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Kitchen Resources

A First-Time Homeowner's Guide to Kitchens

Owning your first home is an exciting time! After renting for years and saving for that down payment, having a place with your name on the title is a huge accomplishment. But with that excitement can also come some anxiety. It is totally normal to feel nervous about home ownership, especially when it comes to home maintenance and repairs!  Modernize has created an easy-to-digest list of pointers and tips for your kitchen to keep it in great shape. We also note when it is an ideal time to call a contractor to make some kitchen upgrades.

Table of Contents

Keep Up With Your Appliances

Many times, sellers will leave behind manuals that go along with the appliances that came with the house. This includes the stove and oven, dishwasher and refrigerator. Manuals are great things to hang onto in case appliance start working improperly. It may be something as simple as a fix that is written right there in the guide, or a quick search on the internet.

kitchen tips

It also is helpful to know the proper name of the product, as well as the year in which it was made, in case you need to order replacement parts or if you are eligible for a warranty.

Also keep in mind that as a first time homeowner, it is worthwhile to explore home warranty options. You can save money on kitchen appliances in the long-term by avoiding costly repairs.

Pro tip: If you are looking to update appliances, we recommend that you go with energy-efficient models. Since the kitchen is a place of your home that uses a lot of energy daily, you will save more money on utility bills in the long-run with energy-efficient appliances.

 Is it Time to Call a Kitchen Professional?

If you have tried fixing the appliances on your own, or you know that the plumbing mishap in your kitchen is beyond your expertise, it is time to call the pros! You do not want to accidentally break your appliances or make the situation worse.

Ask friends and family who live in the area if they have recommendations for plumbers and electricians, or use Modernize to find qualified and vetted professionals in your area. 

As a first-time homeowner, you may also find that your new home’s outdated kitchen deserves an upgrade. It is very common for new homeowners to buy a home with a plan to do a kitchen remodel.

Feel free to spend a few months (or years) to budget for your kitchen project. This way, you know it will turn out exactly the way you want. You can use Modernize’s library of kitchen resources to plan ahead in the meantime.

How to Clean your Kitchen the Right Way

With such heavy use, the kitchen can get disorganized and dirty very quickly. It can also impact how well your appliances work. It is best to clean the kitchen regularly to make sure the space does not only look good, but functions well, too. The following tips for the kitchen will make your regular cleaning routine easier.


How you clean your stove top is going to depend on the type of stove you have. Is it an electric flat top or gas?

For the former, there are lots of cleaning products on the market to help get rid of grime and burnt bits. Make sure that the cleaner is specifically made for an electric flat top stove. Or you can skip the trip to the store and simply use baking powder and vinegar!

As for gas stove tops, they are even easier to clean. The burners can be washed by hand or put in the dishwasher. The stove top can be cleaned with your favorite cleaning products, as well as a homemade solution of 1 part vinegar and 2 parts baking soda.


While often connected to the stove, the oven can be a little trickier to clean. It is cramped, and lots of spills occur here when baking. You do not want those sauces to continue burning and ruining your oven and later meals! Cleaning your oven also depends on the type of oven you have in your kitchen.

If you have a self-cleaning oven, putting the oven on this setting will either use steam or high temperatures to clean the interior. Some owners have complained that the latter option leaves behind an undesirable smell and fumes. With either option, be sure to remove the oven racks and any large pieces of debris before setting the self-cleaning setting.

If you do not have a self cleaner, you can still clean the oven manually. Again, remove the oven racks to be washed separately. If they fit in your dishwasher, it is even easier. Create a paste with water and baking soda and coat the inside of the oven. Leave it overnight, and the next day, spritz white vinegar throughout the oven. When you wipe down the oven after putting on this concoction, you will be surprised by how clean the inside is!


No matter how careful you are to avoid spills, the refrigerator is bound to get dirty as you use it. Luckily, cleaning the refrigerator is simple.

Using your favorite multipurpose cleaner, wipe away spills and stains on the refrigerator shelving. Remove the drawers to be cleaned by hand in the sink. Allow to dry before putting back in the refrigerator.

If you have a water or ice dispenser, be sure to also clean the nozzle and the area around the dispenser to ensure you are receiving clean water. Also replace the water filter as needed— you can purchase replacements online and at hardware stores.


The microwave is another kitchen appliance that can get dirty quickly with food splatter. It is important to clean your microwave on a regular basis to ensure that food does not get caked onto the interior.

Simply remove the rotating dish and wash it in the sink or in the dishwasher. Wipe down the walls of the microwave with your favorite multi-purpose cleaning product. If it is stuck on, fill a small glass bowl with water and turn on the microwave for three to five minutes. This will create steam and loosen up the grime that has built up on the side of the microwave.

You can also use—you guessed it—baking soda and vinegar to help clean. To avoid food splatter in the future, place a rag or paper towel over your food as you heat it up.


Wait, the dishwasher has to be cleaned too? Yes! As it runs loads of dirty dishes, you can get build up of gunk and food that will only make your next load of dishes less clean.

The next time you unload the dishwasher, check for build up – particularly along the door – and wipe it down with your favorite cleaner. Then, fill a measuring cup with one cup of white vinegar, place it on the top shelf, and run the dishwasher (there is no need to put soap). The vinegar will help clean up buildup, and the dishwasher will be ready to go for the next load!


How you clean your countertops depends on the type of countertop material. Do you have laminate, wood, stone or concrete countertops? Each material has different care instructions and cleaning products that will work best.

  • Wood: Warm water and white vinegar. Apply wood protectant as needed. To remove stains, rub a lemon half and salt over the stain.
  • Laminate: Water and household cleaner. For stain removal, use baking soda and water.
  • Marble and granite: Warm water and your favorite mild soap. For stains, baking soda and water, or hydrogen peroxide, can be used.
  • Soapstone: Multi-purpose cleaner, which can also be used for stains (being nonporous, it is not easy to stain soapstone). 
  • Engineered stone: Warm water and your favorite mild soap. Use a glass cleaner for stains.
  • Stainless steel: Water and dish soap, or stainless steel cleaner.

No matter the countertop material, it is best to not use abrasive items to clean! Think paper towels, rags, sponges and toothbrushes.

Tips for Kitchen Remodels

Remodeling a kitchen is one of the biggest projects that a homeowner can take on. Not only is it a part of the house that is used daily, but there are a lot of components: electrical, plumbing, cabinetry, appliances and more. Luckily we have great kitchen tips for you.

Before you dig into a renovation, determine what it is that bothers you about the kitchen:

  • Are your appliances outdated? If so, purchasing a new one that is in perfect working condition may be what you need to be happy.
  • Are the cabinets a color you detest? There are ways to repaint or refinish your cabinets without having to completely demo the kitchen.
  • Are you looking to open up the space by removing a wall? This type of demolition must be left up to the professionals.

If it all of the above, or you have a dream kitchen ready to be brought to fruition, Modernize has a list of qualified contractors in your area who are waiting to begin this project with you!

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