The tools you need to green clean your kitchen may actually already be right there in your kitchen cabinets, but they’re not the conventional cleaning products hidden beneath your kitchen sink. Here are some tips for green cleaning your kitchen with food ingredients. And remember… even when working with eco-friendly substances, it’s important to protect your hands be wearing rubber gloves.
Cleaning glass and chrome fixtures
Ingredients: distilled white vinegar, water
Tools: empty spray bottle, two clean microfiber cleaning cloths
Instructions: Mix vinegar and water at a 1:1 ratio – half water, half vinegar – in a spray bottle. (Be sure to label bottle with the contents and ratio of the mixture.) Shake well. Spray onto clean microfiber cloth rag and wipe surfaces clean. Then buff well with dry microfiber cloth.
Other uses: Can also be used on linoleum floors, laminate countertops and stainless steel sinks.
Tips: Don’t like the smell of vinegar? It will actually dissipate as it dries. But to create a fresher aroma and add more cleaning power, you can add a few drops of essential oil, including citrus (lemon, lime, orange, tangerine), mint (wintergreen, peppermint, spearmint) or tea tree essential oils.
Warning: Do not use this mixture on grouted tile or marble, granite, onyx or other natural stone. Vinegar is acidic and will react with silica to eat away the porous stone materials.
Cleaning stainless steel sinks, greasy stovetops and tile countertops
Ingredients: baking soda, water
Tools: sponge, microfiber cloth
Instructions: Dampen surface with wet sponge. Lightly sprinkle baking soda onto surface.
Scrub. Rinse. Wipe dry with microfiber cloth.
Tips: For tough grime, scrub and then let sit for 3-5 minutes. Then return to scrub again. Another way to work with this mixture is to place a ½ cup of baking soda in a small bowl, then add water sufficient to make a paste. Apply the paste directly to the surface, then follow steps above.
Cleaning granite countertops
Ingredients: mild eco-friendly liquid dish soap, water
Tools: soft cloth, microfiber cloth, empty spray bottle
Instructions: Pour about 1/8 cup of liquid soap into empty spray bottle. Fill with warm water. Shake to mix. (Be sure to label bottle with the contents and ratio of the mixture.)
Instructions: Spray onto clean, soft rag. Wipe surface clean. Dry with microfiber cloth. Tips: For tough stains, spray mixture directly onto surface, let sit for 3-5 minutes then scrub with soft cloth.
Warning: Always dry granite surface thoroughly after cleaning. Never use vinegar-based cleaners on granite.
Cleaning wood and bamboo cabinet facings
Ingredients: white distilled vinegar, water
Tools: empty spray bottle, sponge microfiber cloth
Instructions: Mix vinegar and water at a ratio of 1:4 – that’s one part vinegar to four parts water – in a spray bottle. (Be sure to label bottle with the contents and ratio of the mixture.) Spray lightly onto barely damp sponge and wipe surface clean. Dry thoroughly with microfiber cloth.
Warning: Do not oversoak wood or bamboo surfaces, and always dry thoroughly.
Polishing wood cabinets and bamboo cutting boards
Ingredients: extra virgin olive oil
Tools: soft cloth, microfiber rag
Instructions: After cleaning the surface with an eco-friendly product, pour a small amount of olive oil onto the soft cloth and wipe onto surface. Buff well with clean, dry microfiber to remove excess oil from surface.
Cleaning stainless steel appliances and countertops
Ingredients: club soda or olive oil
Tools: microfiber cloths
Instructions: Pour a small amount of club soda or olive oil onto microfiber. With a clean dry microfiber cloth in the other hand, use small circling motions to clean the surface, using the dry cloth in the other hand to dry and buff as you go.
Tips: This technique is also effective on stainless steel cutlery and cookware.
Cleaning inside oven
Ingredients: lemon juice, sea salt
Tools: small bowl, soft cleaning cloth, scrub brush
Instructions: Mix a paste with equal parts lemon juice and sea salt to make a scrub. Apply the paste and allow to sit 3-5 minutes. Scrub with brush and wipe clean with soft cloth.
Tips: To maintain clean oven afterwards, cut a piece of aluminum foil and completely line the bottoms of the pan with it.
Freshening garbage disposal
Ingredients: citrus peelings, cut into small pieces
Instructions: Place a few pieces of citrus peel down the disposal. Pour water down the drain while you turn on the disposal. As the blades chop the peel, the citrus oils will release fresh aroma.
Tips: To sharpen the blades while you freshen the disposal, add a few ice cubes.
Warning: Be sure to cut the peel into small pieces and to place only a few pieces into the disposal at one time.
Polishing copper and brass with lemon
Ingredients: lemon juice, distilled white vinegar, baking soda, water, salt/sea salt, lemon
Tools: small bowl, clean soft cloth
Instructions: In a bowl, mix 2 Tbs lemon juice with 2 Tbs vinegar. For light tarnish, this mixture may be sufficient for the job. For more resistant tarnish, add baking soda sufficient to create a gritty paste. Rub mixture or paste onto tarnished surface with soft cloth. Rinse. Dry with microfiber cloth.
How it works: Vinegar is acidic and reacts with the oxidized metal, which is the actual tarnish on the surface. Caustic cleaners like ammonia react with the grime, the metal and the tarnish, which can etch the metal, can remove engraving, etc.
Tips: An alternate method is to cut a lemon in half and sprinkle salt onto the lemon, sufficient that the juice of the lemon doesn’t dissolve the salt. Rub directly onto the metal surface. Rinse well and dry with soft cloth.
Warning: Do not scrub brass- or copper-plated items, as they are more delicate than solid brass and copper. To determine which you have, use a magnet. If the magnet attracts, there is another type of metal beneath; therefore you have plated brass or copper, not solid.
Polishing brass with onion
Ingredients: onion, water
Tools: sharp knife, strainer, small sauce pan, soft cloth
Instructions: Place coarsely chopped onions in pan of water, enough water to cover them. Boil. Use strainer to remove onions, use onion water and soft cloth to polish
Tips: Finely chopped onions will be difficult to strain completely, so be sure to chop onions coarsely.
Ingredients: baking soda, water
Tools: aluminum foil, sauce pan
Instructions:. To clean smaller pieces of silver, place a 4” square piece of aluminum foil in the bottom of sauce pan. Add 1 Tbs. of baking soda and pan with water, then place silver items into the pan and boil until silver is shiny and tarnish has been transferred to the foil. To clean larger pieces or several pieces of silver, boil the water and pour in a sink lined with aluminum foil, then add 1 cup baking soda and a pinch of salt. Soak items for a few minutes to let the tarnish transfer to the foil. Alternate method of cleaning silver with baking soda is to make a paste with baking soda and water. Apply to silver, wipe gently with soft cloth. Then rinse and dry with clean soft cloth.
Tips: Use a cotton swap to remove tarnish from small details on silver items.
Warning: Do not use vinegar or salt on silver. Do not scrub with brush; use soft cloth only.
Clearing clogged or slow drains
Ingredients: distilled white vinegar, baking soda
Instructions: Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain and follow with ½ cup of vinegar. Flush with hot water until water drains properly.
How it works: A chemical reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar will produce churning action and move the clog along
Tips: Perform this task regularly to prevent build-up in drains. An alternate method of preventive maintenance is to mix a strong brine of salt and hot water and pour down the drain once a week to degrease.
More quick tips for green cleaning with kitchen ingredients
Absorb large spills from carpet quickly by covering them in cornmeal. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, then vacuum.
Treat ring-around-the-collar and remove rust stains from fabric with a paste made from cream of tartar and water. Apply liberally, then launder.
Prevention is key to cleaning green. Wipe up spills and drips as soon as they happen to avoid hard-to-remove stains later on. Use a squeegee to remove water from your shower and glass shower doors at the end of each shower to prevent growth of mildew and bacteria and accumulation of soap scum.
Consider packaging as you shop for grocery items for cleaning use. Choose items with minimal packaging or packaging that you can either reuse or recycle.
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