10 Quick Nontoxic Kitchen Cleaning Tips

    [fa icon="user"] Hannah Gardener [fa icon="folder-open'] Vinegar, Cleaning, Kitchen

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    Everyone wants a clean and healthy kitchen. If you're looking to achieve both without introducing unhealthy chemicals, here are some simple Do’s and Don’ts.

    The goal?

    You're first step is to eliminate harmful ingredients that are commonly found in cleaning products. Check your labels and don't buy anything that contains ammonia, bleach, sodium hydroxide (lye), butyl cellosolve, triclosan, and petroleum distillates. You'll be replacing those with kinder and equally effective options.  

    Supplies   Diluted vinegar or diluted castile soap is all you typically need to clean your kitchen. However, if raw meat touches a surface then a powerful disinfectant is needed, like food-grade hydrogen peroxide.

    Light Touches    Most people don’t associate kitchen cleaning with dusting, but dust builds up all over our homes and it is laden with toxic chemicals including flame retardants and hormone-disrupting phthalates. If you only have a few minutes to clean, dust and vacuum. 

    Simple Tip   Use diluted vinegar to wipe fingerprints off of stainless steel appliances rather than degreasers. Wipe down the inside of your refrigerator with diluted vinegar. 

    Hand Washing  Washing with soap and water has been shown to be equally effective and safer than antibacterial soaps, especially those containing triclosan, a known endocrine disrupting chemical.

    Just as Easy   Opening windows is the easiest way to freshen and clean the air in your kitchen. It is especially important if you have a gas stove, which can contribute to indoor air pollution. 

    Food Packaging   Transfer prepared foods with a thermal label sticker (the kind of labels seen on deli packages and pre-cut fresh fruit) into glass containers before putting them in the refrigerator. Thermal sticker labels are often coated in a powder that contains either BPA or BPS, both hormone-disrupting chemicals. The powder can easily rub off onto hands and on to the contents of your refrigerator.

    Speaking of Containers   Replace plastic containers with stainless steel.  Plastic BPA-free containers are available,  but the substitute chemicals are now under scrutiny. In the world of better and best, continue shifting toward stainless steel or glass.  If you have plastic, hand wash.  The high heat of the dishwasher can degrade the plastic over time, making it more likely to leach.

    Consider how you line pans:  Avoid lining pans with aluminum foil with the goal of making dishwashing easier and faster. Aluminum foil can leach aluminum into foods, particularly foods that are acidic or high in fats. Along the same lines avoid using oven liners. Like most nonstick products, oven liners contain unhealthy perfluorochemicals and generate fumes at regular cooking/baking temperatures.

    Spills Happen   Do your best to avoid spills in the oven, which is easier than cleaning them up. If pans are too full and likely to spill over, place a piece of aluminum foil on the lower rack to catch any drips. 

    If You Have To...  Using the self-clean cycle on your oven impairs indoor air quality. If you must use the self-clean cycle, open all of the windows and leave your home while the cycle is running. 


    Ready for more? Explore:

    12 Uses for Castile Soap 
    My Famously Fantastic Weed Killer 
    9 Short-Cuts for Cleaning With Vinegar


    Hannah Gardener

    Written by Hannah Gardener

    Dr. Hannah Gardener is an epidemiologist in the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami and founder of a nontoxic living consulting business, A Green Slate. Hannah spends her research time examining modifiable risk factors for neurological diseases like stroke and dementia, with a focus on diet. She received her doctorate in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2007, where she focused on prenatal and early life exposures in relation to autism, Parkinson's Disease and multiple sclerosis. She was also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Miami.

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