Written by Grove Collaborative

Ultimate cleaning: A step-by-step guide to cleaning the kitchen.

Last Updated: March 19, 2021

Spot-cleaning can only get you so far. In this ultimate step-by-step guide, we’ll give you the lowdown on how to clean everything in your kitchen — from small appliances to stove burners.

There’s a reason why the kitchen is usually first in line for spring cleaning. Most of the stuff in there ends up in close contact with our mouths in one way or another, so it makes sense we’d want it to be the cleanest room in the house. But how “clean” are you really getting your kitchen with conventional cleaners? Not very, as it turns out, unless you consider toxic chemicals lingering in your air “clean.” As you embark on your kitchen-cleaning odyssey this spring, think about making the switch to natural cleaners, which get your kitchen just as spotless as the top-selling brands but smell way better and won’t off-gas poison into your air.

Armed with safe cleaners, the right tools, and this ultimate kitchen cleaning guide, no nook or cranny will be spared from your cleaning prowess.

Kitchen cleaning essentials

Step 1: Cut the clutter and do the dishes

To really get a deep clean going, things to be at least somewhat orderly. Move everything not in its rightful home out of the kitchen entirely — put that all stuff away now, or make piles in another room. Gather up dirty rugs, dish rags, aprons, and towels, and get a load of laundry going — wash your rugs separately, but put the rags, towels, and aprons (strings tied) together in the same load.

A tidy kitchen is pointless if there are dirty dishes stacked in the sink — which also means you can’t clean the sink or soak anything. So wash, dry, and put away every dish you find. If you have a dishwasher, fill it, and move on to the next step while it runs. Take a look around, and appreciate how much better your kitchen looks after just the first step!

Step 2: Dust from top to bottom

Dusting from top to bottom is the right way to dust any room, unless you want dust from up high floating down and landing all over everything you just dusted down now. Which, of course you don’t.

Up high: Light fixtures, tops of cupboards, tops of shelves, and the top of the fridge.

In the middle: Windows and sills, tables, shelves, and the like.

Down low: Sweep or dry mop to remove the worst of the accumulated dust and debris from the floor so you don’t track it everywhere while you’re cleaning. Don’t forget to clean the baseboards!

After you dust, follow up with a damp microfiber cloth to clean stuck-on grease and grime off those same surfaces.

Step 3: Clean small appliances

For all small appliances:

  • Unplug the appliance before you do anything else.
  • Use a microfiber cloth and either distilled white vinegar or all-purpose cleaner to wipe down the exterior of your appliances.

The microwave

Place a bowl with a few lemon slices in the microwave, and run it on high for four minutes. Leave the door closed for an hour, then open it up and wipe the grime right up.

The coffee pot

If your coffee maker has an auto-clean button, run the cleaning cycle using 1:1 vinegar:water. If not, brew a couple of pots of vinegar and water. Scrub the basket and the pot.

The toaster oven

Before cleaning the toaster oven, sift out the burnt bits from the bottom. Wipe the inside with a damp microfiber cloth. Don’t touch the heating elements, which are easily damaged.

Step 4: Clean the cupboards and counters

To clean the countertops, first move everything off of them so they’re totally bare. Use all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth to wipe down the counters and backsplash, paying special attention to edges and corners.

Before you put things like spice racks, knife blocks, utensil holders, and cookbooks back on the counters, wipe them down with the damp microfiber cloth.

To clean the kitchen cabinets, remove the contents, clean the inside with all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth, then wipe down and replace everything except the stale or expired items. If your cabinets are an absolute disaster, maybe just do the one with the tupperware or the spices today, and do one each day until they’re all done.

Step 5: Clean the cooker

The stovetop

If your stove is a gas burner, remove the metal grills and stove burners, and soak them in lukewarm water and a splurt of dish soap. For electric stovetop burners, gently spot-clean dirty areas with soap and a microfiber cloth, avoiding the connection points. For an electric glass stovetop, use either dish soap or distilled white vinegar and a microfiber cloth to clean the surface.

The oven

Following our helpful, step-by-step oven-cleaning guide, mix half a cup of baking soda with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to create a paste. Use the paste and a gentle brush to scrub the oven interior, avoiding elements. Let the paste sit for a few hours, then use a microfiber cloth, water, and distilled white vinegar to remove the baking soda and create a final shine.

Step 6: Clean the sink

It’s easy to forget that the place where we clean things also needs to be cleaned. Not only does your sink get dirty fast, but the garbage disposal and drain get slimy, grimy and moldy practically overnight.

Use a baking soda-and-water paste and a sponge or microfiber cloth to wipe down the entire sink basin — use an old toothbrush coated in paste to scrub as much of the drain area as you can reach. Spray distilled white vinegar in the sink to break down the baking soda mixture and loosen any leftover first. Rinse with water, and presto! Clean sink!

Take your damp microfiber cloth to the faucets, and give them a good cleaning and shining. Use the toothbrush to remove any grime around the seams at the base.


Don’t forget the drain

You can only reach so far into your drain to clean away gross stuff that can make your sink stink — and eventually cause a clog. To naturally clean your drain, pour in a half-cup of baking soda, followed by a half-cup of vinegar. Put the plug in the drain, and leave it for an hour. Pull the plug, and pour a pot of boiling water down the drain.

Step 7: Clean out the fridge

Ah, one of the most-dreaded kitchen-cleaning tasks: Cleaning out the fridge.

Start by emptying everything out of your fridge — trays and drawers, too — and put the contents on your now-empty countertops. If your sink is big enough, soak the trays and drawers in lukewarm water and a little dish soap.

Use a teeny bit of dish soap in hot water and a microfiber cloth to clean the inside of the fridge and door. While they air-dy, wash the shelves and drawers in hot, soapy water, rinse thoroughly, dry, and replace.

As you refill the fridge with food, check expiration dates — or use your nose — and compost or toss food that’s old. Rinse and recycle the glass and plastic bottles of empty and expired condiments.

Step 8: Empty the garbage, and clean the can

While we might dismiss cleaning the sink because it's always soapy, we often forego scrubbing the trash can because it's “always trashy.” Not today, home citizen!

First, take out the garbage. Turn the whole can upside down over the bin to empty any wayward trash. If it’s really gross inside the can, hose it out — or give it a good, hot shower — while you scrub it with a bristly brush.

If it’s not that bad, use an all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth to wipe down the exterior and interior of your trash can. Pay special attention to the lid, hinges, and foot pedal.

Step 9: Clean the floor

After shuffling all these kitchen items around, the floor is naturally going to look a little rough. Vacuum thoroughly, running the suction hose along the baseboards, under shelves and cupboards, and in cracks and crevices.

Give the floor a good microfiber mopping using the appropriate cleaner for your floor type to remove dirt, grime, germs and bacteria.

If your tile grout needs some TLC, follow the steps and helpful tips in our grout-cleaning guide to restore it to its original glory. Our hardwood floor cleaning guide will help you get rid of grime on your wood floors without damaging your finish.

Step 10: Replace textiles, and admire your work

Now that your kitchen is sparkly clean from top to bottom, you can put your clean rugs back down and fill the drawers with fresh dish towels. Ahhh, now that feels good!

Give the kitchen one last look-around to make sure you got it all. Tie up any loose ends, and put your tools and cleaners away.

Now, it’s time to stand back, crack open a can of cold fizzy water, and admire your handiwork. You did it! Bask in the satisfaction of spotless stainless steel, gleaming glass, and a shiny floor — and enjoy it while it lasts!


Give your kitchen brass some TLC

Brass is popular in the kitchen, but after time, it becomes tarnished. The good news is that you don’t need to use toxic, caustic polishes to get your brass pots, stove hood, light fixtures, or cabinet hardware, shiny and new again. Our natural brass-cleaning guide gives you the lowdown on restoring all things brass with things you have on hand, including salt, lemon, and vinegar.

Shop natural cleaning products

Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered. From timely topics such as our handwashing and hand sanitizer breakdown to evergreen primers like our simple ways to reduce your plastic use at home, our handy guides are here to answer your most pressing questions. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on germs, shop Grove Collaborative's cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job.

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