Credit: Stocksy | BONNINSTUDIO

I’m not always a fan of spring cleaning. After a long winter, stuck inside, I’m usually ready to leave my apartment and get out and about! This year? Well, this year is different. While I spent lots of last year tackling quarantine-induced organizing projects, I also drowned my sorrows in cooking, which meant that my kitchen had some grimy tales to tell. My sock drawer has never looked better, but my pantry was a mess, my fridge was covered in weird shriveled-herb ooze, and my backsplash looked like a crime scene from marinara splatters. 

It’s just now spring, as you’re reading this, but I already tackled my bout of seasonal cleaning. (I just couldn’t wait any longer!) The single best tip I can give you? Don’t do it all in one day. Because that’s a good way to burn out, halfway through, without finishing anything at all. No. Instead, I did a little bit every day for a full week. And actually, it was more like six days — the last day was spent enjoying the fruits of my labor. The first day wasn’t that much work either! Here’s my spring cleaning diary for this year.

Day 1: Gather supplies.

I checked the broom closet for the supplies I like to use: dish soap, antibacterial cleaner, dish gloves, rags, an old toothbrush, baking soda, white vinegar, trash bags, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (they really are magic!). I was running low on the Magic Erasers, so I booked it to the nearby bodega that sells them. While I was hunting down the supplies, I pulled them out and put them on the counter. I figured it’d be hard to back out the next day if I woke up with everything staring me in the face!

I also did some online browsing for kitchen organization accessories that would inspire me to tear apart the kitchen and put it back in better form. I settled on some cabinet risers, and won a vintage condiment carousel on eBay to hold my favorite seasonings. Further prep involved making an epic playlist and choosing a snazzy costume. My grandma’s vintage apron, a colorful kerchief to tie up my hair, some red lipstick à la Lucille Ball, and chartreuse clogs were all part of the get-up. 

Credit: Aliza Gans

Day 2: Tackle the fridge and freezer.

I’d been putting this one off because festering food isn’t my favorite — especially when it’s my recently moved-out roommate’s. There was no way to cheat it: I slipped on my gloves, filled a bucket with hot water and a squirt of dish soap, and went to town. I pulled out anything I could (it was cold enough to put food on the fire escape, although I think the fire marshal would have preferred that I used a cooler instead) and washed the shelves and drawers in the sink. What couldn’t come out was cleaned in the fridge top to bottom, so that dirty water wouldn’t drip onto what I’d already cleaned. 

I had an idea to sprinkle the drawers with baking soda to help absorb odors and drips before lining them with fresh newspaper. I noticed the water filter needed changing, too, so I ordered one while I recovered. Thankfully, this ended up being the cleaning project I immediately appreciated the most. The milk looked so majestic on its spotless glass shelf.

Credit: Aliza Gans

Day 3: Scrub appliances and trash cans.

I popped the filter out of the dishwasher (yes, I’m lucky enough to have a dishwasher!) and brushed it clean with a toothbrush. I’m glad I wore gloves because I found shards of glass in there! The trash can lids were pretty crusty — as were the toaster oven tray and microwave plate. They all went into the dishwasher along with the knobs on my range, which felt pretty sticky.

While the dishwasher ran, I gave the appliances a nice rag bath with more soapy water and pulled the range out from the wall, because things always fall behind there. I found a stray spoon, spatula, and a ridiculous amount of crumbs that could attract any number of pests. With the range back in place, I swept up the crumbs inside the oven and coated it with a paste of baking soda and water. Finally, I sprinkled the trash bins with baking soda, which keeps the bottom dry and odorless, before lining them with new bags. 

When the dishwasher cycle finished, I popped the clean plate into the microwave, the crumb tray into the toaster, and the lids back on the trash cans. I wiped some mold off the seal of the dishwasher, then ran another cycle, empty this time with two cups of vinegar to flush out any mineral buildup. I also splashed a little vinegar water into my electric kettle before letting it boil to remove any buildup in there. Wow, that really made the place smell better — like cleaning product vinaigrette! I enjoyed the rest of the day and then I spritzed the oven with vinegar and cleaned out the baking soda paste and a year of grease and grime. Today was a lot of work but it was so worth it.

Credit: Aliza Gans

Day 4: Organize cabinets and drawers.

My cabinet risers were delivered, so I was ready to get busy. I worked my way from the upper cabinets to lower ones and ended up moving things around (turns out, keeping chocolate above the toaster is a bad idea). There’s also the No-Man’s Land that exists above my cabinets where I store things I rarely use like a veggie spiralizer, Bundt pans, and a giant food processor. I took them down and wiped off the sticky film they had accumulated (I used warm, soapy water and a Magic Eraser). I found dusty pantry moth traps that lost their tack and made a note to replace them. Drawers needed to be reorganized, too, and the flatware holder was rife with crumbs.

I took everything out, vacuumed the drawers and cabinets, wiped them down, and put things back — in a more sensical order this time. While I was touching every piece of kitchenware that I owned, I asked myself whether or not I honestly used it. If I didn’t, it went into a donate bag.

Credit: Aliza Gans

Day 5: Wash any and all surfaces.

On the fifth day, I wanted to just clean — versus deal with the mini existential crises of organizing. I wipe down countertops every day, but there’s no denying that grease and dust cling to everything else. Damp rags dipped in warm soapy water (plus the help of an all-purpose cleaner) helped lift the grime, while the Magic Eraser and toothbrush finished the job. While I had rags and the mop bucket, I got on the floor and wiped the baseboards. Finally, squeegeeing my window is always an adventure; I need to stand on my fire escape to clean it from the outside. But I did and my kitchen seemed instantly brighter.

Credit: Aliza Gans

Day 6: Give some TLC to necessary tools.

Today was about finishing touches. I rubbed cutting boards and wooden bowls with mineral oil. I also sharpened and honed my knives. If I had fine silver or copper pots, now might’ve been the day to polish them, but I had plenty of stained cookware that the Magic Eraser helped me buff up. I even got the scorch marks out of my enameled Dutch oven. I hung fresh dish towels, threw out my old sponge, and chucked charred oven mitts and potholders into my laundry hamper. I wouldn’t need them tonight; I was ordering pizza. 

Day 7: Enjoy the space.

Nothing was easy about cleaning and decluttering my kitchen. It was back-bending work, and I was shocked by how much filth accumulated from a year of feeding. I’m lucky to be able-bodied to do it all and, honestly, I felt pretty powerful in my grandma’s apron. Turns out, there’s no sweeter reward than sitting on my kitchen stool, surveying my clean culinary queendom. Except maybe the martini I made myself. I don’t know what the rest of the year will look like, but my cleaned kitchen is giving me hope.

How do you handle your spring cleaning? Tell us in the comments below.