Entertaining, especially during the holidays, typically includes eating. Even if you are not cooking an extravagant meal, you are most likely using your kitchen – to prep foods, to chill wine and to chat with guests as you heat up dishes. Therefore, keeping the kitchen clean and smelling fresh — and even seasonal — is crucial this time of year. Learning about green cleaning for kitchens can help you create a festive atmosphere while reducing your environmental and health risks.
Add seasonal scented supplies: Eco-friendly brands, such as Mrs. Meyers Clean Day and method, have formulated limited edition versions of their cleaners in holiday-inspired scents such as gingerbread and Iowa pine (Mrs. Meyers Clean Day), and baked apple and winter oak (method). If you fancy your own natural cleaning recipe for the kitchen, such as vinegar or a baking soda paste, you can add a seasonal scent as an extract or essential oil.
Remove toxins: Especially if you are having children in your home, remove cleaning products with hazardous chemicals from under your sink and within your cabinets, and dispose of them safely. Ingredients in some cleaners, such as formaldehyde, chlorine and propellants in aerosols, can be considered toxic. For information on how to dispose of various chemicals, contact your local government, as most offer at least one hazardous waste collection day annually.
Go natural around little ones: Especially on surfaces which food hits, such as the stove top and table top, you want to steer clear of hazardous cleaners. Actor, author and environmental activist Ed Begley Jr., along with Lab Clean LLC., has created a line of chemical-free green products, available online nationwide, including dish soaps and stove top cleaners made with natural ingredients like mint and citrus. Martha Stewart Clean, a line of cleaning products developed by Martha Stewart and the Hain Celestial Group, is made with 99 percent plant- and mineral-based formulas and safe for use around children and pets. Its green kitchen cleaning products include dish soap and an all-purpose cleaner.
Don’t forget the drain: Your kitchen can smell bad if there is built-up food or grease down your drain. Freshen naturally by pouring one-quarter cup baking soda followed by one-half cup vinegar into the drain and letting it sit in the drain for at least 20 minutes. Then flush with boiling water. Citrus rinds and apple cores also add a fresh scent to the drain. Several eco-friendly drain cleaning products, many of which are made with bacteria-eating enzymes instead of harsh chemicals, also are on the market.
When in doubt about the ingredients of a particular household cleaner – or if you are concerned about a chemical listed in one of your favorites – the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has a Household Products Database of more than 10,000 consumer brands in categories including Inside the Home, Personal Care, Auto Products and Pesticides. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also runs an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program (EPP), which is not an endorsement of products but a list of those that meet federal requirements for environmental safety and friendliness.
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