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5 Tips for Cleaning for Fall

Winterizing Your Kitchen

OK, so it isn't glamorous, but a good kitchen overhaul every once in a while helps keep germs and grease buildup under control. It also makes everything smell fresher and look brighter. Apart from regular maintenance, this is the time to wash the curtains, replace the shelf liners, remove and clean the ceiling fixtures and review all the bottles and cans that have taken up residence under the sink. This seems like a big job now, but once you've started to work, it will go fast.

This is also the time to give your major appliances some attention:

  • Refrigerator -- Yes, the refrigerator gets dirty enough for a serious cleaning, even though you spot-clean drips and spills right after they happen. Take the time to remove all the contents as well as the shelves, racks, bins and trays. Wash everything with an antibacterial cleaner. Don't forget the door gasket. Door gaskets help create a good seal that keeps the warm air out and the cool air in, so clean it now and make sure that it stays clean.Don't stop with the interior, either. Haul out the vacuum cleaner and clean the condenser coils on the back or bottom of your refrigerator, too. You'll probably have to pop out the decorative grill below the refrigerator door. Clean condenser coils will save you energy dollars by helping your refrigerator run more efficiently.Before you put everything back, be sure to check the condiments and other stuff that tends to accumulate at the back for freshness dates. Keep everything smelling sweet by putting a stocking filled with activated charcoal or an open box of baking soda on one of the shelves.
  • Stove -- No one likes cleaning the stove, but short of buying a new one, it's inevitable. If your model is self-cleaning, then you probably know the drill and can pass on some of the scrubbing.If you detest oven cleaners, you can place a cup of ammonia in a ceramic dish in the oven overnight to loosen some of the baked on stuff, or heat the oven to warm and the ammonia will work a little faster. Be sure to wear gloves and open all nearby windows.As for the outside, your oven's owner's manual will have some cleaning recommendations. By all means, use their guidelines for wiping down the stovetop and range hood, and don't forget to clean the range hood's charcoal insert if your model has one [source: Heloise].Now, pull the stove out and tackle the dust bunnies and any grime on the sides.
  • Dishwasher -- Who knew that an appliance whose sole purpose is to get things clean could get so dirty? For this job, use some baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe down the interior liner. You can clean and deodorize at the same time. For stubborn stains, try using a plastic scrubber.

Moving on, let's take a look at the next spot we want to clean and rejuvenate: the car.