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Preparing your Kitchen for the Holidays: Easy Appliance Maintenance

by Albert Lee Appliance

We’re in the home stretch of the holiday season, and the last leg sure feels like an entire marathon. We’ve finally made it through Thanksgiving weekend, but it feels like we just finished the dishes and the last of the leftover turkey legs. And just like that, it’s time to start prepping our kitchen for the next phase of holiday extravaganzas.  

Through Christmas and New Year’s, your kitchen has to step up to the plate and carry the team. This is where people are gathering, cookies are decorated, and messes are made. We're preparing meals for more people than usual, entertaining (virtually this year), and trying to find any sliver of counter space to wrap last-minute presents.  

This is the busiest stretch of the holiday season and it can also be the most stressful. Instead of letting the dread and worry take over, now’s the time to get organized. Your kitchen will be the hub of all social activity and mealtime conversation, so it’s important to clean every nook and cranny.  

Is your kitchen holiday-ready? If not, there’s still time. Make sure your cooking space and kitchen appliances are ready for guests, meal prep, and yuletide cheer. We've put together a list of simple and helpful tips to make sure your kitchen space is up to the task. Follow along and it should be smooth sailing (or sledding) for the rest of the holiday season.  

Albert Lee Pro Tip 

Before we get into our list, we want to emphasize one feature you should avoid. We strongly discourage people from using the self-clean cycle right before the holidays. You might swear by the time-saving convenience, but an excessive buildup of heat in the oven can short a thermal fuse or burn out a heating element. And with lots of cooking to do and family on the way, the last thing you want is a costly and time-consuming hunt to track down replacement parts for your oven.  

Now, let’s get down to business. 

1. Clean the Clutter 

First things first—clear the clutter. It's hard to maintain your appliances if your entire kitchen space is full of garbage and stacks of bills and junk mail left on the counter. If your kitchen is a flurry of activity, make sure your cooking surfaces, backsplash, and floors are all sparkling clean. Once your space is neat and organized, then you can start on appliance maintenance.   

2. Wipe Out the Microwave 

Hopefully, you won’t be preparing any meals in the microwave—the Salisbury steak TV dinner isn’t holiday-appropriate, but you will certainly need the microwave to heat all those holiday leftovers. The microwave can be a forgotten appliance in the realm of holiday meal prep, but the last thing you want to see when you go to warm up your food is a sticky, splattered mess in the microwave.  

So, whether you’ll be reheating slices of ham, turkey, or beef Wellington, take a damp cloth or a mild cleaning solution and wipe out your microwave. And if you plan on having houseguests, disinfect the handle and the buttons on the outside of the appliance to remove any fingerprints or smudging.   

And for an added cleaning bonus, invest in a smudge-proof, fingerprint-resistant microwave like this Frigidaire Stainless Steel Built-In Microwave (FPMO3077TF). 

3. Prepare Your Oven or Range 

You want to make sure your oven is clean and free of any stuck-on debris at the bottom of your appliance, but again, avoid running a self-cleaning cycle right before a big party. The self-clean cycle is a convenient feature, but it can take two to four hours to run a full cycle and it can sometimes leave an unpleasant odor during the cycle if your appliance hasn’t been cleaned in some time. This odor can also negatively affect someone who suffers from an upper respiratory disease or asthma. And with the amount of use your oven gets during this time of year, running a frequent self-clean cycle can be damaging to your appliance.  

Instead, before you put in your twice-baked potatoes or carrot casserole, give your appliance a quick clean with a wet rag around the burners and leave the rest until the feast is over.  

4. Clean Out the Fridge 

Perhaps the most important of all appliance maintenance tips, cleaning out your refrigerator is key. It's something you may need to do multiple times to ensure you have plenty of storage. When you do all your grocery shopping, you need adequate space to keep all your ingredients chilled and fresh until the big day. And when you’re stuffed to the gills and trying to locate the button that burst off your khaki pants, you need a place to house all those leftovers.  

Not only for storage, the fridge is bound to see a lot of action during mealtime. The doors are constantly being opened and closed and heavy serving trays and casserole dishes are being shoved inside, so make sure the door seals and handles are secure, the cold-air vents are clear, and all the lights are shining bright. You don’t want any vents to be blocked by food or condiments; otherwise, your appliance won’t stay cool throughout the evening.  

And don’t forget to remove any dirty shelving and wash with dish soap. Dry them with a dish towel and be sure they are secure in the fridge before stacking anything on top of them.  

5. Disinfect Trash Bins 

If you happen to have a built-in trash compactor like this Stainless Steel Trash Compactor from KitchenAid (KTTS505ESS), don’t forget to give it a good clean. No matter how careful you are, food remnants and bacteria manage to collect at the bottom of a trash can, so a holiday party is a good excuse to take out the trash—literally.  

You don’t want an odor lingering in your kitchen, so wipe down and disinfect your trash compactor with a cleaning spray, add a fresh liner, and maybe even dangle an air freshener if you want a festive holiday scent. Fresh pine and balsam are great scents this time of year. 

6. No Dirty Dishwashers  

Holiday cooking produces holiday dishes, and let us tell you, it feels like a never-ending stack. Make sure your dishwasher can effectively and efficiently contain the number of dishes you need to clean. Check the drain and clean off any residue, and check to see if any utensils got stuck at the bottom of the wash bin. Be sure the spray arms are clear and functioning properly, and wipe off the rim of the door, handle, and around the gasket to remove any moisture.  

Use white vinegar and a sponge to wipe down your appliance, and run a full wash cycle with a bowl of white vinegar in the top rack to act as a natural deodorizer and fully clean your dishwasher. 

7. Prepare Your Cookware 

Have your cookware cleaned and have your cutlery sharpened so you can serve a gourmet meal without hacking it to bits. Take inventory of any basic supplies that you might be missing—check utensils, bakeware, serving trays, spices, cooking oils, and any other pantry must-have. If you’re busting out your genuine silver and fancy dinner plates, be sure everything is washed and polished well beforehand. And if you’re a fan of cloth napkins, it doesn't hurt to iron them and press out any wrinkles before setting the table.  

And try creating a cooking schedule. Most prep work can be done ahead of time, so get the mac ‘n cheese in a casserole dish, start chopping those veggies, make the glaze for the ham, and store what you can. Having a schedule helps keep your cooking station organized and allows your guests to help out when it’s time to start preparing the meal.  

Bonus: Safety Check  

Double-check your menu to be sure you aren’t serving any dishes that might affect someone with a food allergy—nuts and gluten are the usual suspects during the holidays. If children are nearby, block off the kitchen space or make sure the area around your kitchen is childproof or safe for youngins to play.  

And if you burn the turkey and end up eating Christmas dinner at Denny’s like Scott Calvin in “The Santa Clause,” keep a fire extinguisher nearby—you never know when you’ll need it.  

You’re Ready 

Now that your appliances are clean and your kitchen is fully prepped, you’re ready to conquer the rest of the holiday season. If you get overwhelmed, refer back to these helpful tips and you’ll surely cross the finish line. Or, if you feel like you could use a little extra help in the kitchen by way of new appliances, give us a call or visit us at Albert Lee to shop our entire catalog of kitchen appliances and cooking accessories. What more could you ask for?