Keeping your rental condo in great shape is part of your job as a tenant: floors, walls, bathrooms, and, yes, the appliances in your kitchen. If you’re moving from your parents’ house or university residence to the first place that’s your own, it’s entirely probable you’ve never hit the finer points of keeping a dishwasher in good shape—and it’s worthwhile to keep that dishwasher in good shape.
So here are some Appliance Cleaning Tips to keeping your major kitchen appliances clean and working—and make sure both you and your landlord stay happy.
It’s one of the places that can get the dirtiest—after all, most of the food you have passes through there sooner or later. What’s more, a clean fridge works better at keeping your food fresh, so half an hour every month will do wonders for your grocery bill.
First off, empty it out—and take the opportunity to ditch anything that’s unfortunate, sentient, or just past its expiry date. Wipe down what’s left with a damp cloth right off the bat: There’s no point in taking all your jars, Tupperware, and containers out if they’re dripping and will just move mess back in.
If you’re into keeping things non-toxic—and that’s a good idea when talking about your fridge—a solution of vinegar and water can be enough to wipe any germs or messes out of there. Dish soap and water is also a good bet, especially if your shelves or drawers are removable and can just be popped in the sink for a scrub. But either way, a simple solution and a cloth are all you need to get the bulk of your fridge clean. Wipe down every surface—walls, seals, and ceiling—and take care of the outside while any nasty spots soak. That includes running a Swiffer or broom underneath the bottom to catch any dust or crumbs that have snuck their way down there.
Make sure your shelves and drawers are dry before popping them back in, and fill ‘er right back up.
If you’ve got a smell in your fridge that you’d rather not keep, a bit of baking soda on a tray will soak that up handily. In the absence of baking soda, fresh coffee grounds also do the trick, and the coffee smell doesn’t last.
- Get into the habit of wiping up spills as they happen. Without a chance to dry or harden, cleaning your fridge is light work.
- Stainless steel or brushed chrome fridges might need a special cleaner for the outside surfaces. Check into it; you don’t want to ruin the finish.
- A box of baking soda in the fridge door keeps smells from starting. Replace it every three months, though, or it’ll stop working when you need it most.
Your cooktop is pretty easy to keep tidy: It’s all about prevention. The more you do, bit by bit, every day or week, the less work it’ll be when you take that sucker apart and attack it with sponges.
First off, check out what kind of stove you have. If you’ve got the more traditional coil-element stove, you’ll need to score some burner liners from your local grocery or dollar store to keep food bits and debris from falling through into your stove’s insides. When it comes time for Cleaning Day, take out your elements, wipe them down lightly with a vinegar and water solution—which won’t smoke if there’s still a spot left on your element later—and recycle your aluminum liners. The metal drip pans underneath can be cleaned by soaking them in a dish soap solution in your sink. Reassemble your drip pans, new liners, and elements, making sure everything’s entirely dry.
If you have a electric glass stovetop, you’re in luck: They’re amazingly easy to maintain. Just wipe it down with warm, soapy water and a soft cloth every week or so, and put a little elbow grease in to get rid of the regular grease.
Overall, though, the day-to-day maintenance is everything. Wipe down any spills or smudges on your stovetop after cooking every meal, especially if your stove is a glass-top. What doesn’t stay on your stove doesn’t get a chance to build up.
Lots of ovens, especially the modern models you’ll find in rental condos, have a self-cleaning mode, but because they functionally scorch the dirt off your oven with high heat for you to wipe up later, it’s important to run the vent—and keep an eye on your smoke detector—while using them.
If you’re an avid baker or cook, though, the best cure is still elbow grease—and a little bit of regular attention.
Most oven cleaners are seriously caustic. It’s important to read the directions on your oven cleaner carefully, wear gloves while using it, and make sure you keep any cleaner off the pilot light or electrical connections of your oven. There are no shortcuts when handling oven-cleaning chemicals: take them seriously and you won’t damage your oven, breathe things you don’t want to breathe, or end up burning your fingers on chemical cleaners.
You can also clean your oven with the magic combo that is baking soda and vinegar. First, take off the racks and coat your oven walls—but not the heating elements—thickly with a paste made out of baking soda and water. Leave that on overnight; in the meantime, you can clean your oven racks in the bathtub with this handy tutorial.
In the morning, wipe the dried baking soda off with a damp dishtowel and a spatula, if you need it, and finish the job with a few light spray-and-wipes of white vinegar. You’ll know you’re done when the vinegar spray stops producing happy baking soda foam.
Yes, your dishwasher is an appliance for washing, but your dishwasher can still get dirty: Down in the bottom there’s a filter that keeps food bits and other random debris from getting in your drain pipes, and if you don’t clean it regularly, all that stuff and soap gunk is still there. Lurking. Waiting.
Cleaning your dishwasher grate is pretty easy. Find the grate where all that gunk has collected, get all those bits of food out of there, and wipe it down with warm, soapy water. Next, find out if your dishwasher model has a filter—you don’t want to take anything apart without some solid Googling—and if so, how to remove it. Pop that out, scrub it down with a soft toothbrush and some hot water, and then put it back together once it’s clean.
If you’ve got hard water—and lots of places in the west end do—finish off by running an empty dishwasher cycle with two cups of vinegar in the bottom. It’ll get the scaling and stains off, and leave your dishwasher good as new.
Best of luck!