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“The name Grossy is ironic,” says Dan Pelosi, Internet-famous chef (as @grossypelosi) and author of a new book, Let’s Eat. “I am very much cut from the same cloth as my mother and sister—we are all clean freaks. The kind of people who clean before we clean.”

Even though Pelosi’s book is filled with Italian American–inspired recipes (including his famous vodka sauce and a fold-out of a hoagie), he says that tidying up as he cooks makes him happy. “I am a clean-as-you go person, which keeps cooking joyful and not chaotic,” he says. “Even still, I have to do dishes at the end of a meal, usually surrounded by a few lingering guests, which leads to great conversation and laughter.”

But his absolutely favorite cleaning partner is his mother, who taught him all he knows: “All that time I spent complaining about having to help clean when I was a kid? Turns out it made me into a self-sufficient domestic queen myself, and I could not be more grateful.” In this excerpt from his book, Pelosi shares his mom’s best tidying-up tricks. 

Book cover of Let's Eat by Dan Pelosi
Let’s Eat by Dan Pelosi, Amazon ($27)

Grossy’s Mom’s Guide to Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning her house, my mom is an unmatched force—except maybe by my sister, who is equally intense. The two of them will clean you out of house and home. In fact, when they come to visit me, they do. Some of you are probably thinking, Dan’s mom should meet my mom; no one cleans like her. And you are absolutely right, no one cleans quite like your own mom. Others of you are probably thinking, My mom did not clean a thing, please help! This guide is for children of dust busters and dust bunnies alike. I asked my mom to list her best cleaning tips, thinking she would type them up and email them. Instead, a few days later, she handed me an envelope with handwritten instructions on folded notepad paper. That dossier is transcribed for you here, word for word.

Cleaning Your Oven
Combine 1 cup distilled white vinegar and 2 cups water in an ovenproof pot. Set the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and leave the pot in the oven for 20 minutes or up to an hour. Remove the pot and turn off the oven. Once the oven is cool, wipe it clean.

Cleaning Your Fridge
Fill a spray bottle with 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar and 2 cups water. Spray and wipe the fridge, inside and outside. Old socks work well for wiping.

Cleaning Your Sink
Plug the sink. Add 2 tablespoons baking soda and plenty of water and let it soak. Drain and it sparkles. For tougher stains, like rust, lime stains, and tarnish, apply Bar Keepers Friend with a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse well.

Cleaning Your Faucet
To clean buildup on the faucet, fill a plastic sandwich bag with apple cider vinegar and a few drops of essential oil (optional, but it smells nice). Secure the bag over the faucet with a rubber band and leave it overnight. Rinse in the morning and all grime will be gone!

Cleaning Your Countertops
Fill a spray bottle with 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar and 2 cups water. Spray and wipe with a soft cloth daily.

Cleaning Your Dishwasher
When the dishwasher begins to smell, add 2 tablespoons baking soda and 2 cups distilled white vinegar to the bottom of the basin. Let that sit for 20 minutes, then run a rinse cycle.

Cleaning Your Microwave
Combine 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar and 1 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave and turn the microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove the bowl and wipe down the insides of the microwave with a soft cloth. The old sock works well here, too.

Cleaning Your Dutch Ovens, Pans & Sheet Pans
Always let pans cool before cleaning or the bottom will warp and the pans will no longer lie flat on the burner. For light cleaning, use Dawn dish soap. Heavier cleaning calls for Bar Keepers Friend. The heaviest cleaning requires soaking overnight with water and kosher salt and rinsing in the morning. Stuck-on food sometimes calls for boiling a mixture of water and white vinegar in the pan on the stovetop, which works well to loosen up the food and stains before washing.

Cleaning Your Kitchen Cabinets
Add 1 capful Murphy’s Oil Soap to 1 gallon warm water. Wipe the cabinets with a soft cloth. This also works well on woodwork, baseboards, and wood doors.

Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors
Combine 1/2 cup Windex and 1 gallon water. Wash the floors with the mixture—a Swiffer fitted with another old sock works great.

Dusting Your Everything
Wear old wool gloves to use as dustcloths so you can easily get everywhere, especially around hard shapes or all those knickknacks. Throw them in the laundry and use them again and again. Once a month, spray Pledge on the gloves.

Reprinted with permission from Let’s Eat: 101 Recipes to Fill Your Heart & Home by Dan Pelosi © 2023. Published by Union Square & Co. Photography © Andrew Bui.

Grossy’s Mom’s Favorite Cleaning Products