No matter where you live, your kitchen will always be a gathering space for you, your partner, and your friends. Kitchens are a place of comfort because it’s where you nourish the body with food and drink.
Sharing a meal in your kitchen inspires hospitality, and your friends and family will appreciate the effort. But when the meal is done, you may notice that your cabinets and stainless appliances look a bit worse for wear.
Quickly tackling these stains is key to keeping your surfaces in good condition, but you need a definitive guide on how to accomplish this. Here are some tips to help you clean the grease off your kitchen surfaces without damaging them.
Items to keep on hand
There are a few items you should have available regardless of what you are cleaning:
- A good pair of rubber gloves or a box of disposable nitrile gloves
- Dawn dish soap
- Baking soda
- Olive oil
- White vinegar
- Spray bottles
A spray bottle or two is a good idea for when you make a homemade cleaner. Some prefer to use glass spray bottles, however, there’s no problem in using a plastic spray bottle from the dollar store. Most of these items will clean grease off of every surface in your kitchen without damaging them. Bob Vila’s recipe using Castile soap is recommended for those who are concerned with “chemicals you might not want around your food-prep areas.”
Kitchen cabinets are the easiest to clean. No matter what they are made of, they generally have coatings, sealants, or glass surfaces. They also get dirty very quickly from spills and splatters. If you’re going to use a commercial cleaner and your cabinets are made of wood, Murphy’s Oil Soap is a great product that cleans and protects.
If you’d like a simple DIY formula, use a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and warm water, then add two-three drops of dish detergent. Apply using your spray bottle, leave it for a minute or two, and then wipe it off with a soft cloth.
For stubborn stains, mix a paste of salt and vinegar, and gently scrub the stain with a soft cloth or soft toothbrush. A 15-page report by Denise G. Dias of K. State Research & Extension titled “Homemade Cleaners” states that this mixture is an all-purpose cleaning agent, a good surface cleaner and great for avoiding exposure to hazardous household disinfecting chemicals.
There’s nothing like the look of polished stainless steel. It’s bright, it’s durable, and looks so clean. Until it doesn’t. Stainless picks up everything from dust and grease to fingerprints and water spots. Keeping stainless surfaces looking their best takes a minute if you do it every day, but you’ll need something a bit stronger if you don’t.
If you’re a person who cleans everything in the kitchen every day, your microfiber cloth will take care of your stainless surfaces perfectly. Just rub them down with the grain, and you’re set. If you clean on weekends, an excellent product to clean the grease off stainless surfaces is Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner + Polish. It’s like a secret weapon for your stainless steel.
Natural stone surfaces and countertops
Your kitchen may be graced with beautiful granite or marble countertops. These surfaces are usually sealed before they are installed, but sealants need to be applied regularly to keep the surfaces stain-resistant. Stone is porous and can be damaged with acidic cleaners and harsh chemicals. It may be tempting to use a lemon or an orange oil grease cutter on your counters, but it’s important to resist that urge.
For a well-sealed countertop, blotting with clean, dry paper towels works best. If you feel the need to use soap, use a pH-neutral soap such as Frosch pH-Neutral Universal Cleaner to ensure you clean the stone without acid to damage the counter.
- If you think the stone seal has been compromised, cornstarch is your best friend. Use gloves if you find cornstarch irritating.
- Make a poultice of cornstarch and water using ¼ cup of cornstarch and one tablespoon of water at a time until it has the consistency of a paste.
- Dampen the grease-stained area with a sponge by pressing gently.
- Apply the cornstarch paste to the area.
- Cover it with plastic wrap and press on it firmly.
- Using a toothpick, poke holes in the plastic wrap to allow drying. This drying process is what makes the cornstarch absorb the oil.
- Let it dry for one-two days, then remove the plastic and paste.
- If the stain isn’t completely gone, repeat the process.
- Once the stain is removed, clean the surface with neutral soap and dry thoroughly.
A modern trend in kitchen design is to construct the countertops from concrete. It gives a sleek and austere look and feel, and the neutral color goes with everything. Similar to stone counters, concrete counter installers seal the surface before use. However, some people prefer a raw look without sealant. It looks good, but is highly susceptible to staining, especially from grease and oil.
The paste-under-plastic wrap method works well for concrete countertops and uses different ingredients and a slightly different process. Where the cornstarch was allowed to dry under the perforated plastic, the acetone in the following procedure works on the stain under the plastic first without drying. Make sure you have proper ventilation to employ this cleaning method.
- Make a paste with the consistency of peanut butter from baking soda, flour (or powdered sugar), and acetone.
- Spread the paste on the stain.
- Cover it with plastic wrap and tape the edges to maintain the seal.
- Leave for 24 hours.
- Remove the plastic and let the paste dry — it is during this drying process that the baking soda and flour draw out the oils from the stain.
- Make sure it is completely dry before you remove it from the countertop.
It’s important to note that acetone can damage some sealants, so make sure you know what type of sealant is on your counter.
Always remember that prevention is the best way to protect your kitchen surfaces. Dirt and grease are unavoidable on many surfaces, but keeping some protective heat-resistant pads, lots of kitchen towels, and attractive trivets will extend the life and looks of your stone and concrete counters. And always do your research to avoid possible damage to your living space.
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