The Ultimate Guide to Deep Cleaning the Kitchen

For a sparkling-clean kitchen and like-new appliances.

Why is it that the kitchen never really feels clean? Well, for starters, because we’re always using it. Most of us are in a constant cycle of breakfast, cleanup, lunch, cleanup, dinner, cleanup, snack, cleanup — and repeat ad nauseam. Maybe with a missed cleanup here or there.

Throughout the day, you and your housemates are likely tidying up, wiping down, sweeping up, and unloading the dishwasher to keep the space usable.

What is a kitchen deep clean?

So, if we’re constantly cleaning the kitchen, why does it need a deep clean? What’s the difference? Think of it this way: even if you always brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day, the dentist may still find cavities if you’re not also going in for your routine checkups — you know, the one where the dentist cleans off extra plaque and gives you a fluoride treatment.

For your home, that dentist appointment is the kitchen deep clean. Building dedicated cleaning sessions into your cleaning routine will make your space cleaner, fresher, and healthier — and it will make that daily cycle so much easier.

Best tools for deep cleaning

Before you get started, you’ll need some tools and supplies. You can use whatever you’ve got, but you’ll need to have a few basics — whether you’re starting from scratch or already have lots of favorites. Since we’re talking about deep cleaning, you may need more tools than you typically grab.

Kitchen deep cleaning checklist

Order of operations matters! If you’re going to be kicking up dust, crumbs, and dirt, you want to save the floors for last. In general, we recommend cleaning from top to bottom — starting with the top.

Tidy up kitchen

If the kitchen isn’t already somewhat clean, this will be harder than it needs to be. Start by emptying the sink and dishwasher, clearing off the countertops and table, and generally getting your workspace ready.

Clean light fixtures

Take the duster and pass it over any light fixtures or fans in the kitchen. Remember, this is a deep clean we’re talking about — so if you see dirt or dead bugs or any buildup inside the fixture, now is the excuse you’ve been waiting for to unscrew it and vacuum the inside. If it’s really dirty, maybe wash and dry the glass before replacing it. If you’ve been putting off replacing burnt out bulbs, here’s your moment.

Clean curtains and blinds

Dust the blinds and vacuum the curtains. If you can, follow the instructions to wash the curtains, too. Fabrics in the kitchen soak up a lot of smells. Does your kitchen always have that garlic smell? Might be the curtains. Or because you put a dozen cloves in every meal.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning curtains and blinds.

Deep clean oven

Depending on how soiled it is, you may want to apply a store-bought oven cleaner and follow the instructions to clean. While it sits and does its thing, you can work on other parts of the kitchen. You can also make a DIY cleaner.

Just don’t forget to come back to it later! Or you might find that you won’t be able to use that frozen pizza for an easy dinner.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning your oven.

Clean refrigerator

While your oven cleaner rests, move on to the fridge. Working quickly, you’ll want to remove food from the fridge so you can clean the entire inside with warm, soapy water. Our favorite hack? Try using Dawn Powerwash to get into the hard-to-reach places. Just spray, wipe, and rinse. Using a dry rag, fully dry the interior and replace the food.

Wait a second, though — before you put back all that food, check the bottles and containers. Toss any expired food. Wipe down dirty containers before putting them back in. Nothing ruins a clean fridge like a messy row of condiment jars.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning your refrigerator.

Clean dishwasher

You might not think of the dishwasher as something that needs cleaning, but for it to function properly, it should be cleaned regularly. Start with the dishwasher filter, then wipe down the entire interior and let it dry.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning your dishwasher.

Deep clean sink + garbage disposal

You might not realize the garbage disposal is in need of cleaning until you smell it. It might seem intimidating, but it’s a task you can definitely handle on your own. Just follow these 10 easy steps for cleaning the garbage disposal.

Once you’re done with the disposal, it’s time to move on to the sink. Using Dawn Powerwash, spray the entire sink, and take the opportunity to scrub in the nooks and crannies that don’t usually get attention (we like using an old toothbrush for those small spaces). Then wipe away the suds and rinse. If you want to get things really sparkling, take the time to dry out the sink while you’re at it.

Clean off cabinets

Here’s our little secret: of all the items in this checklist, this might have the most impact on how your kitchen looks and feels after the deep clean. You might not realize just how dull and dirty the cabinets really are until you take the time to clean off the accumulated splatters, dust, and grime. So we highly recommend taking the time to do this right, even if it seems tedious.

You also want to be gentle with your cabinets. We recommend using a mixture of warm water and gentle dish soap. Take a microfiber cloth or sponge, wet it with the soapy water, and squeeze until it is just damp. Too much water could damage the cabinets. Wipe the cabinets from top to bottom, cleaning and rewetting your cleaning cloth as necessary.

Take care to wipe down those knobs and hinges, too — but make sure you carefully rinse and dry them, and the cabinets, once you’re done wiping away the dust and dirt. You want to remove all soap residue and leave no water behind. You can also use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get rid of any grease, grime, or any stubborn scuffs or marks.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning the kitchen cabinets.

Wipe down backsplash

The backsplash is a place you might more intuitively clean — after all, the whole point of it is to catch splatters. Give this a good wipe down with your soap and water mixture, rinse, and dry.

Swiffer and mop kitchen floor

Swiffer the floors to get rid of dust and particles. Then, depending on what type of floor you have, pass over the floor with a mop and your favorite cleaning solution mixed with water.

Voila! Your kitchen is as clean as the day you moved in. To make this feeling last as long as humanly possible, we recommend going out to eat tonight. After all, you’ve already spent all day in the kitchen.

Either that, or finally using that frozen pizza you’ve been saving — because you definitely remembered to clean out the oven after letting the cleaner work, right?

Don’t forget these cleaning spots

You may not need to tackle these as frequently, but here are some other frequently forgotten kitchen areas:

  • Inside the cabinets (a vacuum cleaner attachment will do wonders)
  • Inside the pantry
  • Refrigerator coils (again, a vacuum cleaner attachment should do the trick — follow the instructions for your model)
  • Microwaves
  • Toaster ovens
  • Toasters
  • Range filters
  • Coffee makers and tea kettles (depending on usage, you’ll probably want to descale these every few months)

Tips & Tricks

Did your eyes glaze over while you were reading through this checklist? We get it. Serious home maintenance is a big time commitment. Here’s the thing, though — you don’t have to do it all yourself. You might be the one managing the household, or simply taking the initiative, but you can call in reinforcements.

  • You don’t have to do it all in one day. Rather than taking half your weekend to deep clean the kitchen once a month, tackle one or two of the major items on the checklist every week. This is where a cleaning schedule comes in really handy. It might seem extremely type A, but a schedule can actually mean you spend less time thinking about what needs to be cleaned, and when, and by whom. You’ll already know!
  • You can — and should — delegate. Whether you have a spouse, roommate, and/or kids, you should feel empowered to share the chores. Using a checklist as a starting point, try assigning out different tasks to others. Maybe your spouse has the attention to detail needed to be the designated dishwasher filter and garbage disposal cleaner. And a great place to get the kids involved is Swiffering and mopping the floors — even smaller children can use a Swiffer Sweeper.

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