Kitchen cleaning made easy

One of the worst smells I can think of is the inside of a poorly kept refrigerator. The rest of the kitchen cleaning can be a time consuming chore, but the smell of a refrigerator can make you want to shut the door and move on to another area of the house. It's not always your fault; perhaps you just moved in or are bringing in a refrigerator out of storage.

The best way to clean the fridge is to just attack it. Remove all of the racks and drawers and spray them with a mild bleach solution-and here's a cleaning tip-do it outside. Lay the entire inside drawers on a piece of clean tarp in the backyard and spray them down with the hose to remove any food. Then spray it again with the bleach solution and let it soak while you clean the inside.

Wear gloves and use a strong cleaning solution of detergent and water, soaking the inside and allowing it to sit for a few minutes. Then scrub out the inside with a green backed sponge. When you've worn out the sponge, use a clean cloth to soak up the excess water, or a lot of paper towels if you'd rather. Dry the inside with a lint resistant cloth and move out to the yard, leaving the door open to air out.

(Note: Never leave children unattended around an open refrigerator.)

Spray down the racks and drawers again with the hose to rinse off the bleach water, it should have loosened the grime enough to wipe off with a fresh sponge. Wipe and rinse one more time, and then put everything back.

Continue to keep the fridge smelling clean by using -once again-the same method used by moms and grandmothers since electric refrigerators were first introduced -a box of baking soda. Always cover leftovers with a tight lid, and translucent containers take the element of surprise out of opening them. Here's a preventative cleaning tip I learned while in the restaurant business- restaurant workers will tell you to label all leftovers with their name and date before storing.

As for the rest of the kitchen, see the article on oven cleaning tips and finish the job by starting at the ceiling and getting any cobwebs. Clean the front of all appliances with a mild solution that does not have a high acidity content so as to not damage the enamel. A white backed sponge works well on appliances that are not scratch resistant.

If it's deep cleaning time, take all the kitchenware stored in the cupboards out at one time and make three piles. Keepers-the pots, pans, and serving ware that you use regularly, or even once a year during the holidays-donations (load these up and take to the nearest charity) and the third pile should be taken to the dump. While everything is out on the counters you can scrub out the cupboards and reorganize what you've chosen to keep.

As always, leave the sweeping and mopping of the floor for last.