Getting More Out of Your Kitchen

We're heavy into the holiday season now, and food is something that surrounds all of the holidays.  Something I cannot stress enough is the importance of your kitchen - the safety, the cleanliness, and general tips to make the most of your kitchen.  Here's a great article written by Whitney Hollingshead on these issues.  Take 5 minutes out of your busy holiday schedule to make sure your kitchen is ready!

The kitchen is probably one of the busiest rooms in your home. Here are some great tips to help keep your kitchen running as a safe, clean, and more useful space.

A Safe Kitchen

Keeping your family safe in the kitchen is a top priority. Here are some important rules to make the room a safer place:

1. When returning from the grocery store, make sure all refrigerated and frozen food is in your refrigerator/freezer less than two hours from the time it was placed in your cart. If it’s hot outside, you will only have one hour.

2. Remove colorful kitchen magnets from your fridge if you have children in the home. The bright colors are enticing to children and present a choking hazard.

3. Remove any dangling jewelry before cooking.

4. Place a damp rag or towel on the counter under your cutting board to keep the cutting board from slipping while cutting.

5. If you have children at home, use the back burners on the stove as much as possible to keep cooking food out of their reach. Never leave cooking food unattended on the stovetop.

6. If a grease fire breaks out in your kitchen, immediately cover the fire with salt or baking soda. Cover the fire with a pan or pot lid if possible. Never use water on a grease fire.

7. Never use a wet or damp cloth, towel, or hot pad when touching anything hot. Always use dry hot pads or oven mitts to avoid getting burned.

A Clean Kitchen

When it comes to cleaning the kitchen, the best solutions are those that are quick and easy to use and focus on using items you most likely already have in your kitchen. Here are some tips to help with common kitchen messes:

Tile - if you have tile anywhere in your kitchen (tile flooring, tile countertops, tile backsplash, etc.) you should try this homemade cleaner:

Kitchen Tile Cleaner
2 gallons of warm water
½ cup of baking soda

1. Mix the baking soda with the water in a bucket. Apply to tile with a sponge and scrub until clean. 2. Gently wipe with a damp cloth to polish.

Microwave - keeping the microwave clean can be a pain. Try this simple cleaning solution that uses natural ingredients:

Microwave Cleaner
1 lemon, lime, or orange, cut into small pieces
1 cup water
8 tablespoons of vinegar

1. Place the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and cook in the microwave on high for five minutes. Do not open the door for 15 more minutes. After 15 minutes, wipe out the inside with a damp rag or paper towel.

Disposal - while your disposal does help to keep your kitchen clean, at times the odors coming from the disposal can make your kitchen smell anything but clean. Try this simple cleaning tip:

Disposal Cleaner
3 tablespoons of baking soda
2 ice cubes

1. Drop the baking soda and ice cubes down into the disposal. Turn the disposal on. Run hot water while the disposal is running.

Toaster - since your bread products are often near your toaster, at some point some plastic packaging may melt and stick to your toaster. Here’s how you can get it off:

Melted Plastic on Toaster Fix
Unplug your toaster. Wait for the toaster to cool completely. Grab a bottle of nail polish remover. Rub the remover on the melted plastic until the area is clean again.

Stainless Steel Appliances - stainless steel finishes are common in the modern kitchen. Unfortunately, the surface often looks spotty or is covered in fingerprint smudges. Here’s a trick to help:

Stainless Steel Appliance Polish Tip
Pour a small amount of olive oil on a soft rag. Buff the surface of the stainless steel appliance until the surface shines.

A Useful Kitchen

In addition to having a safe and clean kitchen, you also want to make your kitchen as easy to use on a daily basis as possible. Check out these smart tips:

If you have more condiments than fit on your refrigerator door, consider placing a lazy susan turntable on one of the shelves to store the remaining condiments with easy access.

When you open any container that will be stored in the fridge, write the date on the container with a black marker. This will make it super easy for you to know when to toss the container.

Purchase coffee filters and use them to cover food heated in the microwave.

Never pour grease down the drain. For more helpful tips on dealing with your kitchen drains and plumbing concerns, check out this advice from the experts.

Keep a notepad on your fridge, or easily accessible nearby to make grocery shopping lists as you go.

Use kitchen scissors to cut herbs, green onions, cooked bacon, and even meat. Just make sure you clean the scissors thoroughly after use.

Always read a recipe start to finish before you start making anything. This way you won’t find any surprises at the end that may leave you in a lurch.

Follow these tips and common sense to make your kitchen a safer, cleaner, and more useful space.