Now that I’m officially freaked out about the germs on my dish sponge, I’ve started thinking about the cleanliness of my other kitchen items. And it isn’t great. A 2013 study found that things like blenders, sinks, and countertops are hotbeds for salmonella, e. coli, and yeast bacteria, and you know what else is high on that list? Can openers.

So I’m setting out to learn more about proper kitchen maintenance, starting with how to clean a can opener like the one I use multiple times a week to open non-perishables.

Turns out that cleaning a can opener is crazy easy and so satisfying, it makes me want to tackle other kitchen grunge spots. I’m coming for you, pea-caked high chair straps!

Related: How to clean reusable water bottles to kill all those germs. 

How to clean a can opener: Cool Mom Eats

Step one: Soak the can opener

Vinegar is definitely the best way to clean off rust and residual gunk, and there’s no need to go to the store since the white or apple cider you already have works great. Find a container that’s wide enough to completely submerge the gears on your can opener, then just dip and wait. I let mine soak for about 20 minutes.

How to clean a can opener: Cool Mom Eats

Step two: Scrub the can opener

By this point, the grime on your can opener should be nice and loose, if it hasn’t fallen off already. Grab a toothbrush (or another dish brush with small bristles) and work it over. If it still looks dirty, soak again and repeat the entire process.

How to clean a can opener: Cool Mom Eats

Step three: Clean the gears

My can opener was pretty clean after the soak and scrub steps, but I wanted to make sure I got off any residue that might still be trapped in the gears. To do this, I clamped the can opener on a towel, the same way I’d open a can, and turned one full rotation. Done and done!

Now, let’s just hope those high chair straps are as easy.

All photos: Caroline Siegrist