College is the first time that many of us will have to deal with cleaning communal spaces like kitchens and bathrooms. A key element of being a respectful dorm resident is keeping communal areas tidy — the last thing anyone wants is to find gross residue in the microwave when they go to make Ramen — so we’ve provided a guide of how to clean the various elements of a community kitchen that you may encounter.
How to clean a microwave.
Fill a bowl with two cups of water and two tablespoons of vinegar, and microwave the bowl for a few minutes until it boils. Let it sit in the microwave for 2-3 minutes after the timer goes off so that the window can steam, and after removing the bowl, wipe down the interior of the microwave with a damp paper towel. The steam will loosen all of the grime and allow you to clean everything easily, and should also remove any unpleasant odors. If you don’t have vinegar, you can also use lemon or lime juice.
If the mess is just on the glass plate inside of the microwave, you can pop it out and wash it with dish soap and water, like you would an ordinary dish.
How to unclog a sink drain.
Cleaning a sink is fairly simple (a wipe down with a damp paper towel or sponge and dish soap will do the trick), but a drain blockage is a totally different story. To unclog the drain of your sink, first pour boiling water down the drain. Once you’ve done that, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, let it sit for a few minutes, and then pour a mixture of one cup of baking soda and one cup of boiling water down the drain after it. If you want to contain the reaction, you can put a plug in the drain. Let the baking soda and vinegar sit for a few minutes, and then pour one last round of boiling water down the drain to flush it.
How to clean an oven.
Remove the cooking racks. Combine ½ cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water. Coat the inside of your oven with the mixture and let it sit for several hours or overnight. Wipe the inside of the oven clean with a damp paper towel. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray whatever baking soda residue is left over, and after it stops foaming, wipe away with a damp paper towel.
How to clean a refrigerator.
Remove all shelves and drawers and wash them in warm, soapy water. Wipe down the rest of the refrigerator (including the rubber around the door) with a sponge and soapy water — you can use baking soda on the tougher stains and a toothbrush to get into the smaller crevices.
As you navigate handling a kitchen for the first time, keep these tips in mind. Cleaning a kitchen doesn’t have to be difficult if you share the work and don’t leave it all until the last minute, so keep a running communication with the other people in your dorm and you should be fine!
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