So, you want a spotless kitchen? Cecilia David, microbiologist-in-charge, Vivanta by Taj-Surya, says it’s simple

Draw up three schedules to keep your cooking space clean, says Cecilia David who looks after hygiene at Vivanta By Taj-Surya. A daily, weekly and a monthly break-up of the cleaning chores will keep your kitchen clean 24X7. It is also an opportunity to get more eco-sensitive and learn about cleaning/disposing garbage responsibly.

EVERY DAY

Tip: Always clean from top to bottom. Do the floor last. The entire process should not take you more than half an hour.

After cooking and transferring food into the serving bowls, move them aside (to the dining table or side of the counter). Transfer soiled vessels from the countertop to the sink. Clean the stove, the blender, oil canister as it usually sits next to the stove, the tiles behind the stove, and the counter top. If you have used the microwave/over, wipe them out as well. Pay attention to areas around and under kitchen gadgets.

Put washing liquid concentrate on heavily greasy vessels (kadai, tava, etc) and allow to soak. In the meanwhile, wash the lighter vessels and crockery with a sponge. A coarse scrubber may leave scratches on the glassware/non-stick vessels. Rinse well till water runs clear and there is no residual soap on the vessels. Now move to the soaking vessels. Scrub with warm water if necessary to remove the grease. Allow water to drain from the vessels. Wipe, dry and put away.

Clean out the bins.

Sweep and mop the floor, taking care to cover the areas behind the cylinder and under the refrigerator.

Kitchen cloths should be washed every day. Damp smelly cloths lead to unpleasant odour. Keep the kitchen dry.

WEEKLY

This is a more thorough cleaning. This means inside-out cleaning of heavy equipment.

The Fridge Defrost and empty the fridge of all its contents. Remove the trays, including the ice-trays. Wipe the fridge inside out with a combination of water and white vinegar in equal proportion. Pay attention to the nooks and crannies, behind the rubber piping, handles… Wipe clean with fresh, soft cloth. Take care to organise your food in the refrigerator. Freshly cooked food should be on the topmost rack. The raw meat and fish should be stored at the bottom shelf so that it does not drip into the cooked food. This prevents cross-contamination. Change the water in the ice trays. Clean water-bottles well with warm water and a bottle brush. Pay attention to the caps. Dry well before refilling and putting them in.

Check the foodstuff. Throw out anything that is date-expired/spoilt/can’t remember when you put it in. To tackle food odour in the fridge, take a small quantity of baking powder in a container and keep it inside. Alternatively, dilute a drop of peppermint essence/oil in water and dipping a cloth in it wipe the fridge dry. But be careful you don’t use too much of the essence as it is strong and could overpower other foodstuff you have in your fridge.

Microwave Clean the inside thoroughly with a cloth dipped in water/vinegar combination. Remove the glass tray and the ring and clean them too.

Blender Put a mixture of dishwashing liquid and warm water into the blender. Run the machine. This will take care of any food particles stuck beneath the blade. Throw out the water and run the machine again more than once with just warm water so that it takes out any residual soap.

Coffee Maker Mix vinegar and warm water in equal parts and run a brewing cycle. Repeat the cycle another couple of times with only warm water.

Drainage Most important! Clear the sink and clean with soap and water. Pour equal parts baking soda (not baking powder) and white vinegar into the sinkhole. Allow to stand. You will notice some foaming which means the cleaning is underway. After a few minutes pour boiling water to chase down the soda/vinegar. This will clean the drain pipe, remove any grease and kill bacteria.

MONTHLY

Once a month you have to clean the draw pulls, the tap heads, door handles, wall tiles, exhaust, cobwebs, window mesh, light fixtures and switches. All of the above can be cleaned with a combination of water and white vinegar. Be extra careful when you are wiping down electrical fixtures. If there is heavy grease, then use just vinegar. Stubborn stains can also be cleaned with baking powder. Use a toothbrush to reach the corners. Even if you use garbage bags for the bins make sure you clean the bins thoroughly once a week. Segregating kitchen waste is beneficial to health.

Check the cupboards and vegetable tray before you set out to buy your monthly provisions and fresh produce. It is a good way to discover things you have put away and forgotten about. This is also an ideal time to bring down storage containers and wipe the shelves clean.

Do you have these in your kitchen?

The idea is to use as little chemical-based cleaning agents as possible. One never knows what we are allergic to, and the long term harm of some of the harsher chemicals.

Peppermint oil/essence (use diluted and sparingly, to clean surfaces. Fruit-flies hate the smell of peppermint!)

Baking powder , white vinegar, scrub, colour-coded bins, bottle brush

Soft wipes (old vests and tee shirts make great wipes).