With the coming of Spring, we all feel like entertaining our family and friends again. Easter is also on the horizon, when many of us get together for Easter Lunch, so we want to impress with a lovely fresh-looking kitchen. We’re all conscious of the need to take care of the environment so here’s a few chemical-free Spring Cleaning tips to make your kitchen sparkle again, plus some storage ideas to keep it all neat.
How do I clean my oven without using oven cleaner?
Most oven cleaners are made from strong chemicals but the everyday supermarket staple, bicarbonate of soda, can help shift dirt in your oven. Spread a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water over the surfaces of the inside of your oven – but make sure you avoid the heating elements. Leave overnight and then wipe off with a damp cloth. Any soda residues can be wiped off using distilled white vinegar. Top ovens/grill ovens can be lined at the bottom with kitchen foil to help keep clean.
Smeared or stained stainless steel pans and utensils?
Vinegar is really good for getting rid of these. Mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar with water to get rid of greasy surfaces and fingerprints, as well as reducing lime scale. This is also great for shining up your stainless steel kitchen taps, glass hobs – and mirrors!
How do I remove burnt-on areas on my pans?
The amazing bicarbonate of soda is really effective for stainless steel, cast-iron and non-stick pans. It’s a mild alkali that can dissolve dirt and grease. For the outside of the pan, just cover the area with a thick layer and leave overnight. Then wipe off the brown bits, using a gentle scouring sponge if necessary. For the inside, add some water to the bicarb of soda and heat briefly. Turn off the heat and leave the solution for 24 hours. Wash out, rinse and dry. Do not use this method for aluminium pans, instead for these, you can remove water tide marks by boiling water with sliced apple of lemon peel. Lemon halves dipped in salt or baking powder can be used to brighten up copper pans.
Defeat dusty cupboard tops
Instead of trying to reach to the back of dusty cupboard tops to get the surfaces completely clean, try laying a piece of cloth or kitchen paper on the top, which you can just remove and replace every so often.
Clear out old spices, tins of soup and frozen food
Two words…Be Ruthless! We all have that more unusual jar of spice that we used once for the latest fad recipe and never used again. Chances are that it’s out of date by several years and lost its flavour, so you won’t be using it again. Just chuck it out, rinse the jar and recycle. Same goes for old tins of soup or vegetables that are taking up valuable space at the back of the cupboard. Any meat, fish or bread that’s been in the freezer for more than a year should go too. It may sound like a waste but if it’s been there a year, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll eat it! As a basic guide, frozen cooked meat should really only be kept for up to three months.
If badly chipped, this create a breeding ground for bacteria, so unless is has real sentimental value, it is best to get rid of it. The additional risk of using chipped crockery is that there is a risk it might break if hot food or liquids are on or in it, resulting in hot food ending up on you, rather than on the crockery!
Store and stack
Storing dry ingredients, such as sugar, rice, lentils, oats etc., look much better stored in jars than left in cardboard or plastic bags rammed haphazardly on the shelves. Ingredients falling out every time you open the cupboard door is a potential hazard and if you have open shelving it just looks messy. Kilner or Mason jars are readily available in a range of sizes so can be stackable and will keep the ingredients much fresher for longer. Remember to add a label to the top of each jar, to include the ‘use by’ date.
You can also buy shelf rack organisers. These are available in various sizes, either in singles or stackable options, the latter being useful for differing size jars, tins and glass bottles. Some come with in-built handles making them easier to remove. Graduated, tiered organisers are also readily available for deep but narrow shelving, allowing for items to be stacked at the back to be readily seen. Another option for very high shelving is an under-shelf storage basket.
If you’re short on shelving space for mugs, then a shelf insert will allow you to stick mugs without the risk of chipping. Alternatively, use cup hooks underneath an open shelf, this makes a feature out of your mugs and doesn’t look as cluttered as a mug tree.
Tidy away washing up liquid, kitchen cleaner and spare anti-bac liquid soaps by investing in an under-sink storage unit that can be easily pulled out to clean. Over cabinet door organisers are an option for those with smaller cupboards.
You’ll find any number of other storage and space saving ideas online.