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

Clean a kitchen like a pro: Deep clean counters, cabinets, the sink and everything else in an efficient fashion with our step-by-step guide

Blue kitchen by Neptune
(Image credit: Neptune)

The kitchen is without a doubt one of the most used spaces in the home so knowing how to clean a kitchen properly is a must. Because deep cleaning your space isn't that easy, that is, unless you know what you're doing and have the right tools for the job... And, that is why we're here to share all our wisdom. 

Whether you've a tiny galley or an open plan layout, the kitchen is not only where you cook – or try to cook – but it's also where household members and guests tend to flock to, bringing and leaving everything from edibles to trash which can build up so so quickly, don't we know it.

  • Make your space even more beautiful with help from our kitchen ideas edit.

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. Use these daily tips to stay on top of it.

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 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. Dreamy we know.

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.

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 realised that cleaning your counter tops 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 another natural stone worktops take care with what you use as natural products like vinegar are too acidic and can damage the finish.

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, 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 plug hole 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.

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. 

Expert tips

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.' 

Martha Stewart reminds us about our cabinet handles, 'Dust bunnies adore any exposed tops, and millwork—like the grooved fronts of Shaker cabinets— is an extra-sticky area. Unscrew the pulls and knobs, and wash them in hot, soapy water. While they're off, grab a cleaning toothbrush, suds it up, and tackle the door's nooks and crannies.' 

Your kitchen cleaning essentials

Easy as pie!

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Camille Dubuis-Welch

Camille is Digital Editor at Realhomes.com and joined the team in January 2020. As an interior design aficionado, when she’s not developing evergreen content and furiously researching keywords, she is most definitely finding new ways to spruce up her rented space, usually involving a houseplant or two. She loves the challenge that comes with making a room look stylish and feel homely, and her ultimate goal is to renovate the house of dreams, somewhere marvellously sunny with a wild and lavish garden, of course.

SPONSORS