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This article is shared with permission from our friends at Natural Living Ideas.

Cleaning the kitchen is one of those less-than-thrilling household chores that simply has to be done.

In fact, when NSF International, the public health and safety organization, conducted a study to find the ‘germiest room in the home’, they discovered it was the kitchen!

Clearly, scrubbing this area – where our food is prepared – should be top priority…but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a few shortcuts!

Try these nifty tips and tricks to enjoy a sparkling kitchen with minimal effort.

1. Sanitize Sponges in the Microwave

With up to one million bacteria per square inch on an average dish cloth and a whopping 10 million per square inch on a kitchen sponge, these cleaning tools need regular sanitization!

In the NSF study referenced above, kitchen sponges were found to be the germiest items in the entire house! To kill microbes and stay healthy, just zap the sponges in the microwave for two minutes.

2. Unblock Stinky Drains with Baking Soda and Vinegar

In just five short minutes, you can loosen up grimy sludge and say goodbye to those disgusting odors emanating from the drain by using hot water, vinegar and baking soda. Here is the method.

3. Clean Baking Trays and Dirty Pans with Lemon

Soak pans, pots, baking dishes and cookie sheets in hot water with baking soda and fresh lemon and watch the grease slide right off. You can also rub half a lemon around stainless steel cookware for extra shine before rinsing and allowing to air dry.

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4. Dissolve Water Stains with Vinegar

Hard water can leave a dull, white crust on all manner of shiny surfaces – from the sink to silverware to the fridge water dispenser. Gently rub vinegar into these stains to make your kitchen items gleam like new again.

5. Deodorize Smelly Kitchen Towels with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Kitchen towels are exposed to all kinds of food, drink and other grime – meaning they can soon stain and stink! If conventional laundry powder never seems to make them smell rosy, try using simple baking soda and vinegar (with optional essential oils) in the washing machine – those odors will just disappear. Here is the method.

6. Clean Grill Grates with Onion

Simply take half a peeled, white onion and rub it back and forth over the grates of a hot grill. This both deglazes the grates and adds an extra layer of flavor to your dinner!

7. Scrub Cast Iron Pans with Sea Salt

Soap shouldn’t be used on cast iron as it can ruin the seasoning. Instead, simply use a steel scouring pad and some coarse sea salt to cut through the grease.

8. Add Shine to Wood with Coconut Oil

Wooden surfaces like kitchen cabinets and dining tables benefit every now and then from a coconut oil rub – making them look glossy and new. The oil will also remove oil-soluble impurities and dust particles while its lauric acid content kills microbes. Here is the method.

9. Deep Clean Wooden Cutting Boards with Lemon and Salt

Given that the average cutting board has about 200% more fecal bacteria than the average toilet, keeping them clean is vital. Don’t bother with expensive products though – a lemon and some coarse salt is all you need to remove hidden germs and grime. Here is the method.

10. Clean a Scorched Iron with Salt

Get rid of those burn marks on the plate of your iron with this simple trick. Spread several heaping tablespoons of table salt on a soft cloth and rub the heated iron back and forth until the scorch marks disappear. Once the iron is cool, rub with a damp cloth.

11. Make the Microwave Sparkle by Zapping Vinegar

Steam clean the inside of your microwave by heating a bowl of vinegar and water for ten minutes, before wiping. Here is the method. (Top tip: place a wooden item like a spoon or chopstick in the bowl to avoid the risk of superheated liquid.)

12. Kill Germs in Your Coffee Machine

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These germ-filled machines can be easily cleaned by filling the water chamber with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Allow the machine to run until all the liquid has passed through. Repeat twice more with plain water before using normally.

13. Eliminate Coffee Mug Stains with Baking Soda

If your favorite morning coffee mug is looking a little worse for wear, don’t waste time and energy scrubbing it with plain dish soap. Let baking soda do the work for you: sprinkle the powder on the stains, dampening with a dash of water. After ten minutes, gently scrub the inside of the mug with a little more baking soda on a damp cloth – this acts as an abrasive agent. The stains should simply rinse away.

14. Remove Pet Hairs with a Squeegee

Pet hairs can be a nuisance – especially when they build up on mats or carpets. Instead of breaking your back trying to vacuum these hairs out; just rub a squeegee over the hairs and they should come away easily.

15. Wash Inside Bottles with Rice

Bottles with narrow necks or irregular shaped jars are pretty and interesting – but they can be next to impossible to clean. This ingenious trick – using water, soap, and a little rice – solves the problem. Here is the method.

16. Shine up Glasses with Vinegar

Over time, minerals in your water can cause a build-up on your glassware. Other times, the dishwasher simply isn’t doing its job! Whatever the cause, you can easily achieve perfectly sparkling, clear glasses by rubbing them with a soft cloth dabbed with a little vinegar. Once they dry, the smell (and taste!) of the vinegar will dissipate.

17. Clear Out Your Coffee or Spice Grinder with Bread

Can’t get the last few bits of ground up coffee or spices out of the bottom of the grinder? No problem, throw in some soft white bread, grind it up and then dump it out.

18. Dust by Walking Around!

Possibly the laziest kitchen cleaning hack of them all, this one simply requires that you wear chenille socks as you go about your day. They work just like a Swiffer but you don’t even know you’re cleaning!

19. Fix Burnt Pots with Baking Soda and Vinegar

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Took your eye off the stove and now your best pan is destroyed? Don’t relegate it to the landfill just yet. Fill the burnt pan with water and two cups of vinegar. Bring this to the boil, take it off the heat and add two tablespoons of baking soda. Allow to stand for two minutes before scrubbing – the burnt stains should easily come away.

20. Unclog a Cheese Grater with Potato

Cleaning dried-in cheese from a grater is no easy feat! The next time this happens, grate a potato – it will push the cheese out of the grater and make it so easy to wipe clean.

21. Clean the Blender by Flicking a Switch

As delicious and nutritious as green smoothies are, cleaning the blender afterwards is no fun. Cut out this task completely by immediately filling the blender halfway with water and adding two drops of dish soap. Flick the switch and blend for a few seconds before rinsing clean. Voila!

22. Absorb Nasty Fridge Odors with Ground Coffee

Spread freshly ground coffee evenly on a plate and put it in the fridge for 24 hours. You’ll no longer open your refrigerator door to be greeted by the smell of yesterday’s leftovers.

23. Clean the Dishwasher with Mugs of Vinegar

The very item you use to clean your dishes could be making them dirtier, which is why monthly deep cleans are essential. This need not be an onerous task – simply fill two mugs with white vinegar, placing one on the top rack and one on the bottom and leaving the rest of the dishwasher empty. Run a hot cycle and the dishwasher will sparkle.

24. Freshen Up the Garbage Disposal with a Lemon

To get rid of bad odors, just cut a lemon in half and shove it in garbage disposal. Grind this for ten seconds while the water is running.

25. Get Rid of Kitchen Cabinet Gunk with Vegetable Oil and Baking Soda

Blend these two ingredients and scrub your cabinet doors for an inexpensive way to clean and shine in one. Here is the method.

26. Remove Baked-on Grime from the Oven Naturally

This DIY job costs practically nothing to make, is free from harsh chemicals and doesn’t involve breaking a sweat. You’ll need tried and trusty baking soda and vinegar along with lemon, hydrogen peroxide and dish soap. Here is the method.

27. Clean Bathroom Tiles

Combine 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide and pour into a small spray bottle. Be sure to use gloves as you spray the mixture onto grubby tiles. Leave for about 5 minutes, then scrub and rinse off. (You can also add about 1 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent).

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