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Pro Chefs Share Their Secrets to Getting Your Kitchen Seriously Clean

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If you cook at all at home, you know how easy it is for the kitchen to get grimy. In no time, the sink can get stinky, surfaces are sticky, refrigerators need a refresh, and if you’re working in a small kitchen, it can get overwhelming if things aren’t organized properly. When it comes to getting our kitchens clean, there are a ton of products out there promising to do the job. But really, it’s about your approach to cleaning and how you clean that’ll make all the difference. We wanted to get the scoop on kitchen cleaning tips that actually work. So who better to ask than someone who spends most of their day in a kitchen?

That’s why we spoke to two chefs about kitchen maintenance—to get their industry secrets on what they use and what steps they take to keep their spaces clean and organized. Chefs are some of the most dedicated professionals, not only to their craft, but also to the safety of those they cook for. Our featured chefs, Executive Chef James Richardson and Chef Daniel Russo, are no strangers to knowing what it’s like to cook under time constraints and busy schedules. Their kitchen cleaning tips can be implemented seamlessly into your routine, no matter how busy life gets. Cooking efficiently and keeping your cooking space clean is about consolidating your workload. And Richardson and Russo are here to show you how to do just that.

Executive Chef James Richardson

How Long Have You Been Working as a Chef?

James Richardson is an executive chef based in the Philadelphia area. Richardson has been working in kitchens for 23 years. He’s climbed the ladder in restaurants, starting as a dishwasher to now becoming an executive chef in the Philadelphia area. Watch Richardson work his chef magic @chef_life0612 on Instagram.

How Much Importance Is Placed on a Clean Kitchen in Your Line of Work?

“Having organization and cleanliness are two of the most important things in a kitchen,” he says. He adds that organization, orderly cooking, and proper sanitation is of the utmost importance, not only for the sake of the restaurant running smoothly, but also for guests’ health and safety.

What Are Tips You Have to Keeping Your Kitchen Clean?

  1. Use Disposable Gloves: When working with proteins like chicken, beef, or pork, it’s important to make sure nothing is coming into contact with the raw meats. Using disposable gloves while preparing the proteins is a good idea as to avoid cross-contamination and keep the raw foods free of any bacteria that might be lingering on your hands.
  2. Clean As You Go: It sounds simple, but it really helps. Richardson says, “This will prevent a pile up of things to clean after you’re done cooking.” And in turn, that makes for lighter work later on.
  3. Sanitize: “Make sure to sanitize any soiled surfaces,” he says, adding, “There are many over-the-counter sprays and wipes that you can purchase at places as local as a gas station.” And though small, they make a huge difference.

What Are 3 Kitchen Organization or Cleaning Products You Can’t Live Without?

  1. Hand Soap: “Can never have too much hand soap,” Richardson says. Keeping your hands clean will, in turn, keep your station clean and sanitary. It can also be used to wipe down the sides and inside of the fridge, the dish washer, and getting into those areas that need a detailed clean, like the baseboards.
  2. Biodegradable Grease Cutter: “To preserve the environment while keeping the kitchen free of any cooking residue,” Richardson says, a biodegradable grease cutter is the way to go. Butter, oil, meat, and general food splatter is unavoidable when cooking. So it’s incredibly important to make sure you’re wiping down your surfaces, stovetop, open shelving, cabinet doors, and any surface that’s exposed. There are plenty of sprays on the market to get the job done. It’s recommended to wipe down immediate cooking surfaces like the stovetop and counters daily, and take the time to wipe down all other exposed surfaces once a week.
  3. Wire Racks: “Truly a chef’s best friend. If you have ever seen the inside of a professional kitchen, these are the storage racks you’ll see in about 99% of them.” If you have a walk-in pantry or a large kitchen closet, racks will allow all of your goods to be put on display so they’re easy to reach and easy to see. Utilizing baskets and bins to organize non-perishables is a great idea. Plus, you can store all your bulky appliances like rice cookers, air fryers, and slow cookers on the bottom shelves. Racks are the ultimate reliable shelving unit for kitchens.

Shop Richardson’s Must-Haves

Chef Daniel Russo

What’s Your Background in Cooking and Hospitality?

Daniel Russo is a fine dining chef in Philadelphia, who has worked in kitchens for the past 11 years. His career began in high school, where he washed dishes for a local bar. But as he got involved in the industry, his love for cooking and hospitality only grew. Russo soon moved his way up to cooking in fine dining restaurants, where he’s been honing his skills and working beside the likes of Michelin-star chefs for the past six years. You can follow along on his endeavors @danyullrusso on Instagram.

How Important Is Kitchen Cleanliness to You in Your Field?

Russo says, “Organization and cleanliness are extremely important. They’re two of the three pillars any great restaurant is built on: Communication, cleanliness, and organization.” Without it, kitchens would be a mess, both literally as well as in their operation. The standards are high in professional kitchens for a reason: Without those standards, the business would collapse.

What Are Your Top Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Clean While Cooking?

  1. Never Leave Things for the Morning: Russo says, “It’s best to leave your kitchen looking as if nothing was touched at all. If you want to go a step further, clean everything before eating your meal.” That way, you can sit down and enjoy your dinner without dreading cleaning the stack of dishes in the sink afterwards. Think of it as your “nightly closing duties.” If you treat your kitchen like you treat your workspace, there are certain things you need to do before you can close up shop. Wipe surfaces, wash all of your dishes, clean the stovetop, and make sure your kitchen is left the way you want to see it in the morning. This will also prevent any morning anxiety that might come up when you step out of bed to see a long list of chores you have to finish before even making your coffee.
  2. Use the Least Amount of Tools Possible: One pan recipes will make your life easier. “Be intentional about the utensils you’re using. Using one spoon and one pan will significantly cut down any work you would otherwise have to do,” he says. So if you’re feeling like the last thing you can do is deal with a sink full of dishes at the end of dinner, make it easy on yourself and use as few as possible while cooking. Just be sure you’re taking proper precaution for foods that can carry bacteria, like raw meats.

What Are 3 Kitchen Cleaning Products You Can’t Live Without?

  1. Steel Wool: Steel wool is like the do-it-all of kitchen pan care. Steel wool will scrub away built-on grime and stains in almost any dish or pan. Everything from cast iron pans to stainless steel pots, utensils, and everything in between. It lends itself to getting rid of layers of stains without scratching the surfaces underneath, so the lifespan of your cooking tools will be preserved.
  2. Deck Brush: A deck brush is a very underrated tool in the kitchen. If you’re looking to deep clean your kitchen (and maybe get a little grossed out about how dirty your kitchen floors were), set your sights on scrubbing the floor with this tool. Because deck brushes are short-trimmed and stiff, they’re normally used for decks (hence the name) and outdoor cleans. However, they make the perfect floor broom to dislodge stubborn stains, clean grout, and scrub floors in the kitchen. Just use a bit of warm, soapy water, dip the brush into the bucket, and get scrubbing.
  3. Dawn Dish Soap: The Dawn brand of dish soap is industry-standard for many reasons. Not only is it gentle on skin and the environment, but it’s also powerful enough to cut grease, food stains, and bacteria with just a small squirt. This is due to its unique blend of surfactants. Dawn dish soap is one of the most versatile cleaning products out there as well. It can be used everywhere from dishes, to laundry, to the bathroom, and more.

Shop Russo’s Favorites

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