Of all the rooms in my house, the kitchen has to be cleaned the most often. It’s often difficult to clean because of the variety of surfaces and appliances, yet the most important to clean well because these surfaces come into contact with our food (and vice versa).
It is also a place where harmful chemical products often lurk, in an area of the house where using non-toxic products perhaps matters most. I’ll share my best tips for cleaning the kitchen naturally, and please share yours in the comments!
At my house, our cabinets get food, fingerprints, and artistic doodles from my aspiring Picassos. This can be a pain to clean! I no longer use microfiber, but a clean rag and diluted all-purpose cleaner (either homemade or from Branch Basics) does the job well.
Quick Tip: Cut up old t-shirts and towels rather than buying rags or sponges.
Counters and Table
I use the same all-purpose cleaner on my table and countertops for simplicity. (I minimized my cleaning cabinet to one or two cleaners and will never go back!) I’ve used it on granite and formica and it doesn’t leave residue.
I would not recommend specific granite cleaning sprays, as these are some of the worst offenders in the chemical department.
Do not use vinegar/lemon or anything acidic on granite as this can erode the finish and wear down the stone. You can also use a homemade alcohol-based granite cleaner for tough messes and great shine, but I wouldn’t use it every day.
The type of cleaning will vary depending on the type of floor, but any floor can be cleaned naturally.
- For laminate, ceramic, etc., a mixture of 1 cup vinegar in a gallon of water on a wet mop will clean really well.
- You can use your all-purpose cleaner to pre-treat any tough stains.
- For tile and grout, I sprinkle with baking soda and then spray with hydrogen peroxide and leave for a few minutes before scrubbing and then wiping off. This is the only way I’ve found to keep grout white.
- There are also other options for carpet and hardwood.
For natural dish soap, I’ve used a variety of products over the years. My homemade dish soap is a very simple DIY recipe using Sal Suds as the base, but these days we usually use a few drops of… you guessed it… Branch Basics concentrate!
I’m in the process of testing automatic dishwasher detergents as my favorite brand isn’t in production anymore, but Ecover is a solid natural choice that works great for us. You can also make your own dishwasher detergent from scratch!
Quick Tip: To clean the dishwasher itself, I put a bowl or two on the top shelf of the dishwasher right side up and fill it with undiluted white vinegar. Then just run the dishwasher as usual (no other dishes in it). This removes soap scum and makes the dishwasher run more efficiently.
This is on my once-a-month to-do list, along with deep cleaning the washing machine.
I have a self-cleaning oven but don’t like to use that feature, unless it is an especially cold day in winter, because it heats the house up a lot. The easiest way I’ve found besides using the self-clean is to spray water over the bottom of the oven and dump on a lot of baking soda (about 1/4-1/2 inch I think) and then spray with more water to make a paste. Then, I leave it overnight.
In the morning, I scrape out all the baking soda mixture (which is brown by this point) and then use a wire brush to scrub any tough spots. After all the baking soda has been wiped off, a vinegar and water rinse will leave a spot-free shine.
I use my garbage disposal a lot and sometimes it gets that not-so-lovely odor. To combat this, there are a couple of options:
- Cut a lemon in half, shove in garbage disposal, and grind (with hot water running) for 10 seconds.
- Freeze lemon and orange peels in ice cube trays with vinegar or water and throw these in and grind for 10 seconds.
- Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda in the drain and follow with 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes before running the water and the disposal.
- If you want a storebought product, Biokleen makes a great enzyme-based drain cleaner.
This won’t be in everyone’s kitchen, but we use cast iron a lot. I try not to use soap on cast iron since it ruins the seasoning that takes so long to accomplish. Instead, I use a steel scouring pad and some regular salt, and scrub. This usually gets them clean without any trouble!
We’ve finally transitioned to paper-free in our kitchen, and I won’t ever go back! We actually bought several hundred cloth napkins for our wedding years ago, and we still use those, though if I ever replace them, I’ll replace them with a darker color to hide the stains they have now. A couple of dozen cloth napkins will last a family between washes and will save a lot of money and waste in the long run.
We also use extra dish towels instead of paper towels and just replace them every six months to a year, which is still cheaper than buying paper towels.
The way I wash produce largely depends on where it came from and what it is. We buy (or grow) organic produce for the biggest offenders, but most conventional fruits and vegetables will do if we wash them properly.
- For stuff from our garden, it gets a light wash in water before use. I know exactly where it came from so no need for worry!
- For store-bought produce with tough skin, I soak in vinegar for about 10 minutes, and then lightly scrub with my hands after I’ve dipped them in baking soda. I do this before placing them in the fridge so that the chemicals don’t transfer to the fridge and so the kids can get their own fruits and veggies for snacks.
- I’ve also tried hydrogen peroxide and water spray on softer skin fruits and veggies like peaches or grapes or berries.
Here’s my full post on how I wash my fruits and veggies.
Under My Sink
Like I said, I keep it simple with kitchen cleaning these days! Although this list seems short, I’ve yet to find a mess I can’t tackle with this regimen!
Under my sink, you’ll find:
- bottles of white vinegar
- hydrogen peroxide
- Dr. Bronners
- Sal Suds
- baking soda
- Branch Basics concentrate (I use it to make bottles of bathroom, glass, and all-purpose cleaning spray)
- assorted cloths and scrubbing brushes
- rubbing alcohol for the occasional batch of sanitizing spray
On a related note, I keep everything under my sink in a boot tray that typically goes by the backdoor so that I can remove them all at once to clean under the sink.
Kitchen Cleaning Checklist
Bottom line, let’s take the chemicals to a hazardous waste disposal place and stop using them!
I’ve found this checklist from Real Simple helpful to clean the kitchen from the top down. You can also download my personal organizing printable that has my chore lists, room-by-room checklists, and daily to-do lists to help make the process easier.
If you want an even deeper look into my cleaning cabinet and the baby steps I took toward a natural home over the years, I write all about it in my The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox Book.
What is your best kitchen cleaning tip? Do you have any suggestions for natural kitchen cleaning that I missed? Share below!