Category Archives: Cleaning

When Life Gives You Lemons- CLEAN!

With their fresh citrus aroma, acidic properties and affordable price, lemons make the perfect natural cleaning product for your kitchen! Here are a few ways to incorporate lemon freshness into your cleaning routine.

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Use lemon peels to make an organic kitchen cleaner. Start collecting peels from lemons, or any other citrus fruits, in a large mason jar. When there are enough peels to fill the jar at least halfway, pour vinegar in until the jar is full, cover with a lid, and set in a dark place for two weeks. When all is said and done, you’ll have an all-natural, effective cleanser that smells great!

 

Clean your microwave. Why bother with scrubbing when you’ve got lemons in your corner? Simply cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice from both halves into a small microwave-safe measuring cup of water, throw the rinds in there too, and microwave for 3 minutes on high power. Let stand for 5 minutes without opening the microwave door, then wipe clean, starting with the ceiling and sides. Voila!

 

Use lemon and salt to clean your wooden cutting boards. To get rid of grease and grime and freshen your wooden cutting surfaces, sprinkle them with coarse salt, then take half a lemon and scrub the surface, cut side down. Make sure to squeeze out lemon juice as you scrub. Let sit for 5 minutes then scrape all the nasty sludge off with a bench scraper (or other scraping tool, like a spatula), then rinse with a clean sponge. You’ll be amazed how clean they get!

 

No more stinky garbage disposal. Here’s a tip we all know…sort of. Instead of grinding up lemon peels with ice and salt like our moms probably told us, try zesting the lemon into the disposal, letting it sit for at least 5 minutes, then turning on the disposal and flushing with cold water. It’s a new twist on an old classic. (Twist? See what I did there?)

 

Polish your knives. If your knife set is suffering from rust spots as a result of being put back in the block with a little water still on them, try a little lemon juice with a sponge to polish them up and get them looking good as new!

 

BONUS: Use lemons in your kitchen décor. Well, this is all well and good, you’re thinking, but where on Earth shall I store all these lemons I’ll need for all these fabulous tips? The best news of all is that lemons are a great way to add a homey yet elegant touch, not to mention a pop of color, to any kitchen. Lemons can be stored in beautiful bowls or fruit baskets on the countertop, or even on your kitchen table as a beautiful centerpiece. Not only will they make your kitchen smell divine, but they will be right there on hand for any cleaning mission you hope to accomplish.

Chemical-Free Oven Cleaning

It’s getting to be that time of year again. The season of baked goods, family gatherings with large meals and festive parties is upon us, and that means that you will likely be using your oven a lot more than usual! Now is a great time to get your oven ready for cooking and baking, but what is the best way to get it clean? These days, nearly everyone has a self-cleaning oven, of course, but even after running the self-clean cycle, there is still the question of what to do with all that burnt, black gunk that has fallen onto the bottom. Also, there is the fact that the self-cleaning feature isn’t always the most practical method for cleaning out your oven, what with the way it can make a particularly dirty oven smoke, and produces that hideous burning smell. Why not skip it altogether in favor of something natural and, ultimately, easier? That’s right- our old friends baking soda and vinegar are back, and this time they are ready to make this oven-cleaning experience your best one yet!

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What You Need:

Oven (obvious, but true)

Baking soda

Water

Dish cloth (preferably not a decorative one you like to display)

Plastic or silicone spatula

Spray bottle

White vinegar

Bathtub (for cleaning oven racks)

Powdered or liquid dish detergent (for cleaning oven racks)

What You Do:

  1. Remove the oven racks and set aside
  2. Make a paste of ½ cup baking soda and 2-3 tablespoons water. Paste should be spreadable consistency.
  3. Spread paste all over inside of oven, avoiding the heating elements. Pay special attention to particularly greasy or dirty areas of the oven.
  4. Let sit overnight, or at least 12 hours.
  5. Clean oven racks while you’re waiting. This can be accomplished by soaking them in the bathtub overnight with ½ cup dishwasher detergent and then scrubbing with a non-abrasive scrub brush or sponge.
  6. Wipe out oven with a damp dish cloth the following day. The spatula will come in handy to scrape off the paste if the damp dish cloth doesn’t get the hard-to-reach spots.
  7. Spray with vinegar in a spray bottle to get rid of all the left-behind baking soda residue. The vinegar will make the baking soda foam a bit (hello, science project volcano lesson!)
  8. Wipe out remaining vinegar/baking soda foam until all residue is gone.
  9. Replace oven racks.

Enjoy the holidays with your shiny, clean oven! Not only will it save you from the embarrassment of pulling a turkey out of an oven filled with stinky black smoke, but it can also make the finished product taste better.

Household Hint: How to Get Mildew Smell out of Towels

We’ve all been there- wiping down our countertops or drying off pots and pans with what we believe is a fresh dishcloth, only to have a moldy, mildew smell rise up and smack us in the face. Gross! According to laundry experts, that smell occurs in towels, washcloths and other linens when dirt and grime gets trapped in their fibers, along with detergent buildup, and then left wet for too long, either in a hamper or the washing machine. Before you give up and buy a whole new set of towels, know that there is a cure! Follow these easy steps to restore your towels to their original, mildew-free glory:

Wash towels in special vinegar load- Round up the offending towels and throw them into the washing machine on the hot setting, along with one cup of white vinegar. Make sure to wash like colors together to minimize the risk of bleeding. DO NOT add detergent or bleach. Once the cycle completes, toss into the dryer as usual and get ready to enjoy folding some delicious-smelling towels. If a little bit of stank remains, don’t fret- just repeat the steps above, this time using ½ cup baking soda instead of the vinegar. This step is necessary for severely mildewed towels.

 

Wash your washer- Now that you’ve cured your towels, you want to prevent the mildew from ever coming back. One of the ways to accomplish this is to wash your washing machine. Running a monthly cleaning cycle with one of the many specialty washing machine cleaners on the market, such as Tide and Affresh, is effective, but running a normal cycle with hot water after adding bleach to the dispenser can kill just as many germs for a lot less cost.

 

Improve your laundry habits- OK, so now your towels and washer are both clean, fresh and free of odor-causing bacteria. Now all you have to do is keep them that way! One quick and easy way to remedy the mildew issue is to remove clothes from the washer promptly, rather than letting them sit there for hours before putting them into the dryer. Additionally, consider hanging wet towels and damp washcloths over the shower curtain rod or towel rack to dry before tossing them into the hamper. And always leave the lid or door to your washer open to allow air to circulate and dry out any moisture. These preventive measures are especially important if you live in a humid climate, where everything takes longer to dry properly.

Keep Your Fridge Clean- Easy Tips for a Busy Life

If you know me, you know I’m a person who likes to keep things clean. I especially pride myself on a nice spic-and-span kitchen, with the stainless steel appliances and kitchen island wiped down to perfection. Imagine my horror, then, when I looked into the fridge this morning and realized…I’m one of those people with a disgusting refrigerator!

Don’t get me wrong- from the outside it’s picture perfect. Streak-free, no fingerprints, everything tidy right down to the tray under the water and ice dispenser. But open the doors and suddenly you’re hit with spilled juice dribbles, white rings from underneath the milk jug, a streak of hot sauce from a once-mighty breakfast burrito and what has to be three weeks’ worth of suspect-looking Tupperware full of leftovers I’m frankly afraid to view. How did this happen to me?

Fear not, fellow Type A neat-freaks: you’re not alone. Cleaning out your refrigerator can be a simple task that you can do once a week to stay on top of the accumulation and basic grunge of everyday living. For the big jobs, follow this link for a handy checklist from Real Simple on how to give your refrigerator a deep cleaning in only 20 minutes, but you can also just follow these handy tips for a 5-minute weekly spot-clean sure to keep your refrigerator fresh, clean and free of nastiness.

 

Clean the fridge on Trash Day- This way you can just pitch all the questionable looking fruits, veggies and meats that are past their use-by date right into the bin and take it straight out to the curb. No stinky garbage to contend with! Also, if you’re like me and prefer to use the disposable food storage containers instead of the pricey, reusable kind, you can just toss any containers you’re scared to open right into the trash too, avoiding a run-in with your gag reflex.

Windex is your friend! -The shelves on most modern fridges are made of tempered glass, making a glass cleaner like Windex the ideal cleaning agent. Clear the shelves one at a time, top to bottom, and clean with a cloth sprayed with Windex. (Don’t actually spray the Windex into the fridge, as it might contaminate any uncovered food on the lower shelves.)

Baking Soda, Baking Soda, Baking Soda!- This wonder substance can be used to freshen and deodorize virtually anything, but its ability to keep odors from forming in the refrigerator is really what put it on the map as a household cleaning staple. These days you can even buy baking soda in a fridge-friendly pod that suctions right to the inner fridge wall! I prefer to go old-school with a nice 50-cent box of Arm and Hammer with the top ripped off. It’s cheap, it’s effective, and it makes all the difference. (Just don’t use the same box of baking soda that you have open for deodorizing in, say, a cookie recipe, because that’s just gross.)

Time to shine!- Now that the inside of your fridge is all spiffy, make the exterior gleam with a mix of equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. This keeps the stainless steel streak-free and squeaky-clean without any residue or buildup. For extra disinfecting power, run a cleaning wipe down the door handles, where germs love to hide. I like Clorox Wipes myself. An alternative to the water-vinegar combo if you’re really in a hurry is a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Not only does it take about 17 seconds to clean the whole outside of the fridge, but it also leaves behind minimal residue, keeping your fridge from looking dull.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever found in your fridge? Let us know in the comments below.

Everyday Items to Clean Your Appliances

Who says cleaning products must be costly to clean effectively? Banish those harsh chemicals and pricey concoctions for good and keep your appliances beautiful using things you already have laying around in your kitchen. You will be amazed how you can keep all of your kitchen appliances sparkling clean and running like new, just by using things like:

 

Baking Soda-

While the uses for baking soda are seemingly limitless, baking soda has long been associated with deodorizing refrigerators. In fact, Arm and Hammer actually manufactures a special container that is designed to be stuck on the inside fridge wall and changed monthly. When it comes to deodorizing with baking soda, why stop at the refrigerator? It can be dusted along the bottom of the dishwasher, rubbed into a microwave with a damp cloth and sprinkled liberally down the garbage disposal, all with the same wonderful effect of eliminating kitchen odors.

 

Vinegar-

Baking soda’s time-honored partner in home cleaning remedies, white vinegar is useful for a variety of household tasks. One particularly inventive use of vinegar, mixed with an equal amount of water, is as an anti-grease agent to prevent buildup inside your oven. If you are concerned about the toxicity of bleach and other cleaning agents on the market, vinegar is a great, safe and eco-friendly alternative. It can be used to wipe down countertops and cabinets.

 

Tang-

The powdery orange drink originally designed for astronauts has a secret identity as a powerful dishwasher cleaner! Using Tang instead of dish detergent in a hot-water cycle can give the inside of the dishwasher an all-over clean, thanks to the acidity of the powder.

 

Coffee-

Another way to effectively eliminate odors in the refrigerator is to place a small bowl of coffee grounds on one of the fridge shelves, replacing every two months for best results. The best part- the grounds can even be used! Talk about recycling!