20 – Day Challenge

The 20-Day Challenge is in the home stretch – and your home is looking better each day. In the FINAL WEEK of our holiday cleaning countdown, we focus on the kitchen.

holiday-cleaning-refrigerator

No matter how hard you try to prevent it, everyone ends up congregating in the kitchen. And some of your friends will want to help you prepare the meal. This puts your drawers and appliances at risk of public viewing. Whether your friends are actually helpful in the kitchen or not, it’s a safe bet that someone will have a reason to look for something in your refrigerator, for example.

So, day at the time, you can really deep clean those “special” places that need attention by following the 20-Day Challenge:

DAY 14 Refrigerator: Start by purging all the outdated condiments and old leftover containers in your refrigerator.  Once it’s emptied, remove the shelves or racks. Soak them in the sink with soapy hot water. Meanwhile, spray the the walls and floor inside the refrigerator with distilled white vinegar and water (instead of a cleanser – you don’t want to use any strong cleaners around your food) and wipe away splashes, spills, dried food and crumbs.

Returning to the shelves, rinse and wipe with a dry microfiber cloth and replace them in the fridge.

Clean the outside of the fridge with the diluted vinegar solution. If there is a water dispenser feature, make sure to clean under the catch basin (it can be the dirtiest spot in your kitchen) as well as the dispenser buttons and nozzles.

DAY 15 – Oven: Today the focus is your oven. For self-cleaning ovens, make sure to run the cleaning cycle so the inside looks nice and clean. Just as with the fridge, one of your friends will bring something that needs cooking or re-heating and they will be looking inside your oven.  But if your oven does not have a self-cleaning feature, make your own oven cleaner with just baking soda and a spray bottle of vinegar.  Mix the baking soda with some water to make a paste and smear it on the walls and the floor of your oven. Then spray the vinegar over the baking soda. You will see the baking soda start to foam and the reaction will start a “lifting” action that will gently remove buildup on your oven walls. Let the baking soda mixture stay on overnight, re-spraying it with the vinegar 4-6 times during the evening before going to bed. The next morning the mixture will wipe off with just a wet microfiber cloth.

holiday-cleaning-microwave

DAY 16 – Microwave & Small Aplliances: Just like your other appliances, the microwave will not escape public scrutiny. Fortunately it can be cleaned quickly:  Place a bowl full of lemon juice inside and heat it for a minute or two on HIGH. When the lemon juice starts to boil, the acid in the steam will eat away at any build-up, allowing you to you wipe it away with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. The microwave will smell very fresh and clean. Remove burnt-on food with a soapy scrubby sponge, then rinse and dry.

Empty crumbs from the toaster or toaster oven and wipe surfaces and knobs clean with a damp microfiber cloth. Wipe down bases of mixers, food processors and blenders as well.

holiday-cleaning-kitchen-drawer

DAY 17 – Drawers & Cabinet Exteriors: Your helpful friends will also be looking in all your drawers for serving spoons or potholders or who knows what. On this day, clean and organize the drawers.  Skip the junk drawer ONLY you are short on time. Following this simple process, all the drawers can be emptied and cleaned in an hour (remember the focus is the drawers, not all the cabinets).

Start with the silverware drawer and put all the utensils in the dishwasher. Remove the silverware holder and vacuum all the crumbs out of the drawer. Then just wipe the base and sides with a microfiber cloth damp with warm, soapy water. Rinse and dry the silverware holder and return it and the cleaned and dried silverware to the drawer after the dishwasher cycle is completed. Do the same to your other drawers, washing kitchen utensils, knives and shears in the dishwasher so they are ready for your event.  Now when someone goes pull open a drawer, you won’t have to worry about what they might find.

Spot clean cabinet exteriors with a damp microfiber cloth. Treat wood cabinet exteriors with a wood feeder.

holiday-cleaning-coffee-pot

DAY 18 – Coffee Pot: Having a friend make a fresh pot of coffee can be an embarrassing moment if the coffee pot has build-up in it that they have to clean off before feeling comfortable to make the next pot of coffee.  You can avoid this by scrubbing the coffee pot with warm water and placing all the pieces in the dishwasher. For really serious buildup, rinse the pot then put a tablespoon of uncooked rice, grits or oatmeal (not the instant kind!) on the bottom. Add some dish soap to a damp sponge, place it over the uncooked food and scrub the inside and bottom glass. Uncooked and dry, these foods have an abrasive quality that safely scours dried-on residue.

DAY 19 – Serving Dishes & Dinnerware: Wash all serving dishes, dinnerware and glasses in the dishwasher and start a normal cycle. Move all small appliances and clean counters beneath with a soapy microfiber, then rinse with a damp one. Dry counter and replace small appliances. Then, clean all remaining counter space in this same way. Empty dishwasher and set the dining table.

holiday-cleaning-kitchen-counter

DAY 20 – Counters & Final Touches: Spend some time clearing off your counter tops and make sure there is plenty of room for the food your guests will bring.  You may even want to set up an extra table or two for serving platters that don’t fit on the counters or the kitchen table.

Place floral arrangements before guests arrive.

holiday-cleaning-narcissus-flowers

Voila! In just 20 days you were able to get these three rooms fresh and clean and ready for your guests, spending only about an hour a day cleaning.  The Holiday Clean Up Countdown – 20 Day Challenge is easy and thorough for the rooms include in the plan, and can be modified for any time of year and any entertaining event.

May your holidays sparkle as much as your home!

Detailed cleaning instructions for Week 1 of the 20 Day Challenge are available as well.

Week 2 of the 20 Day Challenge is also available.

Download the printable PDF guide, Holiday Clean Up Countdown – 20 Day Challenge.