Counters & Backsplash
Your approach depends entirely on the material.
- Engineered Stone (such as Silestone)
Spray it with all-purpose cleaner; wipe with a microfiber cloth.
Wipe it with a cloth dampened in a mixture of warm water and pH-neutral stone cleaner.
- Soapstone or Laminate
Wipe it with a soft cloth dampened in a mixture of mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. Spot-treat stained laminate with a thick paste of baking soda and water.
- Stainless Steel
Use a mild abrasive, such as Bon Ami, and warm water. Fully dry; buff with a clean, dry cloth.
Wipe tiles with a soft cloth dampened in a mixture of mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. Clean grout with a thick paste of baking soda mixed with water.
- Unfinished Butcher Block
Wipe it with a soft cloth dampened in a mixture of mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. Spot-treat stains with fresh lemon juice or vinegar. Lightly wipe on mineral oil.
Vacuum or sweep away all crumbs and small particles. In a bucket, mix a cleaning solution: If you have glazed-tile floors, mix warm water with a squirt or two of all-purpose cleaner. For sealed wood floors, use ¼ cup of white vinegar for every quart of warm water. Working from the far corner of the room toward the entrance, mop, wringing out the mop head very well after resoaking it in the mixture. Too much water will simply spread the dirt around; properly mopped areas should look dry almost immediately. Move the mop back and forth two times: once to wash, then again to remove any residual cleaning solution.
Stainless Steel or Enamelware Sink
Sprinkle it with a mild abrasive, such as Bon Ami, and scrub with a soft cloth. (You can also try a thick paste of baking soda and water.) Avoid scouring powders containing chlorine bleach, ammonia, or hydrofluoric acid.
TIP: A mild dishwashing liquid like Mrs. Meyer’s can be mixed with water and used as a cleaner all over the house.
Don’t forget the...
Clean coils will let the refrigerator use less electricity. The coils are usually found behind a grill near the floor: Unplug or turn off the unit, remove the grill, and clean them with an appliance brush, or vacuum them with the crevice tool.
TIP: Clean and descale the inside of the dishwasher by filling a cup with white vinegar, placing it on the top rack, and running the otherwise empty machine at its hottest setting (e.g., “high-temperature,” “heavy,” or “sanitize”).
Wipe the exterior with soapy water; dry. Fill the carafe with equal parts white vinegar and water and run the machine: When a few cups have filled the carafe, turn it off and let sit for one hour. Then turn it back on and “rinse” with a few cycles of water.
Remove them from the cooktop or range and wash them in a mixture of mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. Thoroughly dry before refitting.
TIP: Take off the stove top’s grates and reflector bowls and soak them in a mixture of hot water and mild dishwashing liquid. Clear any clogged gas ports by inserting a wire into each hole.
Outside, rinse it with a hose; use a long-handled brush to scrub the inside with a mixture of white vinegar and warm water. Rinse and let dry.
TIP: Cabinet knobs can get grimy. If they’re easy to remove, unscrew them, then scrub with a cloth dampened in a mixture of mild dishwashing liquid and warm water; dry. (If they’re tricky to remove, just wipe them with a cloth dampened in the same solution, then dry.)
The Speedy Three
When you’re in a rush, try these steps.
1. Sweep the floor, paying special attention in the corners and along the toe kicks of lower cabinets.
2. Clear the counters of any dishes, clutter, and incidental items (like small appliances). Thoroughly wipe the counters with a damp cloth.
3. With a damp cloth, wipe the faucet and sink hardware to give it a quick polish, then wipe the inside of the sink. Clean any splatters or smudges off the stove top and refrigerator door.
I love my...
“Martha introduced me to these sponges when I was lucky enough to go to Japan with her, and I’ve used them ever since. The scrubby side is not too abrasive, and they’re easy to wash –– I put them in the laundry once a week.” –– Eric Pike, editor-in-chief