Kitchen Cleaning: Top Tips for Getting the Grime Out of Pots, Pans and Appliances

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5 minutes



Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.

Millennials who grew up as first-generation fans of Barney the dinosaur surely remember the “Clean Up” song. And evidently, Barney made quite an influence. Now, as adults and perhaps with kids of your own, the simple rhyming song takes on added significance – because you’re much more into cleaning than previous generations.

A 2021 survey revealed that more than two-thirds (69%) of respondents said their kitchen sink has dirty dishes piled up more often than it doesn’t, and they don’t like it one bit. In fact, 51% say they can’t enjoy a meal if dirty dishes await and 80% admit to feeling calmer if the dishes are done right away.

While cleaning isn’t always fun, it must be done!

Getting grime out of pots and pans as well as common appliances like microwaves, coffee makers and even the dishwasher (did you know your dishwasher needs cleaning too?) does not have to feel so daunting.

Here are tips to ensuring that your kitchen clean-ups are stress free … and fast … for some of the tougher jobs on your to-do list.

Picture of a old-fashioned microwave

How to Clean a Microwave

Over time, your microwave can get pretty grimy. And why not? Over 90% of U.S. households own a microwave, and we use them … a lot. That means the inside, thanks to splatters, gets caked with residue from sauces and such, and the outside is smeared with dirty handprints. Here are 8 foods you should never put in the microwave – just in case you were thinking about it.

When it’s time for a thorough microwave cleaning, there are plenty of approaches to getting the job done. But one of the most effective involves using the microwave itself, by generating steam from hot water:

  • Fill a microwave-safe bowl with water
  • Place the bowl inside your microwave and heat it on “High” for 1 minute
  • Wait 5 minutes and remove the bowl
  • Wipe down the grime, loosened by the steam from the water, with paper towels


If there’s still gunk caked on the innards of your microwave, try another step – and that is to heat wet paper towels and use them as follows:

  • Tear off two or three paper towel sheets. A good option, in our humble opinion, are highly-absorbent Scott Paper Towels
  • Lightly wet them and lay them on the microwave turntable
  • Heat for 1 minute; and let them cool for a few more minutes
  • Use the hot, wet paper towels to wipe down the interior


How to Clean a Dishwasher

It may sound counterintuitive, but dishwashers can get dirty, too, thanks to bits of food or soap residue. Here’s a good method for a dishwasher deep clean – by using a bowl of white vinegar:

Cats and dogs don’t urinate for spite. There’s usually something else at play and the accident could be evidence of a bigger problem or issue.

  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Fill a dishwasher-safe bowl with 1 cup of white vinegar
  • Place the bowl of vinegar on the bottom rack of the dishwasher
  • Select a “hot water” cycle and push “Start”
  • Once the cycle is complete, remove the bowl
  • Carefully wipe down the dishwasher with a sturdy rag or durable, absorbent paper towels

Overhead view of someone pouring oil into a skillet

How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

A cast iron skillet and other cast iron cookware should be staples in any kitchen where cooking is taken seriously. But a dirty cast iron must be handled with care, or it can easily lose its seasoning and even be unsafe to use.

Cast iron must be cleaned by hand; no dishwashers, please! If caked with grease and other food residue, the best method is to follow these five simple steps:

  1. Using a small amount of dish soap, lightly scrub off food and grease with a scrub brush with soft bristles.
  2. Rinse with warm water and dry.
  3. If you still have some stubborn stains, place a small amount of water in the skillet.
  4. Let simmer on the stove for a few minutes; then let the skillet cool.
  5. Use a cast iron pan scraper to remove any remaining stains.

If you’re serious about protecting your cast iron cookware investment, you can purchase a cast iron care kit from a cookware manufacturer, like this one from Lodge Cast Iron.


How to Clean a Coffee Maker

What do you like to put in your coffee? We’re guessing it’s not vinegar, but that do-it-all liquid solution can keep your java fresh and full flavored when regularly used to clean the germs, build-up and sludge from your coffee maker. Here’s how:

  • Fill your machine’s reservoir with an even mixture of water and white distilled vinegar
  • Insert a filter in the brewing basket.
  • Begin brewing; about halfway through the normal brewing time, pause the machine.
  • Leave the machine off for up to 60 minutes, as the vinegar/water solution soaks.
  • Resume the brewing cycle.
  • When complete, remove the filter and empty the vinegar/water solution from the pot.
  • Insert a new filter, pour water into the reservoir, and brew for another cycle
  • Repeat the water-only brew, with a new filter.
  • Wipe down the coffee maker with a clean cloth or paper towel(s).

Do you have any tips for cleaning these or other types of kitchen utensils or appliances? Please build on the tips we’ve listed, or share your own, via social media channels. Remember to use the tag #KeepLifeRolling.




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