Holiday Kitchen Cleaning Checklist

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Here are some holiday kitchen cleaning tips because, at this time of year more than any other, the kitchen is the focus of frenzied activity. Around big holidays, it’s important to remember to take deep breaths, relax, and have fun.

Clean the Kitchen Counter

Before you even start cooking, take time to remove kitchen clutter, making as much room as you can for holiday preparations.

  • Cast a cold, hard eye on those kitchen counters. Get out a large box and fill it with all the things you won’t need, and stash the box in the attic or basement for now!
  • After de-cluttering, clean those countertops and cabinet doors and handles, removing residue from sticky hands. A towel dipped in warm soapy water and wrung dry is fine.

Clean the Appliances

  • Attack the refrigerator. Discard everything that’s past its prime. Make space to chill bowls of cookie dough, batches of eggnog, and perishable food gifts you may receive. If you have time, clean the fridge with baking soda and hot water.
  • Clean the stovetop. Remove any grates and burners, and put them in the sink to soak before you scrub.
  • Clean the oven. Remove oven racks for cleaning. Mix half a cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water to make a paste and coat the interior of the stove. Leave overnight. Then wipe down with a cloth and wipe again with white vinegar.
  • Clean the microwave. One way to make this easier is to first boil a bowl of water with a half cup vinegar in the microwave; let the steam soften the food residue.
  • Clean the floor. Vacuum or sweep the kitchen, then we’d suggest a good hand-cleaning before the holiday madness begins, especially if you have guests. You want your floor to be clean and food-safe.

Cooking and Flatware

  • If your glassware looks cloudy, put 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in the offending vessel and fill it to the top with hot water. Let it sit for at least three hours. Then rinse it out and wash it in warm, soapy water.
  • When cleaning heavily tarnished silver, rub it with a damp cloth sprinkled with salt; then wash off the salt and polish the silver. If you run out of silver polish, use toothpaste. It works just as well and smells a whole lot better.
  • If you face a roasting pan with baked-on grease and gunk, fill the sink with hot water, add 2 tablespoons of dishwasher detergent, and soak the pan overnight. Then scrub it with steel wool.
  • For all the cookware that only comes out for special occasions:  Wash as much as you can in the dishwater. Everything else needs to be hand-washed and dried.
  • What about linens? Be sure any cloth napkins are clean; iron any table linens.
  • Dust or wipe down any decorations and napkin rings. Check that you have enough candles. See more about decorating the holiday table.

Organize the Pantry (Food)

  • Read recipes carefully and think through that Thanksgiving, Christmas, or special meal. Check that you have all of your ingredients.
  • Pay special attention to pan sizes and the space you will need for such activities as rolling dough and combining several bowls of ingredients.
  • Check on the age of your spices and seasonings; ground spices last about 2 to 3 years and dried herbs for 1 to 3 years.
  • Check to make sure you have plenty storage containers and materials, including of plastic wrap, waxed paper and aluminum foil. If you use glass or plastic containers with snap-on lids, organize them so they’re easy to findβ€”and that includes the lids that fit them.
  • Clean and organize your work area. It’s best to take everything out, clean the shelves with soap water, and then put everything back, except the ingredients you need; place those ingredients in the front so they’re easy to find.

A Couple Tips While You Cook

  • Clean as you go. Make a habit of washing, drying, and putting away equipment as soon as you can after using it.
  • If you burn something and it sticks to the bottom of the pan, let the pan cool off. Scrape out as much of the burned food as you can. Then fill the pan with cold water and add 3 tablespoons of salt or baking soda. Let it sit overnight. In the morning, bring the water slowly to a boil and let it simmer for 20 minutes. The pan should just wipe clean.
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