Punxsutawney Phil has deigned us worthy of an early thaw so there's no use procrastinating on your spring cleaning—even if your kitchen is dirtier than a roadside truck stop Blimpie's. Here's how to make your kitchen sparkle using supplies that're already there (or at least should be).
Stainless steel is throughout the kitchen from refrigerators and toasters to counter-tops and the the sink itself. That includes most of your flatware, too. While durable and resistant to stains, stainless steel's finish can dull over time due to oils—either from fingerprints or cooking—oxidizing on its surface. Its hairline finish is susceptible to scratches as well.
To bring back the steel's luster, you'll need the following:
- white vinegar
- baking soda
- small, clean cotton rag
- a sponge
Dip the rag in the vinegar and work it over the steel's surface using a tight circular motion (wax on, wax off). Vinegar acts as an organic solvent and will cut through any fresh oil that hasn't yet oxidized. If you've got a bottle of mineral spirits under the sink or some olive oil in the pantry, they'll work as well. You can also sprinkle a bit of baking soda onto the surface and work it in with the sponge to remove any residual discoloration, just be sure to rinse it thoroughly with water. Vinegar and club soda both can be used to remove heat stains from cutlery and counter-tops, simply rub on with a rag and rinse with water.
Long before stainless steel had even been invented, copper was a staple of the home, used for everything from roofing to cookware. However, copper is constantly oxidizing, which is what creates that awesome green patina you see on antique roof tiles. While aesthetically appealing on the roof, patina has no place in the kitchen. To remove it from your kettles and steampunk flatware, grab the following items:
- White vinegar
- baking soda or cornstarch
- pot large enough to hold copper items
A vinegar and salt bath is the easiest way to clean copper. Mix a tablespoon of salt with one cup of white vinegar and 3 cups of water in the pot. Immerse the copper item in the bath and bring everything to a full rolling boil and keep it there until clean, then turn off the heat and allow the bath to cool to room temperature. Give it a quick wash with some dish soap to get rid of the vinegar smell and that's it.
For spot cleaning copper, both lemon and ketchup work well. If you use lemon, cut a wedge and sprinkle salt on both sides for grit and go to work. If you've only got lemon juice, mix it with equal parts corn starch to make a paste or just use ketchup straight from the bottle. Either way, be sure to wash the items with soap and water when you're done.
Marble is a gorgeous, durable counter-top material commonly found in newer and higher-end kitchens. The problem with marble though is that its an extremely porous stone so it sucks up stains like a sponge. And the longer it sits, the deeper it penetrates and the less likely you'll ever be able to get it out. If you own marble, keep the following items handy:
- cotton cloth
- warm water
- hydrogen peroxide
- a chamois
First, blot the offending liquid with the sponge—don't wipe it, that just makes matters worse. Dip your cloth in warm water and wipe down the marble thoroughly, then immediately dry with the chamois. Next pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide onto the stained area and allow it to penetrate for a minute or so, then wipe off with the warm water cloth and dry it with the chamois.
You should also be vigilant about not letting citrus or other acidic liquids on marble as they can literally eat away at the stone and cause etching. Marble also scorches easily so make sure you always set hot pots on pads or a rack, never directly on the marble.
You'll be hard pressed to find an appliance in your kitchen that doesn't have at least a few plastic components. And while plastic seems to be a magnet for grease and grime buildup (seriously, top of your fridge? Nasty) cleaning it is as simple as microwaving a lemon. You'll need:
- a lemon
- a sponge
Cut the lemon in half, microwave it for 30 seconds, salt the open half and go to town. Repeat with the other half, then rinse with water.
Salt, lemons, and white vinegar—these are the holy trinity of housekeeping. Keep some on hand at all times and you'll be able to erase the evidence of any cooking disaster, no matter how splattery.