The importance--no, the absolute necessity--a clean and orderly kitchen is emphasized in housekeeping books both old and new. In America's Housekeeping Book, the authors write:
High standards of cleanliness should always be maintained in the room where food is stored and prepared. Order ranks next to cleanliness in importance, for nowhere is it more essential to have a place for everything and everything in its place than in the kitchen.
Martha Stewart agrees, calling the kitchen "the most inviting, interesting, and important room in the house," and going on to admit that "it's the room with more homekeeping concerns than any other" (Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, p. 31). It was with this in mind that I steeled myself this morning to deep-clean my kitchen. I knew I was starting out all wrong, at least by the old-time books' standards. I'm not supposed to be cleaning on Sunday, for starters, and probably I shouldn't be doing my kitchen cleaning to the sounds of Mark vacuuming the rest of the house. But it's not 1941 anymore, and this dual-income family doesn't get a day of rest. So we began.
Before I started, my kitchen looked like this:
In the section on weekly care of a kitchen, America's Housekeeping Book recommends this order of tasks:
1. Put away all foods except those belonging in refrigerator.
Remove all foods from refrigerator.
Wash interior of refrigerator (special care of refrigerator, page 248).
Return food to refrigerator.
2. Clean range thoroughly (pages 249-252).
3. Clean, scald and sun vegetable bins, bread and cake boxes.
4. Clean out and wash 1 cupboard or several drawers in rotation, weekly.
5. Dust lighting fixtures; take down globes and wash them when necessary.
Dust window shades or Venetian blinds (page 171); wash or thoroughly clean when necessary.
Wash walls behind sink, stove and work surfaces, if washable (see index of types of walls). Wash work surfaces. Wash exterior of cabinet work and shelving to remove fingermarks.
Take down curtains for laundering when necessary.
Brush ceiling when necessary.
Wash wordwork and windows when necessary.
6. Clean garbage container thoroughly.
7. Clean metal fixtures (page 244), soap dish, sink strainer, dish drainer and sink (page 252).
Wash, rinse and scald dishcloth or mop or send to laundry; hang outdoors if possible.
8. Dry work surfaces if necessary.
Time haven't changed that much. In her section on weekly homekeeping tasks, Martha lists the following under "Kitchen."
*Wipe surfaces, including sink, countertops, the outside of the ventilation hood, refrigerator and cupboard doors, top of refrigerator, appliance exteriors, shelves, and furniture
*Wipe the inside of the oven, microwave, and toaster oven
*Flush drain with boiling water
*Discard foods and beverages past their prime
*Dust light fixtures
*Wipe the inside and outside of trash and recycling bins
*Vacuum and mop floor
Both of these lists assume a level of daily cleaning (i.e. dishes done) that wasn't present in my kitchen this morning, so I started there. This, more or less, is what I did:
1. Loaded and started the dishwasher.
2. Did the dishes that wouldn't fit in the dishwasher or can't go in the dishwasher by hand, dried them, and put them away.
3. Wiped down all the upper and lower cupboards with a rag and a spray bottle of water and vinegar.
4. Buffed some of my homemade lemon oil into all of the upper and lower cupboards.
5. Clean the inside and outside of the microwave with the vinegar and water solution.
6. Clean the outside of the oven and range with the vinegar and water solution.
7. Removed everything from one counter and a time, cleaned the counter with the vinegar and water, and replaced the item.
8. Thoroughly cleaned everything on the coffee tray (French press, thermos, and electric kettle), refilled the sugar bowl.
9. Thoroughly cleaned the mixer and food processor with the vinegar and water solution.
10. Folded and put away the basket of towels and napkins on the counter.
11. Sorted and put away the piles of papers and magazines and assorted detritus on the counter.
12. Washed the inside of the window and windowsill with the vinegar and water solution.
13. Scrubbed out the sink.
14. Replaced the dishtowels and sponge.
15. Swept the floor, then mopped it with hot water and Mrs. Meyers.
The task took me an hour and 45 minutes. At the end, it (and I) looked like this:
For those interested in that aspect of it, I'm wearing cuffed American Eagle jeans (thrifted), a pink v-neck Old Navy t-shirt, a Chloe apron from Boojiboo, and a vintage silk scarf (Ebay). Also, MAC Russian Red matte lipstick.