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Spring clean your kitchen

A better body begins in the kitchen. Faith Durand of TheKitchn.com shows you how to prime yours.

Even if you don't consider yourself a gourmet chef, your kitchen is one of the most influential rooms in your house. “The kitchen is where all the action is centered, so it can easily become cluttered and weigh you down. Cleaning it out for spring is like a fresh start, helping you bring good energy into your home,” says Faith Durand, executive editor of TheKitchn.com, sister site to Maxwell Ryan’s hit for home décor, Apartment Therapy.

And since your kitchen is the hub of many of your food choices, one that’s clean, organized and mindfully stocked helps ensure those choices are healthy. Follow Durand’s tips for pitching, scrubbing, and prepping and you’ll be putting down the takeout menu and cranking up your (spotless) stove in no time:

be ruthless with condiments.

“Start with the refrigerator. If there’s a funk in your kitchen it’s probably there. Turn on some high-energy music and be ruthless. Toss any holiday holdovers and any condiments and sauces that look iffy,” says Durand. Her rule of thumb for opened condiments: Nix salsa at the one month mark, mayo at 2 months, and ketchup, jam, and jelly at 6 months. Mustards can last longer—up to 12 months.

scald is the new scrub.

“If you’re worried about exposure to chemicals, the most natural sterilizing agent of all is boiling water. It does the trick better than a lot of cleaners out there,” says Durand. Just boil water in a kettle, carefully dribble some over counters, let it cool a bit and then scrub. Want to see some suds? Try a natural product with a spring-like scent, like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Basil Dish Soap.

mix up a natural oven cleaner.

Mix ½ a cup of baking soda with 3 tablespoons of water to form a paste (use more as needed), then coat the inside of your cool oven and leave on overnight. In the morning wipe off with a damp cloth. Spritz with white vinegar and do a final wipe down to further disinfect and add shine.

condition wooden cutting boards with coconut oil.

Wood is more anti-bacterial than plastic as long as you prevent cracks that could harbor bacteria, advises Durand. Indeed, University of Wisconsin researchers applied salmonella, listeria, and e.coli bacteria to a variety of wooden and plastic cutting boards and found that 99.9% of the bacteria on wooden boards died after 3 minutes, yet none died on the plastic. Bonus: Coconut oil is naturally anti-microbial thanks to the lauric acid it contains.

swap out plastic containers for glass.

Not only do they look better, with glass you don’t have to worry about endocrine disrupting toxins like BPA. “A pretty, organized pantry is a great way to start the season,” says Durand, who suggests transferring boxed or bagged quinoa, buckwheat, rice, and beans to glass jars and getting creative with a label-maker.

prepare your stock options.

Once the fridge is clean, stock it with spring greens, veggies, and fruit. Wash and dry lettuces so they’re ready for salads; chop celery, cucumbers, carrots, apples, and pears and cover them with water in closed containers for easy add-ins.

keep a bouquet of fresh herbs in the fridge.

“Wash and place the stalks in a small jar of water, like a bouquet of flowers, and set it in the fridge,” says Durand. “Then just snip off pieces as needed.”