The dirty hidden areas of the kitchen we forget to clean

Kitchens are busy places that see a lot of activity daily. As a result, some areas can get neglected and quite dirty over time. While we try our best to keep countertops, sinks, and appliances visibly clean, there are many hidden spots that are easy to overlook. Paying attention to these often-missed areas can go a long way in having a truly clean kitchen. Let’s explore some of the dirtiest hidden spots that we commonly forget about when cleaning our kitchens.

The Kitchen Sink Disposal and Drain

The kitchen sink disposal and drain can get very dirty over time. Food particles, grease, and germs can build up both inside the disposal and down the drain pipe. It’s easy to forget about this hidden area until a nasty odor starts to arise.

To clean the disposal:

  • Run it regularly with cold water and baking soda or vinegar to help break up grease and neutralize odors
  • Grind up ice cubes, citrus peels or small bones to help scrub the internal surfaces
  • Use a disposer cleaning powder or tablet monthly to freshen it up

To clean the drain:

  • Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain followed by 1/2 cup vinegar and let it bubble for 10-15 minutes before rinsing
  • Use a zip-tie or plastic drain snake to pull out hair clogs
  • Flush with very hot water monthly to melt grease buildup

Keeping the disposal and drain clean will eliminate odors and prevent clogged pipes.

Inside and Behind the Dishwasher

It’s easy to forget about the inside of the dishwasher since we can’t see it once the door is closed. Food and hard water stains can build up on the racks and interior surfaces over time. The filter also traps food particles and needs regular cleaning.

To deep clean a dishwasher:

  • Remove the bottom rack and filter and scrub away any debris
  • Use a toothbrush dipped in baking soda and vinegar to scrub the door gasket
  • Run an empty hot cycle with 2 cups of vinegar to dissolve any buildup
  • Use a rinse aid regularly to prevent hard water spotting on dishes

Don’t forget to pull the dishwasher out and clean grime that builds up behind and beneath it periodically. Wipe away dust and food debris that can accumulate back there over time.

Inside Kitchen Cabinet Corners and Edges

The inside corners and edges of kitchen cabinets easily get overlooked when doing surface cleaning. Dust and grime settle into these areas over time. For a deep clean:

  • Remove everything from cabinets and use a vacuum crevice tool to suck up dust balls in corners
  • Use a microfiber cloth dampened with a natural all-purpose cleaner and thoroughly wipe all interior edges and surfaces. Get into corners with a toothbrush if needed.
  • Freshen up shelves by cleaning with a mix of 2 tsp baking soda with 1 quart warm water. Wipe dry with a soft cloth.
  • Replace shelf liner and organizers if worn and grimy.

Getting into those hidden corners and edges really makes the inside of cabinets shine!

The Top of Kitchen Cabinets

Perhaps the dustiest and often forgotten area of the kitchen lies on top of the cabinets! This out of sight spot collects not only dust but also spilled food, crumbs and grease over time. Give it a good seasonal cleaning by:

  • Working from tallest to shortest cabinet, climb up safely using a sturdy stool or ladder.
  • Use a microfiber cloth dampened with an all-purpose cleaner to wipe down the entire surface on top of each cabinet, getting into the corners and back edges.
  • Vacuum up any debris or dust balls.
  • Finish by using a stainless steel polish and clean microfiber cloth to give metal vents, lights or other features on top of cabinets a shine.

Your upper cabinets will look like new after focusing some attention on this forgotten area!

Under and Behind the Refrigerator

Have you pulled your fridge out from the wall in the last few months? If not, there is probably a dust bunny colony accumulating back there! Crumbs and food spills also tend to collect under and behind a refrigerator over time.

Give this often neglected space a good seasonal cleaning:

  • Gently pull the refrigerator out from the wall, being careful not to damage flooring. Unplug it first.
  • Use a microfiber cloth and vacuum crevice tool to clean dust, dirt and debris from under and behind the appliance.
  • Vacuum up any dust balls or crumbs while you have it pulled out.
  • Use an appliance dolly if needed to roll the fridge out for easier access while cleaning.
  • Push back into place once fully cleaned behind and underneath.

Keeping the space around the refrigerator clean improves airflow and efficiency.

Inside Drawers and Utensil Holders

In our quest to keep counters and visible surfaces spic and span, it’s easy to overlook the inside of drawers, organizers and utensil holders. Give them some attention by:

  • Taking everything out of drawers and completely wiping down the inside surfaces with a cleaner and microfiber cloth
  • Cleaning utensil holders by filling with warm soapy water, letting soak, then rinsing clean
  • Using a disinfectant spray or wipe inside drawers and holders to kill germs
  • Evaluating if any organizers need replacement due to excessive wear, stains or damage
  • Adding drawer liner if needed to keep them fresher longer

Don’t forget about these “hidden” spaces that hold kitchen items we use daily!

The Garbage Can

The garbage can is one kitchen item that should get a deep clean regularly, even though we take it for granted. Think about all it holds – drippings, crumbs, and spoiled food. Get into the habit of a regular trash can cleaning routine:

  • Remove the garbage bag and soak the empty can in warm soapy water, using a scrub brush on stuck-on debris and spraying with a disinfectant cleaner.
  • For cans with rubber seals, clean with a toothbrush and toothpaste which helps remove grime. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Allow to fully dry upside down to prevent musty odors.
  • Use baking soda sprinkled in the bottom of the can to help absorb odors between cleanings.
  • Replace garbage bags frequently.

Keep trash cans fresh by cleaning the actual can thoroughly each time you change the bag.

Inside Microwave and Hood Filter

It’s easy to focus microwaving cleaning efforts solely on the turntable and outside surface while neglecting the inside top, sides and vent filter. For a deep microwave clean:

  • Remove the turntable and wash it along with rack in warm soapy water.
  • Mix up a microwave safe cleaning paste of baking soda, vinegar and water. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, allowing it to bubble up and condense inside. Carefully wipe clean with a cloth.
  • Remove and soak the vent filter in hot soapy water if it is removable. Rinse and allow to fully dry before replacing.
  • Use a lemon steam technique monthly to naturally loosen grime – microwave lemon slices with water in a bowl for a few minutes.

Paying attention to all areas of a microwave keeps it sparking clean inside and out.

Under the Kitchen Sink

This area is out of sight and out of mind until you need to grab something you stored under the sink. The space under the kitchen sink can easily get very dusty and grimy due to leaks, cleaning product spills and more. Give it a good seasonal cleaning by:

  • Pulling everything out from under the sink and wiping down the cabinet interior with a natural cleaner and microfiber cloth
  • Vacuuming dust and crumbs out of corners or ledges under there
  • Organizing products efficiently in bins after cleaning
  • Looking for signs of leaks, rust or needed repairs
  • Installing risers to increase floor space and make the area easier to wipe out
  • Adding a mat to catch spills and gunk under your sink pipes

Don’t wait until there is a plumbing leak to pay attention to this area. Keep it regularly cleaned and organized.

Kitchen Appliance Exteriors

We are pretty diligent at regularly cleaning our appliances inside – think oven, microwave, dishwasher. But we can easily forget to thoroughly clean the exterior surfaces of appliances like the refrigerator, oven and stove. However, they collect plenty of grime, splatters and fingerprints. Give them some attention by:

  • Pulling appliances out to access all sides
  • Reading manuals for any special cleaning instructions
  • Using appliance-safe cleaners and microfiber cloths for wiping down exterior surfaces
  • Removing knobs and doors to clean sides and front panels thoroughly
  • Polishing stainless steel exteriors using appliance cleaner or mixes of vinegar, olive oil and lemon
  • Cleaning fingerprint smudges off stainless surfaces using glass cleaner
  • Touching up enamel surfaces with appliance paint if needed

Shiny, clean appliance exteriors make the whole kitchen look instantly cleaner!

The Kitchen Phone

The kitchen landline phone probably doesn’t even get a second thought when cleaning. But just think how many greasy fingers hit those number buttons when looking up recipes or ordering takeout! Phones collect plenty of unseen grime. To deep clean:

  • Unplug and remove phone from wall. Remove and wash handset if possible.
  • Use a disinfectant wipe or spray on phone base, dial pad, handset and cords
  • Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to gently clean crevices and number buttons
  • Use a cotton ball dampened with cleaner to wipe down entire surface
  • Clean wall mounts or sockets area to remove grease accumulation
  • Allow to fully dry before reassembling and replacing

A clean phone is healthier for the whole family when cooking.

Kitchen Flooring Grout and Corners

It’s easy to quickly mop kitchen floors without getting into those grimy grout lines or corners. But they definitely need periodic deep cleaning attention since grease, grime and food debris get trapped in floor grout and corners.

  • Sweep and wipe down baseboards and corners periodically using an all-purpose cleaner to remove any gunk and grease buildup. Get into corners with a toothbrush if needed.
  • Mix up a bowl of baking soda and vinegar and use an old toothbrush to scrub the paste into floor grout lines. Let sit briefly before rinsing clean.
  • For tough grease stains in grout, use an oxygen bleach powder and stiff scrub brush on the area, then rinse.
  • Seal grout occasionally with a sealant to resist stains.
  • Sweep and mop floors thoroughly weekly focusing on grout and corners.

Beautifully clean flooring makes the whole kitchen look instantly fresher.

Inside Kitchen Light Fixtures

Ever notice bugs or a greasy film inside those overhead kitchen light glass coverings? Kitchen lights attract dirt, grease and bugs over time. But the fixtures are high up and easily overlooked when cleaning. Give them a seasonal deep cleaning by:

  • Very carefully standing on a ladder or sturdy stool to reach fixture
  • Unscrewing light coverings and using dish soap and water to wash fully, drying completely with a soft towel
  • Cleaning down the lightbulbs themselves with rubbing alcohol and cotton balls
  • Using a disinfectant wipe on switches and cords
  • Checking that wires or cords are secure and not damaged
  • Replacing any burned out bulbs
  • Putting lighting fixtures back together securely

Freshly cleaned lighting instantly makes the whole kitchen brighter!

Inside Kitchen Vent Hood

The vent hood overhead the stove works hard to filter out grease, smoke and odors. But all that greasy buildup has to collect somewhere – inside the hood ventilation parts! This area easily gets neglected but needs occasional deep cleaning.

  • Remove the aluminum mesh filter and soak in hot soapy water, scrubbing clean. Rinse and allow to fully dry before replacing
  • Remove any remaining baffle filters or pieces and clean in same manner
  • Use a toothbrush dipped in cleaning paste to scrub the fan blades, base and interior surfaces
  • Rinse surfaces and allow to dry fully
  • Check hood vent pipe for any blockages
  • Replace any burnt out light bulbs

Proper vent hood cleaning helps remove greasy residue that can pose a fire hazard while improving air flow.

Behind and Inside the Stove and Oven

Forget something baking in the oven? Boil something over on the stovetop? Then you’ve likely got dried food, grease and grime accumulating behind and inside your stove and oven. These areas are a pain to access and clean, so they often get ignored. Give them a periodic deep cleaning by:

For the oven:

  • Hand cleaning inside glass oven door using dish soap and baking soda paste and a non-scratch sponge
  • Removing racks and soaking in hot soapy water before scrubbing and rinsing clean. Soak oven racks in ammonia water periodically to remove tough grease stains.
  • Using stove cleaner or baking soda paste on inside oven surfaces. Avoid harsh fume-producing oven cleaners.
  • Carefully pulling oven out while unplugged to access and clean side and back panels.

For the stove:

  • Pulling stove out to access back and side areas for cleaning baked on debris
  • Lifting or removing top grates and rings to clean grime underneath using dish soap and water. Consider soaking them in an ammonia sink first to cut grease.
  • Taking apart and cleaning individual stove burners
  • Using a toothbrush dipped in baking soda paste to gently scrub control knobs and panels

A clean oven and stove cooks more efficiently and prevents potential fires.

Inside Kitchen Cabinets

It’s easy to quickly wipe down exterior cabinet surfaces while neglecting the inside. But kitchen cabinets easily get grimy with greasy buildup, food spills, dust and more. Give them a periodic deep cleaning by:

  • Removing everything from cabinets so all surfaces are exposed
  • Mixing up a cleaning solution of dish soap, warm water and vinegar in a bucket
  • Washing cabinet interior walls, doors and shelves using a microfiber cloth and cleaning solution
  • Using a toothbrush or small scrub brush for stuck-on debris or grease in corners
  • Rinsing surfaces thoroughly with clean water and drying with a soft lint-free towel
  • Avoid excessive water so wood cabinets don’t warp
  • Liners can also be temporarily removed and washed to refresh cabinet interiors

Cleaning inside cabinets makes everything you store in them cleaner too!

The Coffee Maker

For many, a coffee maker is an essential kitchen appliance that gets used constantly. All that coffee dripping results in plenty of stains and buildup inside the machine, reservoir and pot that needs cleaning. Deep clean your coffee maker by:

  • Running several cycles with half vinegar / half water solution to dissolve mineral buildup and stains
  • Carefully scrubbing the reservoir and basket with a bottle brush
  • Using a pipe cleaner to dislodge grime in the spout and nozzle
  • Running a cycle with dishwasher detergent and water for stubborn leftovers
  • Taking apart any removable pieces and washing in soapy water
  • Allowing all parts to fully air dry before reassembling

Cleaning the coffee maker regularly improves its performance and your morning brew!

The Dirtiest Kitchen Germ Zones

While focusing on cleaning dusty hidden spaces, don’t forget about the dirtiest germ zones in the kitchen. Areas touched by raw meat, chicken and eggs along with moist sinks and sponges contain the most germs.

The top germiest areas that need regular disinfecting include:

  • Kitchen sinks and faucets
  • Countertops
  • Cutting boards
  • Appliance handles and controls
  • Kitchen cabinet knobs and pulls
  • Kitchen towels and rags
  • Garbage cans
  • Pet bowls and toys
  • Dishrags and sponges

Be sure to routinely disinfect these areas and items using antibacterial wipes, chlorine bleach solution, apple cider vinegar or other natural germ-killing solutions. This helps minimize the spread of bacteria that can cause illness.

Tips for Maintaining a Clean Kitchen

No one wants to spend all their free time cleaning the kitchen. Utilize these daily and weekly habits to more easily maintain a sparkling space:

  • Always wipe down kitchen surfaces after each use to prevent buildup
  • Wash dishes, empty the sink and take out trash every night before bed
  • Quickly sweep, mop and vacuum floors at least twice weekly
  • Disinfect counters, sinks and appliance handles daily
  • Clean stove grates and the microwave interior weekly
  • Prevent grease buildup by using range hood vents while cooking
  • Keep a clutter-free kitchen to make cleaning faster
  • Store food correctly in sealed containers to minimize spills and pests

Combining daily quick cleaning with periodic deep cleaning makes kitchen maintenance much easier.

FAQs About Cleaning Hidden Kitchen Spots

What is the best way to clean inside kitchen cabinets?

  • The most effective method is to empty cabinets and use a mix of warm water, dish soap and vinegar to wash shelves, walls and surfaces. Rinse and dry fully before replacing items.

How often should you clean behind and under the refrigerator?

  • Plan to pull the refrigerator out and clean behind and underneath it every 3-4 months. This prevents excessive dust and debris buildup over time.

What’s the best way to clean grout lines on a kitchen floor?

  • Using a paste of baking soda and vinegar is excellent for lifting grease and dirt from tile and grout lines. Scrub with an old toothbrush and rinse clean. Repeat monthly.

How should you clean a garbage disposal?

  • Run ice cubes through the disposal to naturally scrub the inside. Clean monthly by pouring 1⁄2 cup baking soda followed by 1⁄2 cup vinegar down the disposal while running cold water. Let bubble up for 10 minutes before rinsing clean with more cold water.

What’s the safest way to clean kitchen cabinet tops?

  • Use a microfiber cloth dampened with a natural all-purpose cleaner to wipe down the top of cabinets. Take care when climbing on a sturdy ladder or step stool to reach safely.

How can you thoroughly clean an oven range hood?

  • Remove aluminum filters and soak in hot soapy water before rinsing and drying