We all want to be able to do a little bit more when it comes to looking after the environment. And what better way to start than with the room we spend the most time in at home – The kitchen.
As we research more eco-friendly practices and the small changes we can make, we find that there are more and more kitchen products that are plastic free and reusable as well as being better for the environment and being chemical free.
Spraying aerosol chemicals into the air is not good for the environment. Or for the members of your household. Cleaning products also often contain harsh chemicals, and then in some cases, these chemicals are washed down the waterways.
There are many cleaning products that are available to purchase that are natural and chemical-free. However, you may find that there are some eco-friendly kitchen hacks that are chemical-free, which you can do already.
Using common household ingredients you can find at the supermarket, here are some chemical-free kitchen hacks.
Make Your Own All-Purpose Cleaner
A staple in the kitchen for wiping down surfaces, multiple times a day.
Using a glass spray bottle, fill half of the bottle with white vinegar and the other half with water. And that is it! Vinegar is a great natural cleaner as it cuts through grime and is a disinfectant. However, the smell is not something that everyone enjoys. Why not add fresh rosemary sprigs and lemon rind/peel in the glass bottle before adding the liquid. Shake it a little to combine the vinegar and water and then let it sit for a day to get the scent to infuse from the rosemary and lemon rind/peel. Do not discard the lemon insides after you have used the peel, as you can use these for other eco-friendly kitchen hacks.
Substitute lemon for orange if you prefer and avoid extra parts of the fruit going into the mix to avoid sticky juice in the cleaning solution.
Deep Clean Your Microwave
No matter how hard we try, we cannot avoid splatter occurring when we use the microwave. From reheating food to the grease on the outside of the microwave popcorn bag, grime builds up, making it harder to just wipe over.
Slice the remaining part of the lemon so most of the fruit area is visible. In a glass bowl, place the lemon slices at the bottom and then cover with water. Place the bowl in the microwave and put the timer on for three minutes. This loosens the grime on all interior surfaces of the microwave, making it easier to wipe out – with your own homemade all-purpose cleaner of course.
Cleaning Wooden Chopping Boards and Cheese Boards
Keep going with those lemons to make your wooden chopping boards or cheese platters new again.
Soap, no matter how eco-friendly, is not an option. Nor is submerging a wooden board in water or placing it in a dishwasher. When you have a wooden board it is advisable not to use them to cut meat, chicken, or fish, as the indents in the wooden board can keep hold of bacteria that cannot be reached to clean safely. However, even if these boards are only used for bread, fruit, vegetables, and cheese, the food grime still builds up.
To make them look like new again and remove all food traces, sprinkle the surface with salt and then rub a lemon over the surface, massaging the salt over the board. It will form a paste which you can then rinse off and let air dry.
Removing Hard to Clean Spots on Benchtops
Used coffee grounds are often a forgotten item in your kitchen that can be used in a chemical-free kitchen hack. But even after use, coffee grounds still have a natural abrasion that can be very handy.
We often find ourselves reaching for a hard scrubbing brush or cloth or abrasive cleaner when we find those hard to remove spots such as sticky sauces or cake batter. This can lead to scratched surfaces or purchasing cleaning materials that will not break down in landfill.
Using used coffee grounds, place these over the stubborn spot on your benchtop, and using a soft, dry cloth, massage the grounds over it in a circular motion. Once you have loosened the grime, use your all-purpose cleaner with another cloth to finish the cleaning.
Even if you have a pod machine, you can still use the grounds. Store bought aluminum pods can be cut open to remove the coffee, or invest in reusable pods, which you can fill yourself – and then use the grounds for cleaning. Used grounds do not keep longer than a day or two so remember that coffee also makes a great base for a face and body scrub too!
Rescue Burnt Cookware
Burnt pans can be salvaged back from ruin with this handy hack.
Whether you have actually burnt something or your cookware needs a deep clean, make sure you give this chemical-free kitchen hack a go before giving up.
Cover the burnt areas of the saucepan or frypan with baking soda. Make sure you do not see any of the ruined surfaces. Then place 1 cup of vinegar over the baking soda (or more or less if required. You only need to cover the baking soda). Add 1 cup of water and then bring all of it to a boil. Sit back and watch the water change colour as the burnt food or grime comes to the surface. When you think all is done, let the pot cool and then give it a hot water rinse before washing with your regular dishes by hand or the dishwasher and it will sparkle like new. And don’t forget, because you are not using chemicals, you can repeat the process again and again.
Get Your Kitchen Sink Sparkling Again
To add a little sparkle back to your kitchen sink, there is no need to scrub with a stainless steel kitchen cleaner. Clean your stainless steel sink chemical-free by buffing out faded spots and marks with regular household flour.
Clean your kitchen sink with the chemical-free all-purpose cleaner that you already made. Dry it off with a clean, dry cloth, and then sprinkle flour throughout the sink. Next, use a different dry cloth, and buff the area in a circular motion, making sure the flour stays on the mark. Remove excess flour, and then clean again with your all-purpose cleaner.
Remove Kitchen Odors
There are many different types of places that odor can occur in the kitchen as well as many different types. Try these eco-friendly kitchen hacks to make your kitchen smell fresh again.
- Even if you are very savvy and eco-friendly about composting and recycling your food scraps, you will still likely get odors in those bins. Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of each can after removing the waste and leave it in whether you have a bag in there or not.
- To freshen the air, make your own air freshener. Using a 250ml glass spray bottle, fill three quarters with water, add 2 tablespoons of vodka and several drops of your favourite essential oils. The best ones to choose for neutralising smells are lemon, orange, or lavender.
- If you have deep-fried or cooked something with quite a strong smell, use your stove again for a diffuser-style odor remover. With a clean saucepan, bring to the boil lemon slices, orange slices, and mint sprig, with the lid off. Just keep an eye on the water levels if you choose to leave it a bit longer.
- A small dish of baking soda is perfect to keep in the back of the fridge to eliminate fridge odors
While these eco-friendly kitchen hacks are chemical-free there are still some considerations as well as some extra handy hints to consider.
- While the ingredients that are used can be purchased at a supermarket, look into bulk buy options for salt, flour, and baking soda. Not only will you save money, but will reduce less waste by having less packaging.
- Use clean but old cotton shirts for cleaning clothes. Those items that are too worn for donating but cannot be placed into landfill are perfect to be cut up for soft cleaning cloths and then they can be washed in the washing machine afterward.
- Always use pure essential oils so you know you aren’t adding artificial fragrances or synthetic additives to your natural, chemical-free cleaner.
- Even though you are making your own cleaning products, you still need to be mindful of the type of surface you are cleaning. Even natural ingredients can react to certain surfaces, so make sure you try on a small test surface first.
- When mixing at home cleaners especially if you are using essential oils, make sure you use glass spray bottles or storage containers that are made from food-grade plastic only. Certain types of plastics break down with acidic oils if the plastic is not suitable for food.