How to clean a kitchen: step-by-step for sparkling results in under an hour

When you know how to clean a kitchen properly, it won't take you as long as you might expect. Heck, you might even find it fun, sprucing up those counters and shining your sink

A colorful kitchen with green tile and kitchen island
(Image credit: Neptune)

Knowing how to clean a kitchen properly is essential. Whether yours is big or tiny, rented or owned, deep cleaning your cooking space every week or so totally pays off. Aside from the key hygiene aspect, a clean kitchen is one that is a pleasure to be and cook in also. Although it might come as a surprise, once you've deep cleaned your kitchen once, keeping on top of it will be a total breeze.

The key, as with many undesirable household chores, is to just get started. Making sure you have the correct technique and tools to hand will help bring up your kitchen space like never before. From decluttering and organizing, to cleaning out appliances and sprucing hard to reach surfaces to perfection, take it one step at a time and the results will be worth it.

open plan kitchen diner with contemporary style and some scandi features by garden trading

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

How often should you clean a kitchen?

Running the dishwasher or doing the dishes by hand and wiping down countertops should be done daily, as and when a build up happens. How often you physically have to do this depends on a multitude of factors, but it will make deep cleaning your kitchen more light work and keep cooking in this space a pleasurable experience rather than a hectic one.

If you have a big family, or even just one toddler running around, if you work from home regularly or love nothing more than cooking up a storm every darn day of the week, then of course you will need to spend more time cleaning your kitchen than not. Using the best kitchen cleaners will help make the job easier. Use these daily tips to stay on top of it.

How to clean a kitchen fast

If you don't want to spend hours scrubbing, we hear you. Especially when you feel you're not that good at cleaning or haven't cleaned much before, 'it can be a little daunting to know where to start', according to Anne Clark, the founder at My Kitchen Serenity. Clark has a fool-proof basic guide to cleaning a kitchen fast: 

  • Sweep or vacuum the floor to remove any large particles or debris, then
    mob with a floor cleaner if necessary. You can make your own floor cleaner
    with vinegar and baking soda
  • Wipe down the countertops and appliances, including the oven, stovetop,
    refrigerator, and dishwasher. Then, spray an all-purpose on all of the
    surfaces to be cleaned. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe it clean
    with a cloth, sponge, or paper towel. If you don’t have an all-purpose
    cleaner, you can use a vinegar and water solution
  • Clean the sink and wipe down the faucet and handles. Again, use the
    same method as above as with your kitchen surfaces
  • Dust all of the cabinets and shelves with a clean rag or duster

This is the bare minimum and can be achieved in well under an hour. Of course, there's much more to it – if you want to deep clean a kitchen and keep it clean. What better way to show off your favorite kitchen ideas after all? 

Daily kitchen cleaning tips

  • Clean up after every meal: The rule of thumb, it seems like a faff but it is so worth it.
  • Aim for an empty sink: Striving to keep your sink empty at all times will instantly make your kitchen space seem spotless and it will make deep cleaning a doddle too.
  • Do the eye-level test: Get every last crumb by checking your countertops at eye-level after you’ve cleaned them.
  • Be strategic: Always work left to right and top to bottom. Once you've nailed this strategy, cleaning your space will be so breezy and you won't need to think about it.
  • Clean over the floor: You’ll clean your floor last so it’s fine if collects crumbs and the like.
  • Vacuum daily: It takes five minutes and it will stop staining delicate floors leading to more time when deep cleaning.
  • Empty your trash: Smelly trash is a recipe for disaster and bacteria also. Don't let it get to the point where your bag is overflowing by emptying it regularly.
  • Never overfill your dishwasher: This is a star appliance but if you overfill it, it won't clean properly. And, who wants to do the dishes twice?
  • Clear out the refrigerator frequently: Cleaning a fridge regularly will stop smells and and unsightly food display every time you go to open those doors. Aim for at least a monthly clean and get rid of old food as and when.
  • Clean that under-counter sink: You know the one we mean, and just because it's loaded with cleaning products, it doesn't mean that it's a clean space. Clear it out regularly.
  • Be minimal: Limit what you have on your countertops to keep your cooking area uncluttered, easier to clean and more visually pleasing also. 
  • Label, label, label: To stop the need to organize everything again and again, every day of the week, label your herbs and spices – whether you have a pantry or not – so that creating order is far easier and becomes more routine.

deVOL green kitchen

(Image credit: deVOL)

How to deep clean a kitchen in 45 minutes: step-by-step

On top of daily cleaning, you should be deep cleaning your kitchen on a weekly if not bi-weekly basis. Again, it depends how much the space is being used, and remember also that if you have a large family in tow, sharing the load is a wise move...

However, if you keep on top of quick daily chores, you'll soar through the following deep clean checklist in about 45 minutes flat. 

1. Clear the decks

You cannot clean a kitchen with clutter everywhere and this first step may actually take you the longest but it's also one of the most important tasks. 

This is a good time to employ Melissa Maker's, author and creator of Clean My Space, 12 O'clock method (more on that later). You start by the door, and work your way around moving everything off the counters, putting any dirty dishes in the dishwasher or in the sink to hand wash/soak.

Note that it's pretty tempting when putting the cayenne away to start reorganzing your entire herb collection, but don't. Organizing kitchen cabinets and the entire contents of your pantry for that matter is a separate job. Focus on cleaning the kitchen only.

Empty the trash, your compost and any recycling too.

2. Start the dishwasher and make a start on the sink

With everything in your dishwasher, if you have one, switch it on now. If you're hand washing, do this now then dry everything to stow away. 

With a clear sink, you can start deep cleaning process. if you know how to unblock a sink, add your unclogging cleaning agents now so that it can work as you continue to work on the rest.

Then, learn how to wash a stainless steel sink properly to remove any stains and food residue.

3. Clean your stove top

If you have gas burners or a glass-top stove that's looking grubby, start by scrubbing this down so that any burn-on food leftovers and splashes end up on the floor or on your countertops which you'll get to next.

4. Work top to bottom

Why? You'll kick yourself if you never realized that cleaning your countertops before you dust and wipe down any upper kitchen cabinets just means that you'll have to clean your counters again. So start from the top with your favorite cleaning product and a damp microfibre cloth and work your way down to your bottom cabinets.

If you are cleaning marble, granite or other natural stone worktops take care with what you use as natural products like vinegar are too acidic and can damage the finish.

If your countertops are wood, then you'll need some extra knowledge on how to clean butcher-block countertops, but it's not that difficult; you just need to be gentle.

5.  Clean left to right

And working left to right just makes it easier to ensure that you've got to everything, including big and small appliance doors like microwaves and ovens, in one smooth sweep.

Dust your fridge, and make sure you catch crumbs from your toaster or grounds from your coffee maker. We're surface cleaning here, but if you do want to set more time aside later to say, clean an oven or descale a kettle, you can get your cleaning agents started now so they have time to work their magic. 

Central breakfast bar with wooden surface, wooden floor and bar stools

(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer © Future)

6. Clean anything else in the space

If you have a breakfast bar or a dining table in your space, maybe it’s an open plan kitchen that you have – be sure to wipe down the chairs and table top also.

7. Reassess everything remaining on your counter 

With your counters clean, now you can take a good, hard look at what you're left with. If it's spick and span but still a little busy, think about what you actually use and what you actually need on display. Be ruthless here, and if the waffle iron that made an appearance 3 Christmases ago is still there collecting dust, find it a new home in your cupboards.

8. Finish cleaning the sink

Whether it's baking soda and vinegar, or your favorite cleaning product you used to clean and unblock your sink, now it's time to scrub it off. Once done, pour hot water down the plughole to unclog anything remaining. Make sure you give your taps and spout a wipe down too.

A move to the North East gave Caroline Briggs a chance to indulge her passion for reclaimed treasures and create a unique home with inspiring views

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

9. Clean the kitchen floor

All that dust and all those crumbs landed on your kitchen floor so grab your best vacuum cleaner or go old school with a broom and collect it all. 

Once it's dust-free, pick up your best mop – we like to use a flat head mop – and wipe the floor down, cleaning yourself out of the kitchen, not into a corner! Make sure you consider your kitchen's floor material, taking care not to clean with acids on engineered wood and the like.

Ceramic tile is the easiest to clean, but you can learn how to clean hardwood floors to keep them in perfect condition, too.

10. Put your kitchen back together again

Whether you need to replace the kitchen sponge that is now in the garbage can or if your need to put a new liner back into the trash can for that matter, now is the time to do it. 

Add clean kitchen towels and if decluttering your breakfast bar area now means you can add fresh flowers or your favorite candle to lightly fragrance the room, do that now too, you totally deserve it. 

11. Protect your appliances and cookware from spills

It may sound obvious, but protecting your appliances from spills in the first place will drastically reduce the amount of cleaning you have to do. Dennis Capone, a kitchen expert at My Kitchen Toolkit, recommends using cooking liners 'if you use an air fryer, toaster oven or slow cooker. There are plenty of products out there that can be inserted perfectly into your appliance to protect it from food spills - slow cooker liners like these from Amazon are an absolute game-changer.'

Don't want liners? Capone points out that 'you don't have to limit yourself to
pre-made liners – a simple sheet of aluminum foil can also do wonders
for keeping baking trays, broiler pans, and toaster ovens clean.'

Kitchen cleaning tips from celebrity cleaning experts

Melissa Maker explains her kitchen cleaning method a little more on her YouTube channel, ‘The reason I like working in this 12 o’clock starting at the door and working my way around the room way, is that I don’t miss anything.' 

How do you clean a kitchen if you're a beginner? 

If you're moving into your first home and don't have much experience cleaning a kitchen, panic can set in pretty quickly. Sara San Angelo, a professional house cleaner and blogger, appreciates that 'for those who are moving into their first apartment or house, cleaning the kitchen can seem like an overwhelming job.'

However, she has some words of reassurance: 'if you do a few certain things each day, it becomes much more manageable. I recommend doing the dishes every day, clearing and wiping the counters, and spot sweeping or cleaning up spills immediately.'

Do those dishes, and do them every day! According to San Angelo, 'an empty sink at the end of the day can really give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you
motivated to tackle bigger cleaning tasks.'

Additionally, 'keep a nice basket on the counter to throw loose items in for a quick decluttering' and keep your floor clean: 'a clean floor is the easiest and fastest way to make your house look clean.'

Your kitchen cleaning essentials

Our favorite liquid soap to use

Easy as pie!

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Former Deputy Editor

I'm Cam, the former deputy editor of Real Homes who worked on the site from 2020 to 2023. As a renter myself, sharing a home with two friends (and my cat) in London, I know all too well the challenges that this can pose when it comes to creating your perfect setup. As someone who has always loved everything interior design-related, I cannot rest until a home feels right and I am really passionate about helping others get there too, no matter what their living situation, style, or budget may be. It’s not always the easiest to figure out, but the journey is fun and the results are so worth it.

After interior design, travel, art, and photography are my next big passions. When I’m not writing or editing homes content, I’m usually tapping into other creative outlets, exploring galleries in London or further afield, taking photos, scribbling, or drawing! 

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