10 Things in Your Kitchen You Think Are Clean but Probably Aren’t, According to a Professional Cleaner

updated Apr 13, 2021
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I have a pretty predictable kitchen-cleaning routine: Wipe down counters, sweep up crumbs, stay on top of the dishes, and keep the trash and recycling from piling up. And, every now and then, I do some deep cleaning inside the oven, the microwave, and the sink. When I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll tackle the fridge.

My routine feels pretty comprehensive, but according to Irina Nikiforova, founder of the Los Angeles-based home cleaning company Rocketmaids, I’m still missing some crucial spots — and maybe you are, too.

Here are 10 surprisingly dirty areas of your kitchen that she says probably need some love, stat.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Your toaster

I’m guilty of this one: I’ll wipe down the outside of my toaster and at best, clean the knobs so it looks nice and shiny on the counter. But on the inside, there’s a whole mess of old burnt bits and crumbs. We can all probably be better about emptying the crumb tray. And Nikiforova suggests a crumb sweep of the inside at least once a quarter, too. Shake it out upside-down over a trash can and use an old toothbrush or a basting brush to knock out anything that lingers behind.

Read more: How to Clean a Toaster

Credit: Cat Meschia

2. Your garbage disposal

I clean my sink all the time. The garbage disposal? Only really when it starts to smell. And the splash guard? I can’t remember the last time I touched it — and Nikiforova says it’s probably full of food grime and germs. “To clean it, just lift it up, and use a small cleaning brush with dishwashing soap,” she says.

Related: How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

3. Your dishwasher

It makes sense to think your dishwasher cleans itself, but as with any appliance, it requires routine maintenance to remove all that old food residue, soap scum, and grease. Aim to clean your filter at least every month, and always check for gunk around the gasket. 

Read more: How to Clean a Dishwasher

Credit: Cat Meschia

4. Your range hood filters

There’s probably no greasier area of your kitchen than your range hood filter. And it’s not just a cosmetic problem: Nikiforova says too much buildup can affect the filter’s efficiency. Just remove it from the hood and clean it in the dishwasher with a normal cycle! The dish soap will cut right through the grease. No dishwasher? You can also wash them by hand with liquid dish soap.

Read more: How to Clean a Greasy Range Hood Filter

Credit: Cat Meschia

5. Your vertical surfaces

For regular cleaning, Nikiforova says people usually focus on horizontal surfaces, neglecting vertical spaces like cabinets and walls. Those surfaces need to be cleaned too.

Related: How To Clean Wood Kitchen Cabinets (and the Best Cleaner for the Job)

6. Your kitchen mat

A soft mat in the kitchen while cooking or washing dishes can be a game-changer for your feet. “Quite often people just vacuum their mats, but they should be occasionally washed or cleaned with soapy water because the kitchen floor tends to accumulate lots of grease,” Nikiforova says. “And don’t forget to clean the back side as well!”

Read more: How To Clean One of Those Anti-Fatigue Kitchen Mats

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

7. Your kitchen towels

As a rule of thumb, clean your kitchen towels as often, or more often, than you clean your bathroom hand towels — they could be harboring food-borne germs that could transfer to your hands or dishes!

8. Your oven mitts

When was the last time you washed your oven mitts or hot pads? “If you take a moment and look at them closely, you’ll see food spills and grease from the oven tray,” Nikiforova says. “Just throw them into the washing machine next time when you wash towels.”

9. Your sponge holder

While everyone is focused on cleanliness of sponges, we’re forgetting about our sponge holders in the sink. Of course, the germs from the gross sponges can transfer to the holder, making it important to disinfect regularly. Wash it the next time you’re doing dishes — either by hand or in the dishwasher.

10. Your utensil holder

You know how the inside of your toothbrush holder gets, well, disgusting? Well, so does your utensil holder. It’s probably not as gross, but it’s definitely full of crumbs! Nikiforova suggests taking out all utensils occasionally and cleaning inside with a brush and a suitable cleaning solution.