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How to clean 6 germ-infested spots hiding in plain sight in your kitchen

No matter how clean your kitchen is, there's always a handful of hidden spots that attract major grime. If you're OCD about having a super clean kitchen, we can help you tackle those tricky spaces and get them gleaming. Our expert is Real Simple's Home Editor Stephanie Sisco, who is here to save the day (and our kitchens) from germ warfare.

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Cream of tartar for your toaster? How to clean those difficult spots in your kitchen

Play Video - 4:13

Cream of tartar for your toaster? How to clean those difficult spots in your kitchen

Play Video - 4:13

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6 hidden spots that attract dirt in your kitchen — and how to clean them

1. Refrigerator-shelf seams

This task is doable without removing the shelves, but it's easier if you can take them out.

What you'll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Scrigit Scraper
  • Sponge
  • Paper towels
  • Toothbrush

How to clean:

  • Make a paste of equal parts baking soda and hot water and, using an old toothbrush, gently scrub the seam where the glass meets the plastic edge. Agitating the paste lifts the grime.
  • Rinse or wipe with a dampened sponge. If any buildup remains, chip it away with a Scrigit Scraper.
  • Wash the shelves in the sink with soapy water, then dry and replace.

Scrigit Scrapers (pack of 2), $6.99, Amazon.com

Amazon.com
The Scrigit Scraper is a handy tool for cleaning hard to reach areas.

2. Stove grates

What you'll need:

  • Mean Green cleaning solution
  • Sponge

Spritzing with Mean Green Super Strength Cleaner & Degreaser will get grates just as clean as soaking them — but in half the time. Let the solution sit for a few minutes, then wipe with a wet sponge to make sure no product residue remains and ensure that the surface is safe to cook on. Let it dry.

How to clean:

  • If you do see some sticky residue, use a toothbrush to apply a paste of equal parts salt, baking soda and water.
  • Let it sit for 30 minutes, then wipe clean with a cloth, rinse under warm water and dry well before replacing.

RELATED: 3 ways cream of tartar can help you clean your house

3. Refrigerator and freezer door gaskets

What you'll need:

  • Mini flex dustpan and brush
  • White vinegar
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Petroleum jelly

First clear dry debris by sweeping the gasket's accordion folds with a small whisk broom (like the Mini Flex Dustpan & Brush), catching debris in the dustpan so it doesn't land inside the appliance.

How to clean:

  • To tackle hardened grime, wipe with a microfiber cloth dipped in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. The vinegar's acidity cuts through dirt and neutralizes odors, but you need to dilute it to avoid damaging the gasket's surface.
  • Let dry for five minutes, then coat with a thin layer of petroleum jelly to prevent sticking and tearing.

RELATED: Don't ditch those coffee grounds! Use them around your home and garden

4. Inside the toaster oven

What you'll need:

  • Brillo
  • Cream of tartar
  • Lemon juice
  • Regular sponge

This is a common appliance that people don’t often know how to clean. First things first — unplug the oven and place the tray and the rack in the sink.

How to clean:

  • With a nonscrubby sponge, coat each with a paste made from 2 tablespoons cream of tartar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. (The acidity of the juice dissolves grease, and the cream of tartar revives the shine.)
  • Next, apply more of the paste to the oven's interior and exterior, rubbing section by section in a zigzag pattern.
  • Let it sit five minutes, then wipe off the paste with a clean, damp sponge, rinsing as needed. Buff dry with a microfiber cloth.
  • Finally, rinse the rack and the tray with warm water, dry and replace.

RELATED: This jewelry-cleaning trick is so easy, it'll blow your mind

5. Dishwasher seal and detergent dispenser

What you'll need:

  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs
  • White vinegar

How to clean:

  • To clean the seal, use a cotton swab dipped in white vinegar, which dissolves hard-water deposits. Follow with a barely damp microfiber cloth.
  • For the dispenser, use the Scrigit Scraper to chisel off hardened detergent or food particles.
  • When the interior of the dishwasher is empty and dry, vacuum up the debris using the crevice attachment.

6. Crumby corners of the utensil drawer

What you'll need:

  • Lint roller
  • Butter knife

You’re probably shocked when you see crumbs inside your utensil drawer. It sometimes happens when the crumbs from your counter fall into the drawer when you're prepping food or grabbing for a utensil. The easiest way to clean them is to take the utensil tray out of the way. If it's removable and dishwasher-safe, load it into the top rack of the machine. If it is made of bamboo or wood or is not removable, wipe it clean with a rag dipped in warm, soapy water and let it air-dry.

How to clean:

  • Use your vacuum's crevice attachment or a lint roller to pick up crumbs that have collected in the drawer.
  • Even the stickiest lint rollers can't get into tight corners, though. Grab the crumbs in the corners using a butter knife wrapped with a piece of the lint roller's sticky paper.
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