Every day we are bombarded with advertisements for cleaning products with slick brand names and mysterious chemical ingredients. If you’ve used these branded chemical cleaners, you’re used to the choking feeling of the fumes inviting themselves in your lungs. And what of that charring odor lingering in the air like some post-apocalyptic minefield? Do we really want that in the room where we cook our food and where our kids and pets roam about? Add to that the unparalleled ability of these commercial products to burn a big hole in that pocket of yours.

Below are my best tips for cleaning and disinfecting the kitchen naturally using products that are already available in our cupboards. Not only are these natural cleaning recipes safer to use around children and pets and better for the environment, they're a great deal cheaper as well.

1. Oven

I tend to experiment with a lot of recipes, and my oven occasionally ends up with a sad, grimy, greasy look—with food spattered on the sides and charred spills at the bottom. Commercial oven cleaners can miraculously dissolve even the most stubborn filth within a few minutes. But then, there’s a pretty
good reason for that: they contain highly corrosive ingredients like lye.

A safer alternative

As a safer alternative, you can use a paste of 1/2 cup baking soda and a few tablespoons of water. Spread it all over the dirty surfaces of the oven. After a few hours, simply wipe up the dried paste with a damp cloth and watch the grime come off with it. If the grease is particularly stubborn, it’s best to leave overnight before wiping away.

To take on bad odors

I simply squeeze a couple of lemons into a baking dish filled with 1/4 cup of water and bake it for 30 minutes in the oven.

2. Cooktop

I adore my glass cooktop—how sleek and modern it looks! That is, until it’s filled with baked-on stains! We all know that we should wipe away spilled food items immediately or the acid in them will ruin the cooktop. But, sometimes, it gets too hot to touch, and we put it off for later only to forget all about it. Soon, the cooktop has funny stains mocking us. What then?

To tackle stains

To tackle stains around the edge of the rings, I sprinkle a mixture of salt and baking soda and leave for about 30 minutes before rinsing off. (You may need to get hold of an old toothbrush for the really awkward areas.)

For scratched stainless steel

If your stainless steel cooktop is getting that scratched, dull look, polishing will help repair its appearance. Pour a small amount of baby oil or olive oil on a cloth and rub it all over the cooktop. Leave for a few minutes and then wipe the oil away with a baby wipe.

3. Surface

The worktop where we prepare our food needs to be clean and hygienic. But, in the way is our arch nemesis: Grease! Now, I have to confess—I’m obsessed with disinfecting my kitchen and my home. I often use this recipe that my mom taught me for an antibacterial spray cleaner (takes less than five minutes to prepare). Combine about one cup of alcohol with one cup of water and a tablespoon of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz it on surfaces (works for tile and chrome) and wipe off.

For tough stains

To tackle tough stains, I mix equal amounts of washing powder with baking soda and salt. For the ultimate stains such as tea, curry, pasta sauce and red wine, fill a spray bottle with water and add a small amount of bleach, and watch those stubborn stains come right off.

To clean cabinets

Cabinets and cupboards get a yellowish discoloration from grease building up over time. I wash them with a mixture of 1 part vinegar, 2 parts warm water and 1 tablespoon baking soda.

Shine marble countertops

An easy way to shine a marble countertop is with chalk. Put some crushed chalk powder on a damp cloth and gently rub it all over the surface. Follow it up with a water rinse.

4. Dishwasher

How many of us think about cleaning the dishwasher often? The dishes are getting cleaned, so the dishwasher is getting cleaned as well, right? Sadly, with time, lime deposits can accumulate and reduce the performance of the dishwasher. As with any machinery, a dishwasher works more effectively if it’s
looked after. Always scrape the plates before loading the dishwasher to avoid food waste blocking the filters.

An effective cleaning solution

If you prefer a liquid detergent to powder, take 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup borax and baking soda in 1/4 cup of water and two tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients and store it in a sealed jar. Use 1 tablespoon per load. You'll love the fresh lemon aroma that fills up your kitchen while the concoction is working its magic in your dishwasher. Make it a point to do this once a month.

To prevent buildup

To help keep the dishwasher fresh and clean and prevent buildup of lime-scale, add one cup of white vinegar to an empty hot wash. I usually place half a lemon in the cutlery tray to freshen.

5. Trash cans

It goes without saying that garbage cans need to be emptied regularly to avoid nasty smells. I always put smelly food items straight into the outside trash can to avoid creating smells within the home. Here’s a way to eliminate any lingering unpleasant odors:

Combine 2 parts baking soda, 1 part Epsom Salt, 1/2 part water and add a little bit of lemon or peppermint essential oil. Put the mixture into ice cube trays and press down to form tablets. Allow them to harden out overnight. Place one or two tablets at the bottom of the garbage can to freshen.


This is a guest post by Mitali from Kolkata, India.

Cleaning Your Kitchen--the Natural and Frugal Way