How to Clean Kitchen Appliances

Tackle tough-to-clean appliances in your kitchen, including your dishwasher, microwave, and refrigerator.

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

Marty Baldwin

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.

What You Need

  • Vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Cloth

Step 1: Prep and Apply Cleaning Solution

Mix together equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Keep this food-safe cleaner in the refrigerator (with a label). Spray and wipe up spills as they occur.

Step 3: Do a Deep Clean

Aside from the routine cleaning, give your refrigerator a good in-depth cleaning from time to time with our guide to fridge cleaning. Remove the drawers and shelves to clean all the hidden surfaces and 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, that 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.

What You Need

  • Vinegar
  • Dishwasher-safe cup
  • Toothbrush
  • Lemon juice

Step 1: Prepare Dishwasher

Fill a dishwasher-safe cup with vinegar. Place the cup on the top rack of the empty dishwasher.

Step 2: Run Dishwasher

Run the dishwasher on the hottest, longest cycle. this will sanitize and loosen food and soap scum.

Step 3: Do a Deep Clean

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.

What You Need

  • Microwave-safe bowl
  • Cloth

Step 1: Fill Bowl and Heat

Fill a microwave-safe bowl with water and place it in the microwave. Heat, uncovered until the water starts to boil.

Step 2: Wipe Clean

The caked-on food should now be loosened, so you can easily wipe the surface clean.


How to Clean Your Kitchen Stove

Oil splatters, seasoning spills, and just about anything else you cook with will inevitably end up on your stove top. 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.

What You Need

  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Single-edged scraper
  • Damp cloth

Step 1: Clean as You Go

The key to cleaning your stove top is to be quick. Before the food bits cook onto the surface, be sure to scrub them away. (Carefully, of course, so you don't burn yourself.) After cooking and the stove top is cool, give it a good wipe down with an all-purpose cleaner sprayed on a damp cloth.

Step 2: Soak Stains and Let Sit

Soak stovetop stains in the strongest cleaner your cooktop can handle and let sit (consult the manufacturer's instructions for information about cleaners).

Step 3: Scrape Debris and Wipe Clean

Using a single-edged scraper, carefully scrape debris while holding the blade at a 30- to 40-degree angle. Wipe the cooktop clean.

How to Clean 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.

What You Need

  • Baking pan
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Sponge

Step 1: Prep Oven

Heat the oven to 225 degrees. Place a pan of water in the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Turn off the oven.

Step 2: Scrub Oven

Let the water cool and mix with dishwashing soap. Dip a sponge in the mixture and scrub the inside of the oven. To target tough spots, read these tips for oven cleaning.

white kitchen with stainless steel fridge
John Granen

How to Clean 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.

What You Need

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Towel
  • Baking soda
  • Sponge
  • Soft cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Lemon oil

Step 1: Clean Water Spots

Bring distilled white vinegar to a boil. Lay a vinegar-soaked towel on the water spot for 30 minutes. Spring with baking soda and scrub with the grain. Wipe clean and dry.

Step 2: Clean Fingerprints

Wipe with a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol.

Step 3: Add Extra Shine

Rub the surface with a soft cloth and a few drops of lemon oil

Chore chart, organization, command center

How to Clean a Washing Machine and Dryer

You might not think about cleaning the appliance that cleans your clothes, but guess what? "Clean washing machine" should be on your to-do list. Wipe down the exterior of your washing machine regularly 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.

What You Need

  • Vinegar
  • Sponge
  • Toothbrush
  • Dryer brush

Step 1: Run Washing Machine with Vinegar

Pour two cups of vinegar in the machine drum and run the longest cycle on the hottest temperature.

Step 2: Clean Washing Machine

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. Run another cycle (hottest and longest again) without vinegar or detergent.

Step 3: Clean 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.

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