A step by step is the way to clean your kitchen without being truamatised

The stove and counters are wiped off, the sink is empty and pristine, and the floor is mopped. Ah, a clean kitchen. Or just clean enough, to be honest. Most householders used to do some deep cleaning before Deepavali or Pongal, and our tropical climate demands it, but nowadays chimney hoods, exhaust fans and closed cabinets help us put grime out of our minds. When we do notice it, we promise to get around to it sometime.

But there are rewards to actually cleaning a kitchen top down. It’s easier if you complete a set of related tasks each day and the results are as satisfying as a full renovation. In the days or even weeks before the Big Clean, sort through the contents of your kitchen cabinets.

Discard what is spoiled, bottle what is in the half-open packets, recycle the excess plastic containers, give away what you simply don’t use any more. Clean the shelves inside as you go. Postpone purchases as far as possible till you finish cleaning.

Arm yourself with rags, lots of them. Most effective are small cotton squares cut from old T-shirts, petticoats and towels, which scrub without damaging surfaces. Plan to throw each one out when it gets filthy. To remove grease, dust and dried food particles, you need a small quantity of kerosene, a strong spray solution, plain dishwashing soap, and disinfectant.

Stay safe while cleaning. Unplug electrical appliances before cleaning them and wipe them perfectly dry before you plug them in again. Use kerosene in very small quantities. Don’t leave the floor soapy. Never use cleaning acid, which corrodes finished surfaces and burns the skin. Don’t combine cleaning fluids; in combination they may release dangerous fumes. Keep doors and windows open while you work. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges and chemicals. Use pesticide sprays and chalks only in places far from food or utensils.

Now the task is done, let’s get to the rewards. Your aunt-in-law will never, ever drop in on the day your kitchen gleams, but the time you spend in here will be less stressful, your mornings will roll more smoothly and you’ll find yourself uplifted in your newly serene home.

Day 1: To remove grease and dust from the fan, exhaust fan, lights and the tops of cabinets, use rags damp with kerosene. Electrical lights should be off and cool while you’re cleaning them, and to be safe wipe them off with a dry rag when you’re done. Don’t forget the clock. Do all these high places together while you have the stepladder out, and if there are cobwebs, sweep them out.

Day 2: Wipe the door and window frames with damp rags. Use kerosene if they are very greasy, or a soap solution for mild dirt. Wash the window nets.

Day 3: If your cabinet doors are enamel-painted or laminated, wipe them with damp rags, and don’t forget the bottom surfaces, which are often spotted with food splashed up from the blender. Wipe off the top of the refrigerator and the outside surfaces.

Day 4: Remove all appliances and jars from your counters and scrub the counters and the tiles behind them using mild soap or a grease-cutting spray. Wipe off the appliances and jars before you replace them.

Day 5: Wash out and dry your dustbin (ideally in the sun) and disinfect the surrounding area and under the sink. Spray for insects there if you need to.

Day 6: Clean the hidden parts of the floor, behind the refrigerator, behind the washing machine, and in the “broom corner”.

Day 7: Clean out the refrigerator.