DEEP: Environmental Alternatives for the Kitchen

Household Alternatives - In The Kitchen

{Images of kitchen scenes}
 
Cleaning the kitchen may involve getting rid of grease and grime from the stove, oven, the microwave and other surfaces. We also want to keep our kitchens free of insects and germs. The good news is that we don't need toxic cleaning products to do the job. Baking soda, lemons and vinegar are just some of the things you can use to keep your kitchen clean without harsh chemicals. Try some of the non-toxic cleaners listed on this page and or go additional resources for more ideas.  
 
Product
Recipes for non-toxic cleaners
All Purpose Pour 3 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 teaspoon borax, and 2 cups of water into a spray bottle. Shake to dissolve. Then add 1 teaspoon liquid soap (or dishwashing liquid) to the bottle and shake it again. Spray on surface and then wipe clean. For tough dirt, leave cleaner on for a few minutes and then wipe off.
Drain Cleaner
Pour cup baking soda, followed by a cup of white vinegar, down the drain. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then rinse it down with boiling water. To clear a badly clogged drain, use a plunger or a metal snake.
 
Related info:
Marble Use mild soap and water only. Dry with soft cloth.
Brass and Copper

Mix 1/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup white vinegar in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup salt and mix well. Spoon onto tarnished item and let sit for at least 1 hour. Rinse and wipe clean to prevent corrosion. Polish with a small amount of olive oil.

Cleanser

Use baking soda on a damp sponge. For tougher stains, mix 1 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup borax in bowl, dampen sponge, and scoop up cleanser.

Oven Cleaner Make sure oven is turned off. Make a paste of baking soda and water and put on the top, sides and bottom of the oven. Be careful to avoid the heating element. Let it set overnight. Scoop out baking soda and then wipe clean with a damp cloth. Use scouring pad for tough spots.
Burnt Pans Add water to the pan to cover the bottom and sprinkle in a few tablespoons of baking soda. Bring it to a boil and turn off the heat. Wait until the pan is cool and the burnt material will easily come off.
Windows and Glass Mix 1/4 cup white vinegar in about 1/2 gallon of warm water in a bucket. Then add 1/8 teaspoon liquid soap (or dishwashing liquid), and a pinch of cornstarch to the bucket. Wipe down the glass with this mixture and dry with a lint-free cloth. For spray bottle, pour 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 cups of water into a spray bottle. Add 2 drops of liquid soap and shake to mix. Spray on glass and wipe with lint-free cloth. Club soda (not seltzer) in a spray bottle can be used for touch-ups.
Sponges
Use pure cellulose sponges available in some natural food or hardware stores. Most sponges contain triclosan, an antibacterial agent. Instead, disinfect sponges by boiling them for 3 minutes in a pot of water, put in the top rack of the dishwasher or microwave for 1 minute. 
 
An alternative to sponges are good quality, washable microfiber cloths.  
 
Related info:
Stainless Steel Use baking soda on a sponge to scrub and rinse well.
Chrome Use club soda (not seltzer) in a spray bottle and dry with soft cloth.
Silver Rub gently with baking soda and damp sponge or use a non-gel toothpaste; OR pour water into an aluminum or enameled pan lined with aluminum foil on the bottom. Fill to a depth of 2-3 inches (enough to cover silver with water). Add 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. Heat until water boils. Add tarnished silver and boil for 3 minutes. Remove silver, wash in soapy water, and polish dry. (Not for use on silver jewelry, silver items with glued components, or flatware with hollow handles.)
Refrigerator Smells Keep an open box of baking soda inside the refrigerator. 
Ants Locate entry points and seal with caulk. Remove all sources of food and water. Kill any visible ants. Use chili powder or the herb "tansy" at points of entry outside the house.
Roaches Remove all sources of food and water. Remove hiding places such as old newspapers, garbage bags, and cardboard boxes. Caulk and plug cracks and crevices. The last resort is to use boric acid; this must be kept away from pets and children. 
Garbage Disposal Deodorizer
Use citrus rings or ice cubes.
 
Related info:
Additional Resources
 
Disclaimer: The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) maintains the content on this web page to enhance public access to information and facilitate understanding of environmental issues. The CT DEEP is not recommending these resources over any others and recognizes these represent only a partial listing of resources on this subject.

Content Last Updated November 2011

Household Alternatives