By Jennifer Armentrout
You no doubt put a lot of care (and money) into making sure that the food you prepare for yourself and your family is free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. But when it comes to cleaning your kitchen, do you put the same kind of thought into the products you use? After all, most cleaning products are chock full of unpronounceable chemical compounds that you may be absorbing through your skin and lungs.
To learn a cleaner approach to cleaning, we asked eco-friendly lifestyle expert Danny Seo—host of “Naturally, Danny Seo” on NBC and creator of Naturally, Danny Seo magazine—for his top tips. The good news? Danny’s suggestions are all straightforward and simple. And better still, his preferred natural cleaning products—baking soda and vinegar—are far less expensive than their chemical counterparts. Read on to get Danny’s tips, and see which eco-friendly products we also recommend.
COOK UP YOUR OWN NATURAL CLEANSER
“I think the #1 concern people have about all-natural cleaning products isn’t if they can get something clean, but if they can disinfect things properly,” says Danny. “The reality is, kitchens are places that can harbor illness-causing bacteria. And while bleach can disinfect, it can also be a major irritant for your eyes, lungs and skin.”
To clean his kitchen, Danny uses 1 cup of white vinegar in a spray bottle and adds 25 drops of tea tree oil for a natural disinfectant, de-greaser, and deodorizer all in one. “I spray it liberally on countertops and cutting boards, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe it down with a microfiber towel for truly clean results.”
GREEN CLEAN YOUR DISHWASHER & OVEN
Dishwashers conserve water and are a greener approach to washing dishes than doing it by hand. But the dishwasher needs to be cleaned, too, notes Danny. To do this, generously sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the empty dishwasher. Then place a cup of white vinegar in the top rack and run the dishwasher empty on its hottest cycle. And don’t forget to clean out the filter in the bottom of the machine where food debris collects.
To clean your oven, Danny recommends making a thick paste of water and baking soda to cover the whole inside of the oven. Let that sit for at least 12 hours, then spray the inside of the oven with white vinegar; it’ll cause the baking soda to bubble and foam up. Wipe away with a damp sponge and your oven will be sparkling clean.
CHOOSE REUSABLE TOOLS
“I use two types of cleaning tools: all-natural sponges and microfiber towels. Microfiber towels are great because they’re reusable and their tightly knit fibers grip onto dirt and germs. And the sponges do a fantastic job of scrubbing away tough stains and baked-on messes,” says Danny. To disinfect them, he runs them under warm water (with a little soap), wrings them out, and then microwaves them on high power for about 60 seconds.
STEAM-CLEAN THE FLOOR
Danny has a two-step process for floors: He uses a good vacuum with a HEPA filter to pick up crumbs and dust. “Mine’s a Dyson, but there are plenty of good brands out there—just make sure it has a filter; nothing’s worse than vacuuming and having all the allergens just blow back into the air,” says Danny. To clean, he likes the Hoover steam mop, which sanitizes and easily gets up what’s left of the dust, dirt, and scuff marks. “You just fill it with tap water and steam comes right out through the microfiber head. No dirty mop, no bucket…”
GET THOSE DUST BUNNIES TO HOP OUT
Because many modern homes are super energy efficient, volatile organic compounds can stay trapped inside. When the weather’s warm, Danny recommends flushing them out by opening a window in the front of the house and one in the back (or a few if you live in a large home). Then place fans at the windows blowing the air out of the house.
YOUR SHOES ARE MADE JUST FOR WALKING
Dirt, chemicals, pesticides and even pet fecal matter can be tracked into your home on the bottom of your shoes and spread around the house. “I keep a tray by the door lined with newspaper where I leave my shoes as soon as I walk in the door. Newsprint is designed to absorb ink, so it’ll absorb all the nasty things on the bottoms of my shoes, too,” says Danny.
ECO-FRIENDLY CLEANING PRODUCTS WE LOVE
If you’d rather buy some green cleaning products rather than make your own, here are a few we use to keep our counters, cutting boards and other surfaces clean: