You may not realize it but many of the ingredients you use to cook with actually make great cleaners—inexpensive, non-toxic, all-natural cleaners. This makes them a great alternative to typical cleaning products: solvents and powders with harsh fumes and dangerous chemicals, bearing labels that caution you not to touch or ingest them. While some cleaning manufacturers are not even obligated to list all the ingredients in their products, you’ll always know what’s coming out of your pantry. Check out these surprising uses for certain household staples, and avoid the harmful elements of traditional cleaners in favor of these completely safe, effective methods.
Fresh lemon juice is great for breaking up tough stains and removing odor, mildew, and grease. But the most useful place to apply lemon’s powers might be your cutting board, which, despite how often you may wipe it down, easily retains remnants from recipes past. Simply sprinkle the cutting board with coarse salt and scrub the surface with a halved lemon (pulp side down, of course), squeezing the lemon slightly to release some of its juice as you go. When you’ve covered the surface, let everything sit for five minutes, then scrape off the dirty liquid before giving the board a final rinse with a wet sponge.
(Image: The Kitchn)
White vinegar isn’t just for baking and pickling—you can use it to clean your carpet, windows, and showerheads that have corrosion or chemical buildup. To really see what vinegar can do, put some in a spray bottle, grab some baking soda, and use a little elbow grease to thoroughly and naturally clean your oven.
Tea—especially black tea—contains tannins, bitter-tasting compounds that, as it turns out, can enhance the color and shine of wood furniture and flooring. Simply dip a soft cloth in brewed black tea, wring out its excess liquid, and wipe it normally across your wood floor. To cover more surface area at once, boil six cups of tea and use a mop to spread it across the floor. Clean the surface normally then let it air dry.
4. Club soda
“Stainless” steel? Let’s pump the brakes. These appliances are still fallible, and can easily get covered in unsightly streaks. But here’s the good news: You can use ordinary old club soda to remove streaks from stainless steel cookware and fixtures, from countertops to sinks. Just buff those scuffs with a soda-dampened cloth, then wipe dry. You can use the same method for porcelain surfaces, or add a little bit of salt to your club soda for a mixture that’s perfect for cleaning the fridge. And of course, carbonated water is a tried-and-true way to remove wet stains from clothes, as seen above.
Ever try to clean a cast-iron skillet? It’s tricky. You have to avoid many of the common go-to’s of cleaning, like using soap, soaking the pan in water, or putting it in the dishwasher. What does work, though, is scrubbing the pan with kosher salt and water until those stubborn bits of food come off. As a finishing touch, buff with a little bit of vegetable oil.
6. Vegetable Oil
(Image: Apartment Therapy)
Speaking of which—vegetable oil is also a great way to get rid of grease stains. It might feel counterintuitive (or even downright foolish) to remove grease by adding more of it, but go with us on this one. Put some vegetable oil on a paper towel, scrub your stovetop, and watch the stains disappear.
What other all-natural cleaners can you find in your kitchen? Let us know any of your homemade tricks and tips in the comments below!