Spring Clean Your Kitchen

Sometimes we choose when to clean, sometimes it chooses us. Spring doesn’t officially begin until this Friday, but when stuck at home with a Coronavirus Pandemic, it’s the perfect time to Spring Clean Your kitchen. My journey all began with a little spider that happened to live in my pantry with my cake mixes and cereals. With apologies to Charlotte, of Charlotte’s Web, I made some natural spider killer, sprayed the spiders, cleaned the webs and threw everything out of that small pantry. This started me on my Spring Cleaning kitchen adventure.

Like, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, I was not content with cleaning one pantry and set about tackling the rest of the kitchen. I broke this task up into a couple days, as to do it all at once seemed too overwhelming. When I got my new kitchen four years ago, it was wonderful- but over the years taco chip bits, flour, stray chocolate chips and the like have settled down onto the surfaces. To remedy this, I removed all the items, wiped up the stray bits and sprayed it down with spider killer. Since it smelled so good, I used the rest of it in a spray bottle to clean.

I read a book years ago written by the founders of a Housecleaning service and they advised to always start cleaning top to bottom, so everything falls down to the floor. It was true, when I finished there was a pile of debris of dubious origin on my kitchen floor waiting to be swept up. Thanks Zeke.

As I removed items- flour, pasta, crackers etc… I checked the expiration dates. Usually this is done for me by my rather anal daughter, who pitches stuff in my kitchen on a regular basis, but I did find a container of Arborino rice that had escaped her inspection that was two years expired. Also, any item there was barely any left of, or something we didn’t like, I threw away. The candy corn from Halloween escaped my cleaning frenzy. You never know when you may need candy corn.

In the canned goods section, I didn’t check the dates since, unless they’re damaged or contain an acetic ingredient, they last a while, but if a can is damaged or dented, throw it out. I noted what I had, made a list of what I needed and organized them into rows of like items. Beans, soup, fruits, vegetables, tomato sauce, canned tuna and clams are all standing to attention like metal soldiers in my pantry now.

This is a perfect time to donate to a charity like FeedingAmerica.org.; a lot of people are feeling the pinch of unemployment and living paycheck to paycheck. I usually go through my canned goods every year when the Postal Workers ask for donations during their Stamp Out Hunger food drive. It is May 9th this year, God willing. At this time, I get rid of duplicates of canned food I have, or canned food I probably won’t eat (like Jackfruit for my garden club’s taco night). They also take non-perishable items, like stuffing or rice.

I took all the soy sauce packets I’ve collected from take-out restaurants, opened them with my trusty kitchen scissors and poured them into a single soy sauce container. I pitched the duck sauce, as well as the mustard, mayo and Arby’s sauce. Who eats Arby’s anyway? I checked dates on packages (like onion dip) and threw out those that were open (like Taco seasoning), since it’s hard as a rock by now.

I cleaned out under the sink- yuk!- and cleaned out the various drawers, again by removing everything and evaluating what need to be pitched. Old plastic take-out containers with no tops- adios! Crunched up aluminum foil meant to clean the grill- gone. Old spices from my trip to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul five years ago- farewell.

Of course, the holy grail of cleaning is the refrigerator and freezer. Being cooped up at home is the perfect opportunity to go through your frozen foods and evaluate what you have. This saves a trip to the grocery store, which everyone is trying to avoid these days, and gives you a chance to eat those items that are cramming your freezer. If there’s a food that you can’t identify or is expired or compromised, pitch it. If there’s something you probably won’t eat (veggie burgers), offer it to a friend or family member.

Make a list of what you have in the freezer, so when you’re trying to decide on that night (or the next night’s) dinner, you will know what you have available. You can put the list in a plastic sleeve and keep it in the freezer or nearby to refer to. I also removed the ice drawer, where ice cubes had frozen solid and washed it out with hot water and soap, before putting it back in the freezer.

Spring cleaning my kitchen gave me something to do during this anxiety-prone time; it made me feel better about my health and well-being and that of my family. It was, in short, something I could control when this world seems so out of control. Now, when I open a drawer or the pantry, I don’t recoil in horror, but smile at the small task I’ve accomplished. You get a lot of bang for your buck with Spring Cleaning your kitchen.

This Spider Repellent Spray isn’t technically a cleaner (so you may want to use something stronger if you can get your hands on it) but it does contain vinegar and smells delicious.

Spider Repellent Recipe

  • 1 TBL dish soap (I use Dawn)
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil

Mix together and put in a spray bottle.

I gotta have faith,” George Michael

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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