Tag Archives: cleaning supplies


Microwave ovens have become a kitchen essential for many, if not most, households. Problem is, once we shut the microwave door, it’s easy to forget about the spilled or splattered food accumulating on its interior….until the next time we go to use it. By that time, it’s hardened into a stubborn residue.

Good news: there’s no need for scrubbing or harsh chemicals to get your microwave sparkling clean and smelling fresh. Try one of these three simple, low-cost techniques, depending on what you have on hand:

Close-up of lemons in a wicker basket on white1. Squeeze the juice of a whole lemon into a cup of water in a microwave safe bowl. Heat the mixture in the microwave for three minutes. Careful—it will be hot! Remove the bowl with mitts and set aside. Wipe down the steamed residue from the interior of the oven with damp paper towels.

2. Follow the same directions above, using vinegar in place of lemon juice. After the vinegar solution cools, you can dip a sponge into it and wipe down the microwave interior again, which will neutralize odors. (For added value, after you clean your microwave, shake a dollop of baking soda into your kitchen sink, followed by the vinegar solution. Wipe down and rinse. Your sink will sparkle from the mild scrubbing and foaming action, and the solution will deodorize the drain).

3. Dissolve a half cup of baking soda in two cups of water in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for two minutes until solution boils, then let cool enough to remove. Dip sponge in baking soda solution (wear gloves as it will be hot) and wipe down interior of microwave.

Stubborn burnt popcorn smell bugging you? After cleaning the oven with one of the above methods, try one of these techniques, depending on your preference for fragrances. Mix a few teaspoons of ground coffee in a ceramic cup of water and place the cup in a bowl. Heat for two minutes. Remove bowl and cup with mitts. Wipe down interior of microwave with damp paper towels. As an alternative, put four teaspoons of vanilla extract in a bowl of water and heat for two minutes. Remove bowl with mitts, and wipe down interior of microwave with damp paper towels.


The little things will do the trick. 111779891

Walk down the cleaning supplies aisle in any grocery store and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the dizzying array of products available for purchase. There are concoctions that disinfect, scrub, polish, cut grease, de-rust, un-streak, and promise gleam and shine.

How to choose the right products without spending a fortune and cramming the cupboards with stuff you don’t need?

I thought I would share a primer for getting savvy with cleaning supplies.

  • Buy a small plastic bin with a handle for each floor of your home. You will fill it with all the supplies you need for cleaning your house, with the exception of your vacuum, and carry it from room to room as you clean. No more wasted steps back and forth as you retrieve the cleaning supplies you need for each room and each chore. Keep the bin in a linen closet or under the master bathroom sink.
  • Search out the circulars for sales and coupons. When you see a product you need, buy two. You can have one for each floor of the house or save one for later.
  • Each of your plastic bins should contain:
    • A plastic spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner for general surface cleaning. This need not be anti-bacterial. In fact, ample evidence points to overuse of antibacterial cleaners as one contributing factor to increasing the strength and number of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. A solution of vinegar and water in a clean spray bottle is inexpensive and when applied with a lint-free cloth will leave mirrors and glass streak-free. Unless a family member is ill with a contagious disease, save antibacterial products for food prep areas and cleaning the toilet.
    • Anti-bacterial wipes or spray cleaner for toilets and food preparation areas only.
    • Gentle non-abrasive cleaner for scrubbing showers and sinks
    • Anti-static dusting cloth and furniture polish. Furniture polish need not be applied with every cleaning. And if you have a central vacuum system, you can use the long hose and variety of attachments to save time with dusting chores, such as baseboards, window sills, blinds, and draperies. Dust suctioned away with a central vacuuming system doesn’t re-circulate back into the air and resettle, as it does with traditional vacuum cleaners, but is pulled into a central collection unit which can then be emptied periodically.
    • Sponge
    • Nylon scrubbing pad for scrubbing jobs
    • Lint-free rags for wiping and dusting. Old cloth diapers are ideal, as are worn cotton tee shirts. A roll of paper towels comes in handy, but go easy on the environment by using paper towels sparingly, and only for the dirtiest jobs.
    • Handful of small plastic garbage bags (small grocery bags are perfect) for collecting small bits of trash and used wipes or paper towels as you go along.

Replenish supplies as needed, and store the bins in the same place all the time when not in use. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much time, energy and frustration you’ll save on routine cleaning with this simple “Cleaning Carry-All” strategy.

People-Friendly, Planet-Friendly Cleaning

green homeUsing extra care when you choose household cleaners is good for you and good for the environment. Know exactly what you are using and follow these guidelines for safe, effective household cleaning.

Avoid Products that Contain these Chemicals:
TNonyl- and octyl-phenols are used to make alkylphenol ethoxylate (APE) detergents and are suspected hormone disrupters. In Europe, these products contain the slightly more expensive but safer alcohol ethoxylates instead.

Know Product Safety Levels
I use only cleaning products displaying an HMIS (Hazardous Materials Information System) and/or NFPA numerical rating listed on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

These ranking systems take into account a product’s hazards regarding health, fire, reactivity and other specific areas, on a scale of 0 to 4 with 4 being severe in each category. Displaying these values is not mandatory and entails a financial commitment for testing on the part of the chemical vendor to provide data above and beyond what is required by law.

Don’t use cleaners that carry a rating higher than a 2. As a guideline:
4 “Danger” = May be fatal with brief exposure. Specialized protective equipment required.
3 “Warning” = Corrosive or toxic. Avoid skin contact or inhalation.
2 “Warning” = May be harmful if inhaled or absorbed.
1 “Caution” = May be irritating.
0 No unusual hazard
When in doubt about the safety of a cleaning product, I contact the manufacturer and ask for the Materials Safety Data sheet (MSDS). Contact information should be on the label. Alternatively, try http:/hpd.nlm.nih.gov/index.htm at the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Look for cleaners that have credible third-party certification.
One example of third party certification is the Green Seal label http://www.greenseal.org. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also lists environmentally preferable product information at http://www.epa.gov/epp/tools/database.htm.

Don’t confuse “clean” with “fragrant”.
Fragrances are sometimes used to mask odors associated with an unsafe ingredient, so don’t be lulled into complacency by that “cinnamon potpourri” or “vanilla bean” scent. Also, some fragrances cause adverse effects in chemically sensitive people. To be on the safe side I use unscented products whenever possible.

Disinfecting isn’t always necessary and sometimes isn’t best practice.
Unnecessary use of disinfectants is similar to unnecessary use of antibiotics, leading to the spread of “superbugs.” I use disinfectants where food is prepared and on surfaces touched by people who are ill. Otherwise, I just use basic cleaning products that are adequate and better for public health in the long run.