Spring-Cleaning the Kitchen
The floor beneath the kitchen table -- that favored spot for family breakfasts, afternoon snacks, and late-night indulgences -- requires frequent cleanups. Fit your table with swivel casters and, with a gentle push, you'll no longer have to vacuum around its legs.
Freshly ground seeds of cumin, coriander, and fennel don't just spice up your cooking, they also cling to the grinder. For a quick cleaning, run soft, fresh white bread through the grinder to pick up lingering spices and absorb the oil they leave behind.
DIY Oven Cleaner
If you don't have a self-cleaning oven (which burns off residue at very high temperatures), try this natural solution.
Here's the best way to clean cast iron: Scrub it with coarse salt and a soft sponge. The salt, a natural abrasive, absorbs oil and lifts away bits of food while preserving the pan's seasoning. Rinse away salt and wipe dry.
Cleaning Stainless Steel
Conventional wisdom holds that pots and pans should be given a good soak. But every metal has different properties and requires special care. Stainless steel is prone to stains from heat and hard water. To remove them, apply white vinegar with a soft cloth and rub. Always dry thoroughly after washing to prevent a film from forming. Never soak stainless steel cookware; this will result in pitted surfaces.
Use these tips to whiten linens, ceramic, and more.
A buildup of grime on kitchen appliances calls for a bit more elbow grease.
Silver Polishing Trick
The next time you polish a fork, dip a length of cotton twine into silver polish, and rub it between the tines.
Pots take up the least space when you nest them, but that leaves the lids with no place to go. Give them a home of their own by installing metal towel bars inside your pantry door. Don't use fancy or bulky bars -- look for simple ones that stand out about 2 inches; mount them only to the rails of solid-core wooden doors. To hang a lid, slide it behind the bar so the knob or handle catches and holds the lid in place.
Kitchen Space Savers
These two easy projects can give you newfound space and storage in a cramped kitchen area.
Kitchen Sink Organziner
To keep your kitchen sink uncluttered, shop flea markets or housewares stores for pretty little trays to hold sponges, brushes, and dish and hand soap; the trays minimize spillover to the countertop and enable you to remove multiple small items quickly when you need to clear the sink. Let items serve double duty. When you have only a few things to wash, use a wire rack atop a sheet pan to drain dishes. They vanish into the cupboard after dishes dry, leaving valuable open
Dishwashing Liquid Bottles
When it's kept in an attractive glass bottle, dishwashing liquid doesn't have to stay hidden beneath the sink. Decorative bottles and pour spouts are available at housewares stores; vintage bottles work well too, as long as they are perfectly clean. Simply fill the bottle with dishwashing liquid, and top it with the spout. Then begin to buy your detergent in quantity, and refill the bottle as necessary.
Smart Dishwashing Tip
Dishwashing gloves protect hands from dishwater, but when you raise your forearms, the sudsy liquid rolls back over the gloves and soaks your elbows and sleeves. A simple solution: Fold over the bottom few inches of the gloves to make a cuff for each. Any water that pools there will return to the sink.
Storing sharp knives in a drawer makes for less-cluttered counters and a safer kitchen. But with each pull of the drawer, sliding knives collide, dulling and damaging their finely honed edges. Artists' drawing-board liner (available at art-supply stores) has a slightly rubbery surface that keeps sharp implements stationary and wipes clean easily. Using a ruler and a utility knife, cut a piece of liner to fit the bottom of the drawer, and anchor it in place with double-sided tape.
Flowerpot String Dispenser
Bring a favorite flowerpot indoors, turn it upside down, and you have a charming way to keep your kitchen string neat and accessible. Choose a clean pot with a bright glaze, and place it over the ball of twine, threading the end through the drainage hole. Pull out the string and snip lengths for tying herb bouquets or trussing a chicken. Try this idea with wayward balls of twine and cord in your crafts closet, too.
Baskets designed to hold fishermen's tackle or to hook onto a bicycle's handlebars come ready-made with holes in the back. Hung on a kitchen wall with cup hooks, or on a Peg-Board, they make great receptacles for unwieldy kitchen tools or fruits and vegetables that don't require refrigeration.
Storing baking sheets, cutting boards, and sturdy platters upright on kitchen shelves frees space and keeps you from having to lift a heavy stack when you need only one item. Create dividers for them using tension curtain rods. Buy rods to fit the space, and position pairs of them at intervals. Twist to tighten.
Self-adhesive felt protectors -- like those used to prevent chair legs from scratching the floor -- have another handy application. Stick them under kitchen appliances, such as the toaster, coffeemaker, and electric can opener, which will then glide across the countertop for easy access.
Bamboo steamers have holes that let air in and out to cook food uniformly. For just that reason, these containers are also well suited to storing onions, garlic, and shallots, which require ventilation and should not be refrigerated. Place all three in a single unit, or if you use lots of all of them, keep each kind in its own section of a stackable steamer. Place the steamer on a tray or plate to catch flaking skins, and set it on the counter for quick access
Use a cookie sheet to catch drips, and your drying rack won't have to hover at the sink's edge anymore. Available at restaurant-supply stores, the sheet has one-inch vertical sides to prevent runoff wherever you place it. And since it's made of metal, it resists mildew better than a rubber tray or a dish towel.
Bug-Free Pantry Tip
Keep grain moths at bay. To keep tiny bugs out of your pantry, try taping whole dried bay leaves to the sides and bottoms of your shelves.
Kitchen Organizing Ideas
Kitchens are the busiest rooms in the house. At any given time, you may be cooking, baking, prepping, cleaning, or jotting down a shopping list. Make all of those tasks easier and more time-efficient with our organizing ideas. Many take minutes but will save you hours each week.