10 Common Kitchen-Cleaning Mistakes You're (Probably) Making

When it comes to a squeaky-clean kitchen, your good intentions might actually be doing more harm than good.

As home cooks, we love spending time in the kitchen experimenting with new flavors and mastering delicious recipes from Ina Garten, but most of us don't find joy in the aftermath. Sorry, Marie Kondo (it's not you, it's us).

Cleaning the kitchen can be therapeutic for some lucky folks, but for most of us it's one of the biggest drawbacks of preparing a delicious meal, and is likely our least favorite part of the cooking process. And, unfortunately, some of our best cleaning efforts in the kitchen might not be doing us any favors. Here are 10 common kitchen cleaning mistakes even the most Type-A home cooks might be making.

You Don't Clean Your Kitchen From Top to Bottom

Have you ever swept and mopped your kitchen floors, only to have to do it all over again after seeing crumbs all over your countertops? Not cleaning your countertops before your floors is a serious waste of your time, keeping you in the kitchen for longer than you need to be. Sweeping and mopping should be the final steps of cleaning your kitchen so you don't have to end up backtracking.

You Think Your Homemade Products Are More Powerful Than They Are

spraying cleaner on countertop
Photo: Getty / Jacobs Stock Photography. Photo: Getty / Jacobs Stock Photography

While we are all for using more natural products in our homes, vinegar can only go so far-especially when it comes to the germiest areas in your kitchen. If you're taking the time to deep clean your kitchen, you'll want to ditch the homemade products for the heavy duty ones like bleach and other disinfectants.

It's important to note that cleaning some countertops with vinegar or even vinegar-based products will do more harm than good. Stone countertops in particular can be damaged by acidic products like vinegar and lemon.

Not to mention, not all cleaning products will kill the novel coronavirus. Here are some of our favorite EPA-approved cleaning products that work against COVID-19.

You Only Use Disinfectant Wipes

We were seriously disturbed to discover that our beloved antibacterial wipes aren't as wonderful as we thought. Research shows our favorite "disinfecting wipes" may not be doing a whole lot of disinfecting-just spreading the germs around! Ew.

Thankfully, research also gives us a solution to this problem. Microfiber cloths are probably your best bet when cleaning those countertops; the way the fabric is woven helps better absorb messes and wick away germs. You just may want to employ a few if you have a large kitchen! Plus, this is a much more eco-friendly and sustainable way to clean.

P.S.- You should be disinfecting your home often, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Your Sink Hasn't Been Cleaned in Months

running water in kitchen sink
Photo: Getty / Catherine Falls Commercial. Photo: Getty / Catherine Falls Commercial

This is a pretty gross habit, but it's a common one. Your sink is crawling with germs from dirty dishes and finally cleaning out that container of unidentifiable leftovers. Both your sink and garbage disposal need routine upkeep-at least once a week for your sink and once every 2-3 weeks for the disposal.

You Don't Clean Your Cleaning Supplies

If you want to make your cleaning fully worth the effort, you need to clean and sanitize your dish-washing tools, shake out the bristles on your broom, and routinely replace those kitchen sponges, among other things.

One way to make cleaning your cleaning supplies much less annoying is by tossing your dish scrubber in the dishwasher right before each cycle. You can also set up a sponge subscription on Amazon Prime every few weeks to ensure you're not using it longer than needed.

You Aren't Washing Your Dish Towels Often Enough

dish towel hanging on oven door
Photo: Getty / Inti St Clair. Photo: Getty / Inti St Clair

When was the last time those towels hanging on your oven were tossed in the washing machine? If you can't remember, you might want to go ahead and toss them in, like, now.

A dish towel is like the Swiss Army Knife of the kitchen, drying off produce, dishes, and dirty hands. These towels see a lot of use, meaning they also see a lot of germs! It's worth throwing them into your laundry any time you're doing a load to make sure they aren't doing you a disservice and spreading around more germs.

You Put Too Many Things in the Dishwasher

We know it's ten times easier to just toss a kitchen knife, cast-iron skillet or cutting board in the dishwasher, but please take the extra five minutes to hand-wash them! Some kitchen tools aren't meant to withstand the dishwasher's high heat and extended amounts of time in water. Check out this list for which things don't make the cut to be cleaned by your dishwasher.

You Avoid Cleaning Your Kitchen

pans with leftover food on stovetop
Photo: Getty / SimonLong. Photo: Getty / SimonLong

As tired as you may be from whipping up a weeknight dinner after a long work day, it's worth it to clean up the kitchen before turning on your favorite show or putting the kids to bed. Splatters and other messes that find your way onto your stovetop, in your burners, on the floor or on your backsplash will only get more difficult to clean as stains set. It'll be that much more rewarding to sit down at the end of a long day with a (mostly) clean kitchen.

You Immediately Wash Your Pots and Pans

OK, OK, we just said to clean up right away, but this is the exception. You must let your pots and pans cool down before washing with soap and water, or else they may warp. This can actually end up being a serious safety issue, as the pot or pan can get a little wonky and no longer sit securely on your burner. Let your cookware cool as you eat and get to it afterwards.

You Forget to Clean Certain Appliances

Some expensive appliances-like KitchenAid mixers and coffee makers-go uncleaned much longer than they should, which could end up causing you to shell out cash for new ones earlier than you should have to. Even your dishwasher needs some occasional sprucing up!

Check out these guides for cleaning your coffee maker, oven and dishwasher, and make sure to treat your other appliances with some TLC next time you're doing a deep clean of your kitchen.

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