11 October 2008

"Green" Clean in the Kitchen

In my on-going effort to have fewer toxic substances in our household, I've experimented with several different dish soaps and cleaning options. Here's my current line-up:

--Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap with the yummy peppermint smell. I really like this as a mild soap for cleaning just about everything. It's a little spendy for dishwashing though at $9/bottle at my local grocery store. Plus, I think we use it too quickly--it squirts out easily. I'm trying to fade it's use in the dishwashing arena, but I do really love it. I just discovered that I can refill my bottle at the local New Seasons but I haven't tried it yet so I don't know how much it would cost. One note, if you haven't used natural soaps before, don't be surprised that they don't bubble much.

--J.R. Watkin's Natural Home Care Aloe and Green Tea dish soap is my newest addition. I haven't used enough of it yet to have a strong opinion but I like the following things about it: a. it's available at Target, my big-box-store weakness, b. it was reasonably priced, c. it's free of phosphates and sodium laurel sulfate, and d. it has totally killer retro packaging that I am a complete sucker for.

--My home-made "soft scrub" is a mix of Dr. Bronner's castile soap, baking soda, and borax. It's gritty, it smells good and it cleans stuck-on-stuff pretty well. It's handy for scrubbing the bathroom sink too.

--Not pictured is my OXO Steel Soap-Squirting Palm Brush. I love this thing and I use it every time I do dishes. It's especially great if you just want to wash one or two things and don't want to run a whole sink full of soapy water--you can dispense the soap you need straight through the brush. I've gone through several of the old design and just upgraded to the Steel version. I am hopeful I'll like this one even better since I can buy replacement brushes instead of throwing the whole thing out when it gets gnarly.

--Last but not least, this is my only super handy kitchen cleaning tip (I am NO domestic goddess!): If you want to scrub up metal--especially the copper bottoms of your cooking pots--this is the best nontoxic way. Cut a lemon in half. Sprinkle salt on the surface you want to clean. Use the lemon half and the salt to scrub away at the copper. Something about the acids from the lemon combined with the grit of the salt makes it all work wonderfully. Plus you don't have to feel any guilt rinsing it off in the sink--no nasty chemicals going into the Willamette River, thank you very much!

So, that's what I'm using right now. I'm curious to hear what environmentally-friendly kitchen products you are using so please post a comment!


Stephanie Breuner said...

I love Bac-out by Bio-o-kleen. It is an enzymatic cleaner in concentrated liquid form. The main ingredient is food grade limes. I put a couple ounces in spray bottles in each bathroom and under the kitchen sink and use it for all purpose cleaning, windows and mirrors, sanitizing sinks, toilet bowls, highchair trays and cleaning my laminate floors and I use it full strength on carpet stains. It dissolves dirt and removes odors. I also love that it is a local company (Vancouver, WA). The company is easy to reach by phone and they can give you even more ideas for uses. One caveat-don't use hot water- it kills the enzymes that do the cleaning. You can buy it at Whole Foods and in Fred Meyer's natural foods department. Bi-o-kleen also has some other interesting products using soy. They have a soy lubricant that is a Wd-40 alternative that does not use petroleum. Their laundry detergent works great too.

Anonymous said...

Lemon juice from one the the green bottles works with salt to clean copper. I rarely have the fruit lemon on hand. I use a salt shaker to shake salt on the bottm of the pan and then pour the lemon juice over it and scrub.