• Autism Speaks

Apr
14

Earth-friendly cleaning in the kitchen

There are hundreds of products available to clean your house. Most of the ones on the grocery store shelf contain harmful chemicals and toxic compounds, and some of the most dangerous are made for the kitchen and the bath. When it comes to the kitchen, most items can be cleaned with vinegar, baking soda, salt and lemon juice without the potential health risks of commercial alternatives. Here are some earth-friendly ways to tackle your kitchen clean-up jobs.

All purpose/multi-surface cleaners

A simple cleaner suitable for all your kitchen surfaces can be made by mixing 1 quart of warm water, 1 teaspoon of borax and a splash of lemon juice or vinegar. If you don’t want to use borax on food surfaces, try a mixture of 1 quart warm water and ½ cup vinegar.

Glass Cleaner

Mix 1 quart of water with ½ cup vinegar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or rubbing alcohol. Pour the mixture in a spray bottle and use on glass surfaces. Use newspaper instead of paper towels to wipe the glass. It’s eco-friendly and it doesn’t leave lint behind like paper towels will.

Scratches can be removed from glass by rubbing toothpaste into the scratch and polishing with a clean cloth.

Degreaser

Here you’ll still need a store-bought product, but opt for a scouring powder that doesn’t contain chlorine and use fine steel wool or a nylon scouring pad.

Coffee pots

Coffee maker cleaner is commercially available in most stores, but a cheaper, chemical-free method is to fill the reservoir with white vinegar and run it through a normal cycle, then follow up with one or two cycles with clean water only to rinse out any residual vinegar taste and smell. This method is actually more effective at removing calcium and lime than the brand name products…trust me I’ve tried them all.

Remove coffee stains from the inside of the coffee pot by scouring with a salt or baking soda mixture. Add enough water to make a moist paste and rub with a sponge or cloth until clean. Rinse thoroughly. This method also works to remove tea and coffee stains from porcelain and china cups.

Oven Cleaner

If you can get to spills before they cool, sprinkle with salt and rub with a sponge. Cooled spills are tougher. Try making a paste from baking soda, salt and water and scrub spots with the mixture. For really tough spots make a solution of 2 tablespoons liquid soap and 2 teaspoons borax in 1 quart of warm water. Spray on oven surfaces and let sit for 20 minutes before scrubbing with fine steel wool.

Stainless Steel

Clean stainless steel cookware by rubbing with undiluted white or cider vinegar. The same method can be used on tableware. Remove heat stains or streaks by rubbing with club soda. Sinks can be cleaned by rubbing with olive oil.

Aluminum

Remove stains from aluminum cookware by filling with hot water and adding cream of tartar at the ratio of 2 tablespoons per quart of liquid. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, then rinse and dry.

Brass and Copper

Brass may be cleaned with Worcestershire sauce or by rubbing with toothpaste. You may also boil onions and use the water after the onions have been removed. Tomato paste or ketchup is also effective. Coat the metal and let sit. The acid in the tomatoes take off tarnish. For added shine and brightness, rub brass with a small amount of olive oil after cleaning.

Brass and copper can be cleaned by making a paste of either lemon juice and salt, or lemon juice and cream of tartar. Apply the paste and let sit for 5 minutes, then rinse off with warm water and dry.

Silver

To polish silver, mix 1 quart of warm water with 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon salt and a piece of aluminum foil. Soak the silver for 5 minutes. This creates an ionized solution that works like a reverse-plating process, removing the tarnish particles from the silver and attaching them to the aluminum foil. The foil can then be thrown in your recycle bin.

Pewter

To clean pewter, make a paste of 1 cup white vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and enough flour to thicken the mixture. Apply the paste to the pewter and let it sit for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Then rinse with warm water and buff dry.

Not only are these cleaning alternatives more earth-friendly than most of the commercially available products, they are just as effective and will cost you much less money. Have other suggestions? Please feel free to add your comments and let us know your ideas.

For further reading on this topic, check out the following resources:

Image courtesy of visualphotos.com.

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