Recent studies show that modern commercial household cleaners are causing serious health issues for individuals and their families. The Country Almanac of Housekeeping Techniques That Save You Money (Fair Winds Press, 2012) by Richard Freudenberger and the editors of Back Home Magazine shows you how to keep a clean and healthy home for just pennies a day, using a collection of formula for effective cleaning, gardening, and home maintenance. Don’t just clean your household, get the longest life out of every item. The following excerpt describes how to clean household appliances with baking soda and vinegar.
About $1 to $5.50 per treatment, depending on the appliance
Natural and nontoxic, chemical-free cleaning
Heat, steam, cooking odors, and perishable foods are bound to leave their mark on the kitchen, and especially on appliances. These tips for cleaning appliances will help your wallet and the environment.
Stovetops and Ovens Naturally
Range burner pans and stovetops are often the victims of spills and boilovers. It’s usually not practical to deal with such messes right away, but as soon as possible, wipe up the spill with a damp sponge dipped in baking soda. For sauces and oily spills, using sprinkled cornstarch in lieu of baking soda works well because of the absorbent qualities of cornstarch. The soiled paste can be wiped away easily once it has soaked up the spill.
Clean oven racks and drip pans outside the appliance, in the sink or a large tub. Baking soda and table salt, along with soap and water, work well on enameled pieces; the racks may need a steel pad if they are particularly soiled. Clean the oven interior with a layer of baking soda powder moistened with a water spray. Leave the paste on these surfaces for 8 hours or more, then wipe away with a moist cloth, using a plastic scraper if needed. Rinse thoroughly before using the oven. For stubborn stains, blend a mixture of 1 part borax with 2 parts baking soda—the alkalinity will help lift soil.
Toaster Ovens and Toasters Naturally
These small appliances have more exposed circuitry than other types of kitchen equipment, so it’s important they not be doused with liquid when cleaning. Always unplug your toaster before cleaning it. With oven-style toasters, remove the racks and steel pan(s) and clean them in the sink using soap and water. For more stubborn stains, sprinkle baking soda on a cleaning sponge. There may be a cleanout door at the bottom, which you can open over the sink to remove crumbs. With conventional toasters, turn the apparatus upside down and shake out the debris. Clean the outside of the cabinet with soap and water, or for tougher stains, mix 1 part white distilled vinegar with 1 part water.
The glass door on the oven will shine up with vinegar as well.
A large part of effective refrigerator operation is in removing moisture, which aids in efficient cooling. In order to remove moisture, air must circulate through the interior, which provides a perfect opportunity for the odors of stale and spoiled foods to permeate the chamber. It is easiest to clean a refrigerator when there’s no food in it, so you should have a cooler ready to hold the contents while you’re cleaning. Cleaning doesn’t take much—a sponge and 1 gallon (about 3.8 L) of warm soapy water with 1 cup (about 220 g) of baking soda will do the trick. (If there are any aluminum parts inside, forgo the baking soda or the metal may pit. Also avoid soaking interior lighting fixtures and controls.)
Use this formula for the entire refrigerator interior, including shelves and bins. The same soap and water can be used on the outside cabinet and the handle. Sticky handles will come clean with a white vinegar/water solution.
Store-bought products marketed to clean coffeemakers are generally acidic and toxic if ingested. The same goes for the bathroom rust and lime removers labeled for use as coffeepot cleaners. In most cases, straight white vinegar does an excellent job of removing scale and stains from the internal surfaces and parts of coffeemakers; the only requirement is that it be given time to work, generally a few hours. Percolators and automatic drip machines can be run through a cycle with white vinegar to clean them. Try using a bottle brush to scrub stubborn stains. Rinse with water after cleaning.
Most problems with automatic dishwashers occur from residual odors. The easiest way to resolve this problem is to run an unloaded cycle with 1 cup (about 220 g) of baking soda or borax (no soap). It will freshen the tub and racks and soften the cleaning water so the machine will work more effectively.
Cleaning Microwaves Naturally
Mild soap and water is all you need to clean the outside cabinet of a microwave. Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water to clean the door. Take out the glass or plastic food tray at the bottom and clean it separately in the sink with soap and water. The tougher cleaning problems arise inside, where splattered foods get cooked onto side and top panels. To preclean, place a bowl of water in the microwave and set on high for 3 to 5 minutes, until steam forms. This will loosen up splattered food stains. For tougher spots, use a mild soap and baking soda paste, using a plastic scraper if necessary.
Cleaning Blenders and Food Processors Naturally
The beauty of these small appliances is that they can often be cleaned effectively simply by adding soapy water and turning them on for a few moments. If individual blades or paddles need cleaning, carefully remove them from the tub (if they are removable; in blenders they may not be) and try a vinegar wash followed by water rinse. Allow parts to dry before storing the machine.
More from The Country Almanac of Housekeeping Techniques
Reprinted with permission from The Country Almanac of Housekeeping Techniques That Save You Money: Folk Wisdom for Keeping Your House Clean, Green, and Homey (Fair Winds Press, 2012), by Richard Freudenberger and the Editors of Backhome Magazine.
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