Because kitchen appliances are used for food preparation or cleaning, it’s extremely easy for them to become covered in crumbs or residue. For this reason, it is important to remember to clean your kitchen appliances on a regular basis. Dirty appliances can attract critters and house bacteria, which can pose a significant health risk, so keeping them clean is about more than just making them look nice.

Stainless Steel

Although it’s called “stainless steel,” the metal is not as impervious to stains as the name suggests. Over time, the steel can become spotted and streaky due to fingerprints, spills, and drips. Thankfully, it is not difficult to clean stainless steel appliances. It may require a bit of a scrub, but using a simple mixture of one teaspoon of dish detergent and one quart of hot water should do the trick. Just use a microfiber cloth, and go along with the grain. If that doesn't cut it, there are specialty stainless steel cleaners available at most big-box stores.


If you are not diligent about covering your food while microwaving it, it is likely that your microwave’s interior is spattered with stains and might have a bit of an odor. If it is just stains you’re dealing with, scrubbing the inside with some warm, soapy water should be enough. Add some baking soda to the mix if odor is an issue as well. If there are some stubborn food stains, heat a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl on high for three minutes. Stains should be easier to remove after this step. If odor is still a problem, leave the door open for a few hours after cleaning to let it air out, or try leaving a bowl of vinegar sitting in the microwave overnight.


Toasters can be serious crumb collectors, so your first step is cleaning out any crumbs that have accumulated. Next, wire racks can be removed and washed in soap and warm water. Once the crumbs and racks are out of the way, the inside surfaces can be scrubbed with mild soap and warm water. Pay attention to the kind of material your toaster interior is made of if you’re dealing with tough stains. Steel wool may be used on bare metal, but any other kind of surface, such as nonstick coatings, can be easily scratched or damaged.

Ovens and Stovetops

These days, many ovens have a self-cleaning feature, which might be enough to do the job if your oven is not overly stained or grimy. If there are stains or chunks of food left over after the oven has self-cleaned, try lifting them up with a metal spatula. Often, part or all of the grime can be dislodged. If any grime is still hanging on, sprinkle some baking soda on it followed by a few drops of white vinegar. After letting it bubble for a few minutes, try scraping it up again, and then clean the area with some soap and warm water. For gas stoves, the burner caps, grates, and knobs can be soaked in the sink in hot water and dish soap. While those parts are soaking, the rest of the stovetop can be cleaned with a sponge that’s been submerged in the soap and water. For tougher stains, a specialty stovetop cleaner may be needed. For smooth, electric stovetops, cleaning the surface with soap and water or a stovetop cleaner will also suffice. Just be sure to use a sponge, paper towel, or other nonabrasive material in order to avoid scratching the surface.

Refrigerators and Freezers

Cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer can be tricky if they are filled with food. Wait to clean until just before you go to the grocery store, so you won’t have to deal with moving as much food around. If you have a cooler, food can be stored there while you clean. With as much out of the way as possible, take out any removable parts and drawers, and soak them in warm water with either a little soap or a couple tablespoons of baking soda. You can also use the baking-soda-and-water mixture to clean the insides of the refrigerator and freezer. If there is an odor issue, keeping an open box of baking soda or an open dish of vanilla extract in the refrigerator should mask any unpleasant scents. If the smell returns, switch to a new box of baking soda.

If appliances are wiped down regularly, it is unlikely that you will have to struggle with many tough stains down the road. The key is to address issues as soon as they occur rather than letting stains set in over time. It’s also important to remember that it’s always best to wear gloves to protect your skin from harsh chemicals or burns from hot water while doing any type of cleaning. By performing quick, regular cleanings of your kitchen appliances, you are protecting yourself from germ contamination, preventing difficult issues from arising, and keeping your kitchen looking good.

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Sources: Good Housekeeping; Martha Stewart; NSF International; Popular Mechanics.

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