By Yumi Miyaki / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterFollowing Japanese customs, most people clean up their house at the end of the year to start the new year fresh. However, summer is actually a better time for housecleaning than winter, according to a cleaning expert, because people move around more when it’s warm and are less likely to mind if their hands and clothes get wet. What’s more, certain types of dirt can be removed more easily on hot days. “Strenuously cleaning things as we shiver in the cold is a waste of energy and effort,” lifestyle researcher Ayako Abe said. “It’s smart to do what we can during this season.”
Grease softens in solar heat
The most important thing to clean in summer, Abe said, is the kitchen fan. The tough grease on it solidifies in winter, making it hard to remove.
“Use the power of the summer sun: Oil softens in heat, making it easy to remove,” she said.
She prepared a big container such as a tub or basin, an opaque garbage bag, alkaline cleanser (sold at stores as grease-cutting cleanser), an old toothbrush and rubber gloves.
1. Spread the garbage bag over the container, and pour into the bag enough water and cleanser to soak the items to be cleaned. Place it in a sunny spot such as your garden or balcony.
2. Put the fan, filter and anything dirty with grease into the bag and tie it closed. Leave the container there for at least 30 minutes. The water temperature in the bag rises under the sun, and the grease will start melting.
3. When the liquid turns brownish, put on gloves and use an old toothbrush to scrub the items in the bag. The grease will come off without you having to scrub too hard.
4. Take out the utensils, rinse and dry. The liquid inside the bag contains grease, so pouring it down a sink will result in clogging. To avoid this, cut an about five-millimeter-wide hole in the bag and let the dirty water trickle out.
5. The grease will stay inside the bag; throw them out together.
The best time of day to leave the container outside is around noon, when the temperature is the highest. However, grease will come off well even at a temperature of around 28 C, Abe said.
Use coin-sized steel wool
An accumulation of burned and caked grease around gas stove tripods and fish ovens is hard to remove just by soaking in cleansing liquid and scrubbing.
If the items don’t have enamel or other coatings, or if you don’t mind leaving scratches behind, you can just scrub away with a scourer or fine steel wool. Steel wool can be torn into a coin-sized piece that makes it easier to apply pressure when you scrub.
Such attachments as tripods and grill pans are easy to clean, but grease stuck inside the stove is difficult to get rid of.
“It’s a dark and difficult place to clean. The only way to clean it is stick your arm inside and clean it little by little,” she said.
If there’s not too much grease, soak a piece of cloth or sponge in cleansing solution and scrub. But if it has accumulated for years, you should scrub with steel wool soaked in the solution and then repeatedly wipe it down with a wet cloth.
Using mop with long handle useful
Walls and the ceiling in the kitchen easily become filthy due to oil spattered from deep- and stir-frying, and it should be cleaned up in summer, Abe said. A long-handled mop is useful for cleaning higher places. She suggested wiping such areas with a wet mop that has been tightly squeezed.
There are many greasy places other than the kitchen, too. Floors, for example, become contaminated with oil from the skin and other types of grease because people walk in their bare feet, drop crumbs or spill things.
Wiping floors with a wet cloth is refreshing.