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Welcome to Little Lake County’s Green Guide to Spring Cleaning Series, where we will share our favorite green cleaning tips, ways to simplify your home, and ideas for the kids to help. Follow us room by room to transform spring cleaning from a dreaded annual chore to a healthy and productive family activity.
Spring Cleaning – The Kitchen
Getting Started with Green Cleaning
When I first began my own green cleaning journey, I was overwhelmed and stocked up on a plethora of various expensive and supposedly green products. If only I knew that it could be so much more simple. Armed with some empty spray bottles and the following common household products, I can clean any area of the home easier and cheaper than any of the store-bought alternatives:
- Distilled white vinegar
- Baking soda
- Castile Soap (an all-vegetable based soap, a popular brand is Dr. Bronner’s)
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Essential oils (if you like things to smell pretty)
Green Cleaning in the Kitchen
Sink, countertops, refrigerator shelves, cooktop… I clean them all with my homemade all-purpose cleaner. Really, just about every area of my home can be cleaned using my basic all-purpose cleaning spray.
Kristy’s All-Purpose Cleaning Spray Recipe:
- 1/2c (roughly, I never measure) vinegar
- a few squirts of castile soap
- add water to fill the top of the bottle
Basically, it’s a ratio of about 10:1 water to vinegar with the soap added in for extra oomph! Worried about that vinegar smell? Have no fear; it dissipates once it’s dry and leaves your home with the smell of clean.
Note: If you have natural stone in your kitchen, (i.e., granite countertops, etc.) you will want to avoid using vinegar or any kind of acidic cleaner as these will etch the stone. Loralie has a homemade recipe she uses for her countertops and spot cleaning floors:
Loralie’s Granite & Natural Stone Cleaner
- approximately 2 cups Rubbing Alcohol (she doesn’t measure either!)
- 2 cups of water
- 5 drops liquid dish soap
Depending on what size spray bottle you’re using, it’s a 1:1 ratio of water to alcohol but you could probably get away with using much less alcohol. Experiment and see what works best for you.
If you have butcher block counters you can use Melissa’s favorite trick, Kosher Salt and Lemon:
Cleaning Butcher Block with Lemon and Salt:
- Wipe counter of crumbs
- Sprinkle counter with Kosher Salt (make larger piles over stains)
- Squeeze lemon juice on to salt to make a paste
- Let sit for a few minutes or overnight (I have 4 kids and one counter, I never let it sit more than 5 minutes)
- Use the leftover lemon rind to scrub the counter in a circular motion.
- Wipe off salt with a wet sponge or rag and enjoy the beauty of your wood
This works great on wood cutting boards too!
And while you’re at it, give yourself a challenge to ditch the paper towels; use old rags, cut up old sheets, t-shirts and towels, keep old kitchen towels that have seen better days. You will find that you have more than enough to clean your house without hurting any trees.
Now how about cleaning that oven?
Start with a warm oven, then sprinkle everywhere with baking soda. Follow by spraying the above all-purpose cleaner all over. I sometimes find I need to make a good thick paste for the window, mixing baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice then scrubbing it all over. Let it all fizz with the door open and wait a few hours. When you think you’re ready, scrub with a good brush, wipe several times with wet rags, then do one last spray of your cleaner and wipe dry to shine. Sometimes I find that I can run the self-clean cycle after doing my own deep cleaning to really get that last bit of grime off.
Slow drain or stinky disposal? No problem!
Putting the eggshells and lemon rinds down the disposal keeps the blades sharp and the stink at bay. Sometimes, you still may end up with stinky disposal or a slow drain. Who’s taking bets that this involves baking soda and vinegar? Ding ding, we have a winner! Pour some boiling hot water down the drain and a good amount of baking soda, followed by a cup of vinegar mixed with a little more hot water. Wait 5-10 minutes and rinse with more hot water. Your drain should work like new!
Put the kids to work.
Having help from little ones doesn’t always make a cleaning job easier, but when you are using natural products, you can rest assured that the job will be much safer! A few things particularly suited for little ones include setting them up with a stool at the sink to scrub your refrigerator drawers or letting them takeover spraying and wiping countertops. It’s a great way to allow them to contribute and feel a sense of accomplishment! And you will feel better knowing they aren’t exposing themselves to toxic cleaners.
Find our full Spring Cleaning Series:
By Kristy K.
Kristy is the mother of two young children, who join in her quest for unique restaurants, fun places to play and a little personal sanity in the process. She does her best to teach her children healthy habits, kindness, compassion and a love of nature while also learning that sometimes we need to let go of our ideals in the name of fun.
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