Green Spring Cleaning Part III: The Kitchen

Room by room, the Eco Women will help you spring clean your house in the most environmentally friendly way possible.  Today’s stop:  the kitchen!

Time needed: 2-3 hours

Supplies needed: 1 large box, 1 old towel cut into rags,  white vinegar ($1.00 for a large bottle), hot water, baking soda (.70 a box), vacuum cleaner with attachments.

Step 1: Scrub your kitchen sink and faucets with baking soda and a damp rag.  Rinse out your sink with water.

Step 2: Turn your oven on the “self-cleaning” cycle and let that start.

Step 3: Fill your sink with hot water and once cup of vinegar.  Using this concoction and one of your towel rags, wipe down the exterior of every single cabinet, counter top, baseboard and appliance in your kitchen.  Vinegar will cut through grease, leaving things shiny without any residue.   It’s safe to use on wood, linoleum, vinyl, ceramic and metal.  The smell fades as soon as it dries, so if you’re sensitive to the smell, use a second rag to dry as you clean.

Step 4: Empty every single cupboard and drawer.  Using your vacuum, suck out all the crumbs, dust bunnies and dried noodle bits.  Using a fresh sink full of hot water and another cup of vinegar as your cleaning solution, wipe down the interior of every drawer, wipe down each shelf, and the insides of every cupboard drawer.  (Enviro Girl generally makes her kids empty out the cupboards, pantry and drawers for her.)  When you replace things in your cupboards and drawers, toss the utensils and dishes you never use into the large box.  You don’t need duplicates of most utensils and if you’ve yet to use your garlic press, now’s a good time to give it to a good home via your local thrift shop (which is where you’ll take that large box later).  This is also a great time to toss any expired foodstuffs.

Step 5: Empty your fridge.  Enviro Girl puts everything on newspaper she’s spread over the floor.  Once emptied, vacuum out the chunks and crumbs and start wiping down the door, shelves and drawers with another clean rag and fresh sink full of hot water and vinegar.  Repeat this entire process with your freezer. Vacuum the coils behind the fridge so your fridge use less energy and run more efficiently.

Step 6: Clean  your coffee maker by running equal parts vinegar and water through the machine.  Rinse by running water through the machine 2-3 more times as needed.

Step 7: Run your dishwasher empty with a cup of vinegar in the soap dispenser.  After the cycle finishes, use a rag and vinegar-water to wipe down the edges of the door where gunk tends to accumulate.

Step 8: Microwave a couple cups of water for 3 minutes before wiping down the inside walls with more vinegar-water solution.

Step 9: Wipe down your oven once it’s finished self-cleaning.  Use vinegar and water to scrub any vents or trays.  Enviro Girl recently learned that by taking out the drawer beneath her stove, she can vacuum and wipe down the floor beneath her oven.

Step 10: Haul the large box of castoffs to the thrift shop.  Toss the rags on the laundry pile or on your compost pile.

A fresh and clean kitchen takes some time, but it does not require heavy chemicals that harm the air and water.   By weeding through your pantry and cupboards once a year, you’ll make your space less cluttered and more efficient.  If you want to take Enviro Girl’s SUPER Eco Kitchen Challenge, each time there’s a food drive, donate any and every unopened can or box in your pantry.  By doing this, Enviro Girl has cleared out a lot of space and finds she wastes less food to expiration dates and unrealistic menu planning.  By keeping on top of her pantry’s inventory, she keeps food fresher and throws out less.

Don’t let anyone fool you, green cleaning your kitchen doesn’t have to cost much and if you can rope in help from your family, you can scrub every nook and cranny in a couple of hours.

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