Like most of us, our viewer Christina—a mom of five (all under age six!)—from Brooklyn, New York, feels like she's constantly cleaning her kitchen, but wonders, is it really getting clean?
We wanted to help her find out, so we brought in cleaning and organizing pro Peter Walsh. Read on (and watch the video above) to find out what we discovered when we swabbed surfaces in Christina's kitchen and sent them to a lab for testing… and get Peter's six steps to a kitchen that doesn't just look clean, but is truly clean.
1. Declutter First, Then De-Germ Your Countertops
"The countertop had some of the highest levels of bacteria, germs, yeast and mold. And the sink and faucet had high levels," says Peter.
"I'm surprised because those are the areas that I really clean all the time," says Christine.
Peter calls the area between the sink, refrigerator and cooktop the "magic triangle" where you need to focus your cleaning energy, because that's where you spend the most time working. The first step is decluttering your countertops to make sure you can really sanitize the area. His tip? "Don't put it down, put it away."
Once you've decluttered, he recommends using an antibacterial cleaning product that will clean what you can see, but also disinfect what you can't see.
2. Tackle the Built-Up Residue On Your Stovetop
Take off the removable burners and put them in a gallon storage bag and add a half a cup of ammonia. Let them sit for a couple of hours. The action of the ammonia on the burners will remove all the built-up residue.
3. Make Your Sink Shine
"You can make a stainless steel sink look brand-new by simply sprinkling it with baking soda and then scouring it clean with a nylon sponge," says Peter.
4. Give The Disposal Some Love
Even though water is constantly running through your garbage disposal, that doesn't necessarily mean it's getting clean. Little chunks of food can get stuck behind and make your kitchen smelly, so you want to be sure to clean it every so often.
Use Peter's method: throw lemon rind and white vinegar into your sink, then run the disposal and enjoy your fresh-smelling kitchen!
5. Don't Forget About The Garbage Can
Peter advises that you need to wipe down your garbage can at least once per week. If you want to make changing out the bags easier on yourself, leave some empty bags at the bottom of the can so you don't have to go get one when you take the garbage out.
6. Beware of Germy Bags + Phones
You carry your bag and your phone everywhere. You might set it on the ground while you're getting in and out of your car. You might place it on the subway seat next to you. You probably bring it with you into public restrooms. Point being, you're picking up germs just about everywhere you go.
So when you come home and you set it on your kitchen table or counter, you just deposited all those yucky germs onto your eating surface (yikes!). Peter recommends you sanitize surfaces after items like your phone or bag have touched them.