Recently we wrote about the sneaky places dirt hides in your home – the places you really don’t ‘see’ when you’re inspecting your house. At that time we discussed the places that dirt settles, but doesn’t always show up on the home seller’s radar, like walls and corners. We reserved the one room in the house where we think constantly about dirt, but rarely spend much time where the grime is hiding, often in plain sight. In spite of your efforts to keep it spotless, the kitchen is almost always the dirtiest corner in your entire home according to the real estate stylist.
Here are a few of the places in the kitchen where we ‘think’ dirt hasn’t found a foothold and some strategies to get it as spotless as you’d like it to be.
Your rangehood is essentially a big fan located over your kitchen stove meant to suck up droplets of oil, grease, and the steamy grime that is created when you cook. Frying, searing, and the steam from making soups and stocks, when left alone, capture airborne dirt and carry it off to the nearest surface to roost when the vent fan is not in operation.
When it is in operation, the fan pulls the steam and it’s passengers up through the fan filter to dispense them outside the house through ducting, or leaves them suspended in the system’s filters. Without regular and thorough cleaning, these filters can become clogged and useless.
The fan’s system filters are usually cleanable and can be refreshed by a go in your dishwasher. They can also be replaced regularly. Both of these ideas are good. But the fact is you will still be faced with the underside of your vent hood proper – the place where the filters live and do their work – which is the surface where most of the grime alights. It’s often the filthiest place in your entire kitchen. How do you clean it?
The hood vent falls into the “ounce of prevention” category. Maintaining your unit is the best plan. The more religiously you clean the unit as part of your daily kitchen routine, the less likely you are to end up with a mess that sneaks up on you. Make it your habit to wipe down the exterior of the hood daily and use a degreaser if you’ve done a bit of frying or searing.
Weekly, take a few moments to spray the underside of your vent with a good degreaser, give it a few moments, and then wipe it down well with clear water.
Monthly, remove and clean the filter and give the entire unit the once-over with a degreaser and a non-abrasive cleaner with or without a scouring pad. Rinse well and air-dry the unit, along with the filter. This routine, according to the real estate stylist, will keep your rangehood from developing dirt and the appliance problems it causes.
Before you prepare to list your home for sale, consider replacing the vent hood. Having a perfectly immaculate hood vent is well worth the cash outlay, as it gives the new cook an extra sense of ownership – he or she knows they will be dealing with only their own dirt.
Move the Stove
The most meticulous cook will admit that ‘stuff’ gets lost between the stove and the adjacent cabinets. Depending on the configuration of your kitchen, and if your range is a drop in or slide in model, you can almost bet the farm on the fact that there is a mess to be found when you slide that unit out of its space. Unless you move the stove regularly for cleaning, you’ve got a hidden mess on your hands. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Moving the stove is not just hard to do, doing so can mar or otherwise cause damage to floors and other surfaces around it.
Once every six months or so, do get the help you need to safely move the stove and attack the mess with a serious cleaner and a good scrubbing brush. This will keep the mess at a minimum and help you to know that your kitchen is as clean as it can be.
Under the Fridge
On that same six-month schedule, check under the refrigerator for the dreaded drip-pan. When your fridge cycles to keep the coils in the freezer clean and frost free, the condensation is channelled into the drip pan under the unit. The fluid that gathers there can become highly smelly unless it’s cleaned from time to time.
Finally, the real estate stylist tells us that a kitchen cleaner’s best friend is a stiff bristled toothbrush. One of these, coupled with some baking soda and a bit of vinegar, can reach into the most difficult kitchen nooks and crannies and remove the grime that hides there.