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Cut down on your kitchen cleaning time with these once-a-year chores that will make your equipment work better and your subsequent cleanups easier.
1. Cabinets: Your cabinet shelves surely need wiping down at least once a year—and they may need relining, too. Ribbed rubber liner that comes on a roll is nice, especially under glassware, but it’s not good for lining shelves near the floor or in a kitchen where you have problems with soot or grease; when dust or dirt collects between the ribs, the liner must be removed entirely to be cleaned. In those areas, try strips of vinyl flooring, which can be cut to size, as liners. They lie flat and are very easy to wipe clean. If you have wooden kitchen cabinets, they probably could use an application of Murphy’s Oil Soap, which will strip them of old polish, wax and accumulated dirt. Then use a polish spray or rub on wax.
2. The Refrigerator: Toss out all those jars of sauces and condiments that you’ll probably never use. Remove and wash the crisper drawers, and line them (you can use air conditioner filters) or just place a dry sponge at the bottom to absorb the moisture. If possible, move the refrigerator out from the wall to clean behind it and vacuum the coils—check your refrigerator manual for details—to help the fridge operate more efficiently. Clean under it with a yardstick covered with an odd sock or a bathmat slipped underneath, then laundered.
3. Enlist Help: Get your your partner into the act. Next time he’s waxing the family car, ask him to spend a few extra minutes doing the same for your kitchen appliances, plastic wastepaper basket, shower door, and/or painted surfaces. Car wax keeps painted surfaces brighter and makes them more scratch-resistant. Plus, fingerprints will wipe off easier.
4. Appliances Pour full-strength plain white vinegar into your coffee brewing machine and run it through a cycle to improve the flavor of the coffee and keep the machine in good working order. (Afterwards, you can pour the vinegar into a marked container and use it specially for this purpose; it can be recycled for four or five cleanings.) Checked inside your microwave lately? If caked-on food is petrifying inside it, fill a two-cup microwavable measuring cup with water and heat it in the oven for several minutes. Once the steam has condensed on the interior, you can wipe it clean easily with a paper towel, soft cloth, or a sponge.
Note: There have been reports that water heated in a microwave can explode violently once removed from the oven. While these reports are overstated, to be absolutely safe, stir the water frequently before starting the microwave, and keep the door to the oven closed for a few minutes to allow the water time to cool down, and the vapors to penetrate the caked-on stuff that you're trying to remove.
5. Refrigerator Magnets: Put your magnets through the dishwasher. If your dishwasher hasn’t got a special container for small items, put the magnets in a mesh bag or even a clean pair of pantyhose for their washing.