They say that what you don't know can't hurt you, but in the kitchen, what you don't know can breed a swarm of fruit flies and taint your water with limescale. Limescale!!
Kitchens are full of festering nooks and crannies that you undoubtedly never think to clean, so to find out about these hidden problem areas we talked to Melissa Maker from Clean My Space and Meg Roberts, President of Molly Maid. They told us 14 places invisible to the untrained eye, yet totally disgusting to experts, and how to deal with them.
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The bacteria bacchanal at the bottom of the trash can
The fix: Empty all the derelict foodstuffs that collect at the bottom when you miss the bag, spray the insides with some all-purpose cleaner, and sprinkle baking soda at the bottom to keep odors at bay. Meg also recommends scented trash bags, and placing an extra bag at the bottom of the can to make sure you always replace the bag immediately.
The dishwasher's grimy, foul smelling racks
The fix: “A least once a month, run the dishwasher on its highest setting without detergent in it, then spray the inside with a solution of water and vinegar,” says Meg.
The forgotten junk and mystery goo under the kitchen sink
The fix: Take everything out of the cabinet, get rid of anything useless, old, or broken, then wipe down all the surfaces. “It will take you under 10 minutes to do and you'll feel three times better about your kitchen,” says Melissa.
The filthy ring around the garbage disposal
The fix: “People think odor is coming from the garbage disposal, but often times it's the collection of debris on the underside of that ring,” says Meg. Wipe the inside with a cloth, or leave it in a bowl of vinegar and water.
Dusty spices with a finite shelf life
The fix: "You might need coriander for one recipe and you forget about it and three years later, you pull it out, it's not going to taste the same,” says Melissa. Discard old spices, and put down a shelf liner to neutralize stains from heavy spices like turmeric. Add a box of baking soda to improve the smell.
That clogged sink drain
The fix: “That little area in the pipe where there's a curve, things get stuck in there over time,” says Melissa. It's going to make your sink smell terrible and attract flies. Pour a cup of baking soda down the sink, leave it for 30 minutes, then pour a cup of vinegar. “You know what happens if you've been in science class,” says Melissa. The explosion will break up the food and grease that have collected on the side of the pipes. Flush it all down with boiling water.
The toaster that smells like burning
The fix: There's a tray at the bottom full of crumbs that are slowly being turned into charcoal. Tons of people don't know about this, and it's a shocking enough discovery for some that Melissa equated it to a baby discovering their hands for the first time. Pull it out, tap it over a trash can, and wash it with soapy water.
Big appliances like the stove
The fix: If you've never moved your stove before, it is basically hiding a cesspool. "You're gonna find dust bunnies, giant crumbs, dead bugs, you're going to find everything under there,” says Melissa. Shimmy it out from the wall, wipe down the sides, and sweep behind it.
The fix: “Most people don't realize that the knobs on their stove will lift off,” says Meg. Food stains will collect on and underneath the knobs, which you will touch and unknowingly grease up your hands. Soak 'em in dish detergent.
The greasy stove exhaust filter
The fix: “The reason you vent while you cook is because you want to filter out smoke and grease that's broken down into teeny tiny particles floating around your kitchen,” says Melissa. The filter collects those tiny grease particles, and becomes horrendously foul in the process. Take oxyclean powder, dissolve in hot water, then soak the filter for 20 minutes.
The moldy refrigerator water spout
The fix: If you look up the tube where your filtered water comes from, you'll see a second filter of grime that your water slip and slides down on the way to your glass. “That's hard water limescale buildup,” says Melissa. Find full-strength 10% vinegar at a hardware store. Fill a glass and let the spout soak in the glass, then rinse and flush it out. Also, don't forget to soak the grate.
The refrigerator's dust-clogged vacuum coils
The fix: “A couple times a year, take a dust brush and just vacuum the grate behind the fridge,” says Melissa. The refrigerator will become much quieter and more energy efficient.
The crumb-collecting silverware tray
The fix: “Take it out, tape the sides, and wipe the insides,” says Meg. “You also might find you have nine spatulas and you only need one, so you can create some extra space by throwing the others out.”
Cloudy AF wine glasses
The fix: If you haven't used your wine glasses in awhile, they likely won't look clean no matter how much you rinse them. “It's like Little House on the Prairie, everything goes back to using vinegar,” says Meg. Put the glasses in white vinegar for about 15 minutes, then hit them with a kitchen scrubber and they'll look brand new.
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Dan Gentile is a staff writer at Thrillist. He immediately did half of these things, and left the others undone for photographic purposes. Follow him to finishing the job at @Dannosphere.