Life can get pretty hectic, especially when you have two young boys running around the house like I do, so it’s understandable that sometimes, we don’t always clean our homes as thoroughly or as often as we’d like to. Even I’m guilty of sometimes finding a “science experiment” in the back of the fridge or smoking up the house because I forgot the clean the oven after the last time I made a pie. (Seriously, no matter what I do, I always seem to end up with blackened apple gunk on the bottom of the oven!) I’ll bet that there are even some appliances that you’ve pretty much never cleaned because you just never really think of it. Here are a few of the worst culprits I’ve found for that, the most overlooked appliances when you’re cleaning around the house.
It’s bad enough to accidentally shove something to the back and then find it weeks or even months later sprouting fuzz thick enough to comb (ick!). But add to that the occasional spill or dribble or leak and you’ve got a sticky, disgusting mess on your hands. At least once a season, preferably more, set aside some time and take everything out of your fridge, every single thing. As you do this, throw out everything that’s moldy, expired, or just isn’t going to get eaten. Then, wipe down the inside of the fridge with warm, soapy water. Use a paste of baking soda and water to scrub off any stubborn stains. Don’t forget to pull out all of the shelves and drawers to get to every nook and cranny. Use a damp cloth to rinse everything off, dry everything, then put all of the food back, sorting and organizing as you go. Repeat this procedure with the freezer compartment, working quickly to keep your food from thawing while it’s out of the freezer.
Most ovens have a self-cleaning mode these days, and if yours does, use it. When it’s done and cooled, wipe out the inside with a damp cloth and use a mild cleaner to wash off the inside of the door. If you don’t have a self-cleaning oven, try scrubbing it with a paste of baking soda and water and a sturdy scrub brush. Don’t forget to wipe down the stove top while you’re at it. If you’ve got an electric stove, make sure to pull the burners out and clean the little trays underneath, too.
The Coffee Maker
To get rid of any buildup inside your coffee maker, mix one part vinegar and two parts water, pour this into the machine, put in a clean filter, and run it through a brew cycle. Then, run two cycles with just water to rinse out all of the vinegar (nobody likes that in their coffee!). As for the pot itself, scrub off stubborn stains with, yes, a paste of baking soda and water. (It’s amazing what this one simple concoction can do.)
The Garbage Disposal
We put all sorts of nasty stuff down the garbage disposal, so it probably shouldn’t be surprising that it can get pretty gross down there. To keep everything running smoothly and keep any funky smells at bay, first, unplug the disposal, then turn it on to confirm that it doesn’t work. Then, use a flashlight to peer down in there, and use a pair of needlenose pliers to pull out anything you see stuck in there. Next, plug the disposal back in, then dump a dozen ice cubs and a half-cup of rock salt in there. Run the disposal with the water on for a minute or so. Now, pour in a half-cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar and let it fizz for about 15 minutes to kill off any germs. Run hot water down the disposal to rinse it out. If you want it to smell extra-nice, finish by running some citrus peels through it.
It doesn’t make sense, right? I mean, the dishwasher is supposed to wash things, and it has hot, soapy water run through it all the time! But you can still get lots of buildup in hidden spots, and some of that might even start to come off on your dishes after a while. To whip your dishwasher into shape, clean out any debris that has collected in the bottom, wipe down the gasket around the edges of the door, then dump a cup of baking soda in the bottom and let it sit overnight. In the morning, throw in a cup of vinegar, then run the dishwasher on its hottest cycle.