A Minimalist Guide to Green Cleaning: Kitchen Edition
Tackling greener cleaning in my kitchen seemed daunting.
For years, I used a different cleaner for every task.
I would spray the countertops with an all-purpose cleaner or fill the sink with Lysol and use that water to clean surfaces.
Sometimes I would scrub the sink down with dish soap, other times I'd use the Lysol water. Every once in a while I'd scrub away at the sink with Comet.
For the floor, I'd use the Lysol mixed with water solution or a Spic and Span solution. Sometimes I'd throw down a little Comet to really scour the tile.
For stainless steel appliances, I would usually clean them with an all-purpose spray, but then I had a separate cleaner for shining! Must keep that stainless steel looking fancy!
Then I had several different dish soaps, at least one hand soap, dishwasher detergent, and a rinsing agent.
For truly tough stains, I had the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in reserve.
With some research, though, I realized I didn't need a special product for each cleaning task. What I needed to do was ignore the advertising roar and focus on what products would best serve my cleaning needs.
Then I needed to change my cleaning habits.
After I did some reading, I decided to adopt all four of the products below at once, and give them a shot. Now, these are the four cleaning products that keep my kitchen germ-free!
I discovered Seventh Generation, did a little reading, and was hooked! This Burlington, Vermont business has a company tagline "Caring today for seven generations of tomorrow."
This company lists all of the ingredients in their cleaning products. I can easily read that in the Free & Clear Natural Dish Liquid that I like, they do use preservatives to prevent microorganisms from growing. I'm fortunate that My Person and I don't possess any allergies, so these preservatives don't highly concern me.
I like that this particular dish soap does a great job on grease! When I have broiled a steak, I know that I can let the broiler pan soak in some warm water with Seventh Generation Dish Liquid for an hour and then spend minimal time scrubbing the grease off that pan!
For the dishwasher?
I quit using any rinse agent when I found Seventh Generation's Free & Clear Natural Dishwasher Detergent Packs. I don't need the rinse aid. I toss one of the packs into the dishwasher and press Start! The dishes come out clean with no mess left behind.
I know there are other even greener choices in homemade dishwasher detergent, but those solutions void any warranty on the dishwasher. Since we rent, I'm not keen on voiding the warranty. I'm happy that this choice is biodegradable, easy to use, and prevents me from wasting product.
For countertops, appliances, and floors?
White vinegar revolutionized how I clean in the kitchen. Sometimes baking soda helps out too. And it doesn't hurt that these two products are quite inexpensive!
For surfaces, I keep a spray bottle of vinegar handy. It cleans up just about everything! If a stain is truly set in, then I'll scrub some baking soda over the stain.
I already use color-coded mats to handle vegetables, cheese, meat, and fish, so I have work stations where I know certain types of food have touched certain colored mats. When it's time to clean up those mats, I place them in the sink, one-by-one. Then I spray the counter where the mat had been with vinegar. Sometimes I like to let the vinegar sit for a while.
I grab one of my washable microfiber sponges, and scrub away at the mat with some dish soap. After I rinse the mat, I wipe up the vinegar on the counter with reusable cloths I have. These cloths are an old sheet set torn into manageable pieces that I use to clean up all sorts of messes. I love throwing them into a wash pile instead of tearing away at paper towels, which are expensive! The microfiber sponge goes right into the same wash pile.
When I'm done washing dishes, I spray the sink down with vinegar and it keeps soap scum and hard water stains away.
If I splash any of the appliances with water, the vinegar cleans up any mess easily! And the stainless steel appliances still look just as shiny and fancy!
If anything explodes in the microwave, My Person and I clean it up immediately...with vinegar.
Seriously. We're both OCD and child-free, so keeping the microwave spotless is actually achievable for us. However, reheating fish in there can get smelly. I just grab a bowl, fill it with a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar. Let it boil in the microwave and the odors disappear!
And for the floor, we mostly keep up with our vacuuming. However, every once in a while I'll spill something unmanageable. I spray some vinegar and wipe up with a cloth. I've had one tough stain where I added some baking soda and scrubbed. The baking soda did the trick!
For my hands?
I could use the dish soap for washing my hands, but when I'm cooking I do wash my hands frequently. I prefer to keep some gentle soap around!
I started using Dr. Bronner's Magic All-One Castille Liquid Soaps years ago. My favorite is the tea tree oil one. However, I will buy the lavender or peppermint soaps to add some variety. I create a 50/50 mixture of soap and water in a hand pump and use that mixture as a hand soap in the kitchen and bathroom.
When I first discovered Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, I was struck by the busy label. As My Person noted the first time he saw the bottle, "I think Dr. Bronner needs an editor." Yep, well that label is pretty famous.
I love that this company has been family-owned for five generations. They believe in corporate responsibility and actually engage in responsible practices. From their website: "The total compensation of our highest-paid employees and executives is capped at five times that of the lowest-paid position." If profits exceed business priorities, they donate to charities and causes they support. They don't grant bonuses to executives or owners.
They can have my money!
A few years ago, I watched the documentary Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox. Much of the information about Dr. Bronner is pretty out there, but the documentary nicely showcases how this is a family business trying to honor the idea that humans can be united. I enjoyed learning more about the man who created that busy label!
So for keeping my kitchen spotless, I've narrowed down my cleaning products to four with the Dr. Bronner' soap as a nice extra perk for my hands.
Next week, I'll share how I've minimized my bathroom cleaning products.
Read the other Green Cleaning posts: