Tackle tough-to-clean appliances in your kitchen with these smart tricks. We'll show you the secrets to cleaning a dishwasher, microwave, and refrigerator.

By Alicia Chilton
Updated February 27, 2019
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The clean kitchen of your dreams isn't far away. While striking cabinets, pretty paint colors, and stylish decor make for a stunning kitchen, grimy and dirty appliances can ruin the vibe. Fortunately, achieving clean appliances only takes a bit of work and a little know-how. Cleaning appliances might seem like a long afternoon task, but with our step-by-step instructions for how to clean appliances, your kitchen appliances can be spotless in next to no time.

How to Clean a Refrigerator

A clean refrigerator can change your kitchen in more ways than one. Aside from looking nice, a clean fridge can rid your home of odors, expired foods, and unsightly clutter. Here’s how to clean a refrigerator the easy way:

  1. Mix together equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Keep this food-safe cleaner in the refrigerator (with a label) so it’s on hand to clean up spills.
  2. Spray and wipe up spills as they occur.

Aside from the routine cleaning, give your refrigerator a good in-depth cleaning from time to time with our guide to fridge cleaning. Remove drawers and shelves to clean all the hidden surfaces and clean the door gasket. Refrigerators also benefit from an organization makeover to bring order and eliminate clutter.

How to Clean a Dishwasher

Just because a dishwasher's job is to clean, doesn't mean it never needs a cleaning itself. In fact, you should be cleaning your dishwasher just as often as your shower or sink. To keep foul odors from lingering and to protect against grime buildup, check out our easy steps for how to clean a dishwasher.

  1. Fill a dishwasher-safe cup with vinegar.
  2. Place the cup on the top rack of the empty dishwasher.
  3. Run the dishwasher on the hottest, longest cycle. This will sanitize and loosen food and soap scum.

For a heavy-duty dishwasher cleaning, tackle the tops and sides of the door, and remove all the accessories and removable parts and give them a good scrubbing. Use a soft toothbrush to clean the spray arm and remove any debris caught in the sprayers. Finally, tackle any hard water deposits by using the vinegar cleaning method above, but replace the vinegar with lemon juice.

How to Clean a Microwave

Soup, sauce, and grease splatters coat the inside of your microwave on a weekly basis. All that buildup isn't pleasant to look at or cook with. The good news is that knowing how to clean a microwave is a quick study and easier than you may think. With just a bowl of water, you have a chemical-free way to get your appliance looking like new.

  1. Fill a microwave-safe bowl with water and place it in the microwave.
  2. Heat, uncovered, until the water starts to boil.
  3. The caked-on food should now be loosened, so you can easily wipe the surface clean.

How to Clean Your Kitchen Stove and Oven

Oil splatters, seasoning spills, and just about anything else you cook with will inevitably end up on your stove top. The key to cleaning your stove top is to be quick. Before the food bits cook onto the surface, be sure to scrub it away. (Carefully, so you don’t burn yourself, of course!) After cooking and the stove top is cool, give it a good wipe down with an all-purpose cleaner sprayed on a damp cloth. But even if splatters sit for a day or two, there's still hope. Here's how to clean a stove top and get your glass cooktop back to sparkling.

  1. Soak the stain in the strongest cleaner your cooktop can handle and let sit.
  2. Using a single-edged scraper, carefully scrape the debris while holding the blade at a 30- to 40-degree angle.
  3. Wipe the cooktop clean.

You can't clean your stove top and ignore your oven! If you can see built-up grime or worrisome smoke, it's time to get the cleaning gloves out before it becomes a major problem. The good news is that cleaning an oven is easy to master. Check out our foolproof tips for how to clean an oven using natural ingredients.

  1. Heat oven to 225 degrees.
  2. Place a pan of water in oven. Let sit at least 15 minutes. Turn off oven.
  3. Let water cool and mix with dishwashing soap. Dip a sponge in the mixture and scrub the inside of oven.
  4. To target tough spots, read these tips for oven cleaning.

Cleaning Stainless-Steel Appliances

Cleaning a stainless-steel surface might sound like an oxymoron (shouldn’t stainless mean spotless?), but if you have stainless-steel appliances, you know it's eventually a must. Water spots, fingerprints, and smudges are so distracting in the kitchen, and they build up fast. Before they drive you bonkers, here's how to clean stainless-steel appliances and wipe away those marks—including dark water stains!

  1. For water spots: Bring distilled white vinegar to a boil. Lay a vinegar-soaked towel on the water spot for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with baking soda and scrub with the grain. Wipe clean and dry.
  2. For fingerprints: Wipe with a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol.
  3. For extra shine: Rub surface with a soft cloth and a few drops of lemon oil.

How to Clean a Washing Machine

You might not think about cleaning the appliance that cleans your clothes, but guess what? "Clean washing machine" should be on your chore to-do list. Wipe down the exterior of your washing machine on the regular and give the inside an in-depth clean every six months. Before you groan, know that this biannual cleaning can be quite easy: it only takes three steps and the washing machine does much of the heavy lifting.

  1. Pour two cups of vinegar in the machine drum and run the longest cycle on the hottest temperature.
  2. After the cycle is complete, mix 1/4 cup vinegar with a quart of warm water. Use a sponge and toothbrush dipped in the mixture to wipe down the inside of the machine, the soap dispenser (if yours is removable, take it out and let it soak in the vinegar and water before scrubbing), and the rubber seal, if you have a front loader.
  3. Run another cycle (hottest and longest again) without vinegar or detergent.

And we can’t mention washing machines without giving nod to their constant companion: the dryer. Clean out the lint screen or filter before every load and clean the lint trap (the compartment where the screen or filter sits) from time to time. You’ll find specialty dryer brushes at home centers that bend to get into the trap compartment. Beyond these routine tasks, check out this dryer cleaning and care guide for annual cleaning and tips on how to remove stains from inside the drum.

How to Clean Small Appliances

Don’t let their diminutive sizes fool you—small appliances can be just as important in the kitchen as the big guys. And while they may take up less space, they still attract their fair share of grime. Give small appliances a wipe-down after you use them and do a more in-depth cleaning from time to time. How often depends on the frequency of use. Use a small toothbrush to clean all the crevices and be sure to tackle the undersides of the appliance, too. And make sure the appliance is unplugged during your cleaning session. Some appliances, like a coffee maker, need an internal cleaning, too. Follow this guide on how to clean a coffee maker and you’ll have better-tasting coffee (and a better running machine) in no time.

Comments (1)

Anonymous
March 19, 2019
or buy a steam cleaner!!