Monday, January 27, 2014

Cheap Homemade Kitchen Cleaners that are Safer for Kids

I like to label the tops of my spray bottles with their purpose,
and on the side I put a label with the recipe, so that it's easy
to refill when needed.
Okay - think for a minute about the 5 most popular brands of spray cleaners that you can use in the kitchen. How many of them would you like to ingest?

How many of them do you think you DO ingest, when you spray & wipe things you clean near your fruit bowl? Or, when you use you use one of them to clean the inside of your microwave before you cook in it? Or when you use it to spray down the inside of the fridge without removing all of the food from it first?

This is the thought that has bothered me for years, but kept bugging me even more when I had a little baby with a system much more sensitive than mine.

To avoid ingesting these things, I suppose the logical thing to do would be to remove all the food from the fridge before I spray & wipe a shelf to clean it. Or, take the fruit bowl & fresh bread away from the kitchen while I clean the counters. And, of course, to fully rinse the inside of the microwave before cooking in it.

But, I'm not such a great housekeeper to begin with (in fact, I'm sure that SOMEONE I know - if not several people - will get a good laugh out of the fact that I'm posting about cleansers at all). To add a few hours to my cleaning routine was NOT a good way to get anything done!

And, of course, I should make sure that my daughter was not standing near me when I cleaned - to make sure that none of these chemicals were accidentally sprayed in her face, ending up in her eyes or respiratory tract. But - she LIKES to stand right in the way of what I'm doing, and watch me. Isn't that how kids are supposed to learn?

Besides that, so many kitchen cleaners actually can be harmful or fatal to children should they accidentally drink some! And THAT was a VERY scary thought!

So, I started looking for ways to clean my Kitchen without having any more toxin exposure than was necessary.

I ended up using many of the same resources & recipes that I used for cleaning the bathroom - but using them in slightly different ways.

Glass & Mirror Cleaner **
Fill a Spray Bottle 1/3 full with White Vinegar
Fill it the rest of the way with Water.
Wipe with Microfiber Towel for best anti-streaking results.

This can be used anywhere you USUALLY use Glass cleaner in the kitchen - Chrome appliances, Faucet handles, Mirrors, Windows, etc.

In addition, I often use this to clean my indoor electric grill after it has cooled. (Cleaning it when hot with a wet paper towel folded several times when hot is very effective, but also a very good way to burn fingers). I spray the cooled grill with the Glass Cleaner & allow it to sit several minutes, then wipe with a paper towel, repeating as necessary.

Just a note on this- if I ever buy ANOTHER electric grill, I plan to get one with removable & submersible plates. The infomercials make it look so FUN to clean these things, but it's not! 'nuf said!

All-Purpose Cleaner
Fill a Spray Bottle 1/2 full with White Vinegar
Fill it the rest of the way with Water
Add a Squirt of EITHER Dish Detergent or Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap* (about 1/4 teaspoon)

Simply Spray on, and wipe off. This stuff works great!

I use this for cleaning the following: Counters, Stovetop, Inside & Outside of Microwave, Inside & Outside of Refrigerator, Outside of Appliances, Tabletops, Kid's Table, Trash Can. I have even Sprayed & Wiped the floor with this (with a Microfiber type Floor Mop like this One).

A Note on Vinegar & Odor: A lot of people hesitate to clean with vinegar because they don't like the scent of vinegar. But vinegar actually deodorizes! It often reacts with odor-causers and neutralizes them. Then, when it dries, vinegar leaves no odor of its own. In fact, many household tips suggest putting bowls of vinegar around the house to get rid of unpleasant odors - like cigarette odors.

Floor of the Oven
This was my Mom's Old Trick
Cover the Floor of the Oven with Table Salt
When drips happen, they bake into the salt, and can just be swept up (you can even put the salt down after a drip happens, and usually it will absorb it the next time you bake)
Then, from time to time, I just use a whisk broom to sweep out the bottom of the oven, and clean it with my All purpose Cleaner & a little scrubber-pad.
I had an Oven Repair Man tell me some years ago that using the self-cleaning feature on your oven greatly shortens its life. That, to me, is the ultimate in both anti-environmentalism & anti-frugality. I don't need to be able to eat off the floor of my oven, but I do need it clean enough not to smoke when I cook ; )

Stainless Steel Sink
When I was a teenager, my Home-Ec teacher (who was wonderful) said that we should always wipe out our sink after every meal with the dish cloth. Well - I like the idea of a clean sink. BUT, I have more recently read that the inside of the average kitchen sink is germier than the toilet seat (just google it)! I don't exactly want to wash it out with my dishcloth - then wash dishes with the same cloth. And, Stainless sinks can be a little tricky. My favorite cleaner for the kitchen sink (drumroll, please) is a Blue-and-White "Eraser" type sponge - such as Magic Eraser. I cut it in quarters, and find it quite easy to wipe down the sink whenever the mood strikes me with the little Eraser. If it starts to look grubby, or wears down - I toss it. These Erasers have SOME risk around children - mainly if they ingest & choke on them or rub them on their faces - but I think of them as much safer than a scouring powder or spray that might be ingested. In the event your sink is greasy (like if you rubbed it with a raw avocado, or prepared a pork roast in it - but if your kitchen sink gets greasy very often, expect to call a plumber soon.), a dash of dishwashing detergent used WITH the eraser might be indicated.

If there's someone you need to impress with how clean the sink is, polish it dry inside with a soft dishtowel ; )

My Second favorite Stainless Steel Sink cleaner - if you're not a fan of the "Eraser"- is some Baking Soda kept in a little shaker (like an old spice jar with a sprinkle top, or a sugar-and-cinnamon bottle repurposed), and sprinkled in the sink, scrubbed, and rinsed.

Some of these ideas were adapted from The New Good Life by John Robbins

I like to keep a spray bottle with any spray bottle formulations in EACH room in which they are used. Professional cleaners do this, and it really helps encourage that impulse-cleaning when you see a dirty spot - without making a huge job of hauling out the cleaning supplies. ( see The House that Cleans Itself for great tips of this sort - I think it's where I first found this idea)

All of these cleaners are reasonably safe around children - but even pure water requires caution with kids around - so do be careful. But these are all things I feel comfortable having my young daughter "help" me clean with. And, they're all easy to make - from grocery ingredients : ) Just get a couple of spray bottles, a microfiber towel, a Magical type "Eraser" and you're ready to go!

Just a disclaimer here: These are the cleaners that work for ME. I'm not a scientist with a lab & huge budget. I can't guarantee that they won't harm any surface on the planet. I am not AWARE of any potential problems, but my knowledge is limited like that of all humans. Test on a small area before jumping in with both feet. I've been using these for a few years now -and I'm happy with them. And, exercise proper caution when using them around kids.

*The Bronner's Company Recommends NEVER combining their product with vinegar, because they feel it de-saponifies the soap and turns it back to oil. All I can say is that I'm not a chemist, but this formulation works great for me with Bronner's, whether I understand the chemical processes or not. If you prefer (as I sometimes do) a dash of basic Dishwashing Liquid (such as Joy or a similar product in the store brand) will work great here, with none of the drawbacks.

** An off-label use for the Glass Cleaner: This is NOT manufacturer recommended, but it has worked great for me. We do not have a TV, and we frequently get kids' DVDs from the library. MANY of these will not play in our machine. WHY? Because some little kid has apparently handled them with fingers that could only have been coated in something like frosting. I spray my Microfiber cloth (NOT THE DVD!) with my homemade Glass Cleaner, and wipe the playing surface of the DVD in a small circular motion, working my way around the bigger circle of the DVD. Then I buff dry with a dry portion of the cloth, and allow to air dry more before inserting in machine. This method has never failed me - but use at your own risk.

If you found this article helpful, you might also like my article on

Bathroom Cleaners 

This post was featured at:

Frugal Friday Fiesta

This is being shared at:
Making Your Home Sing Monday
Motivation Monday
Clever Chicks
Modest Monday
In & Out of the Kitchen
Teach Me Tuesday 
Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural
Cottage Link Up
Wonderful Wednesday
Wise Woman
Penny Pinching Party
Real Food, Allergy Free 
Inspire Us Thursday
Fabulously Frugal Thursday
Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways
Simple Lives Thursday 
Frugal Friday Fiesta
Home Acre Hop
Healthy Vegan Friday


  1. Lovely!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Blessings :-)

  2. It's really scary to think about what is in standard cleaners. I'll definitely be trying these. Thanks for linking to the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party. Hope to see you next week.

    1. Thanks so much! I always hated the idea of spraying some dreadful poison right next to the food - this feels so much better! I appreciate you hosting - and all your kind comments : )

  3. This is a great post. I prefer to make my own cleaners, laundry soap, and dishwasher detergents instead of buying chemical filled ones at the store.

    Thanks for linking up to Healthy Vegan Fridays!

  4. Hi Anna,
    I love hearing about your personal experiences with homemade cleaners. I also keep vinegar, lemons and baking soda handy in my kitchen at all times for whatever needs to be cleaned. It's amazing how versatile vinegar is! Thank you so much for sharing these valuable natural cleaning tips with us at the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Blog Hop! I sincerely appreciate it!
    All the best, Deb

  5. Thank you for sharing what homemade cleaners you use at the HomeAcre Hop!

  6. That is a really interesting idea regarding using salt on the floor of the oven. This would be great for easily keeping your oven clean.

    Another thing, next time you pull out the scrubber-pad, try putting a little 'astonish oven and cookware cleaner' paste on it. I know you will be surprised how well it works!

  7. I have been cleaning ovens for a number of years but I have never actually tried out the table salt on the floor of the oven. It's one of those things I have seen people mention but never tried it myself. Maybe this weekend!

    What you say about self-clean ovens, that is certainly correct. They do indeed have a greatly shortened life, in most cases.

    Neil | Oven Cleaner in Sheffield


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