As new research continues to surface about the health risks of harsh cleaning products, using simpler formulas is more appealing than ever. Here, non-toxic cleaning expert Melissa Maker shares the most effective ways to deep clean some of the peskiest surfaces in the home using gentle-yet-powerful ingredients you probably already have laying around. You're going to want to bookmark this one.
You should clean your dishwasher every 3-6 months, depending on how often it's running. Once you notice dishes aren’t coming out as sparkly or are starting to smell funny, it's time! Remember to leave the door cracked open when your dishwasher isn't in use between washes too.
- First thing's first: clean our your filter. Remove it from the dishwasher and soak it in the sink for an hour in hot, soapy water, and then scrub it clean with a nylon bristle brush. Finally, rinse it and put it back in.
- Then, sprinkle one cup of baking soda on the base of your empty dishwasher. Close the door and leave it overnight.
- The next morning, fill a cup with white vinegar and put it upright on the top rack of the dishwasher. Then set your dishwasher to a hot cycle and run it. This will allow the baking soda to scrub away odor-causing food particles as the vinegar helps to neutralize smells and break down hard water and mineral deposits.
- Once done, wipe everything down with a clean cloth.
If your food starts to taste off when it comes out of the oven or you start see smoke buildup, it's definitely time for a clean. Thankfully, many ovens have self-clean features, so read your manual and follow the rules exactly. (Most recommend removing the racks and anything on top of the stove, or anything in the warming drawer before running.) If you don’t have a self-cleaning oven, here's a super-effective routine:
- Mix up a batch of you own oven cleaner instead of using the store-bought stuff that contains lye, which can be very harmful to skin. Combine 1 cup baking soda, ¼ cup dish soap, ½ cup vinegar (add slowly), and 15 drops (sweet) orange essential oil into a heavy paste.
- Apply it all over the inside of the oven and leave for several hours or overnight. Wipe up with water.
- Racks should be cleaned separately, and the easiest way to do so is in the bathtub. Start by laying some old towels along the bottom of your tub to protect the surface from getting scratched. Place the racks on top of the towels, plug the drain, and start filling the tub with the hottest water possible. Let the tub fill until the water completely covers the racks.
- Take a cup of powdered laundry detergent and dissolve it in hot water in a mason jar, then add that mixture to the tub. Now let the detergent do its thing for the next 6 to 10 hours. Finally, drain the tub and give the racks a quick wipe and dry before putting them back in the oven.
Consider cleaning your washing machine once a month if you are a heavy user, and a couple times a year otherwise. Cleaning your machine regularly will make it last longer and eliminate moldy smells caused by stale soap and fabric softener buildup. It also means you'll get a better quality wash!
To help maintain your machine, always leave the door open when you are done with your washing. This lets the remaining moisture evaporate and protects against mold and mildew growth. Use the correct amount of detergent, always. Too much detergent will cling to the walls of your machine and lead to odors and dull clothes. These detergents are designed to be used in small quantities.
- Begin with an empty washing machine and add in about two cups of baking soda directly into the machine. This is going to gently scrub the inside and combat those stale, moldy odors that are left behind from old soap and fabric softener deposits. Run a large, long, hot water cycle and leave it be.
- Next, add in 2 cups of plain white vinegar and 10 drops of essential oil like tea tree or lavender, which help with mildew and mineral deposits, and will also act as a mild disinfectant. Run another cycle through and set it to the longest, hottest, largest load setting you can. The vinegar will help break down any deposits and further remove moldy smells.
- Once both cycles are complete, you can quickly wipe down the drum and agitator using a cotton cloth and vinegar. If you have any stains, try rubbing them with a paste of baking soda and water and a non-scratching sponge. That should remove just about everything.
- On front-load washers, that rubber seal that runs along the edges of the machine clings on to all kinds of gross stuff. Dip a cotton cloth into plain white vinegar and 10 drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil, and give yours a good wipe down.
- Next, tackle the exterior parts of the machine including your detergent dispensers, all cracks and crevices, and the door frame. Clean the inside and outside of the door with a cotton cloth and vinegar and water. Scrub grimy areas where necessary with a cleaning toothbrush (and baking soda, if needed) and wipe everything clean with a cotton cloth.
- If possible, you can soak your dispensing trays and then wipe clean.
You should be doing a weekly clean-out of your fridge to use up leftover food, and give it a deeper clean about once a month. That means removing anything expired, off, or unused. Make sure to get in the veggie and deli drawers, too. Finish by giving any exposed areas a wipe down with an all-purpose cleaner. Your fridge can become a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria if leaks, spills, and old food are left unattended for too long.
Once every three months, it’s time for a more thorough clean:
- Pull out everything (I mean everything!) from the fridge, including shelves and drawers.
- Give the interior a thorough spray of nontoxic cleaner. Give it some time to sit, then wipe and dry.
- Hand wash all the shelves and drawers in the sink with soap and warm water. Dry well and replace.
- Put everything back in the fridge, giving each item a quick wipe as it goes back in.
Blenders should be cleaned immediately after each use and the simplest, most effective way to do so is by filling yours about halfway with hot water and a few drops of dish soap, putting the lid on, and running the blender for about 10 seconds. Then rinse, wipe down and let dry.
Pro tip: If you have food stuck in the blender, add about ¼, cup of rice to the water before you run the machine. This will help to agitate the walls of the blender and loosen the food.
If your coffee isn’t tasting so fresh, you know it’s time for a cleaning! A good rule of thumb is to clean every 3-6 months. The best way is to fill the water tank halfway with white vinegar and the rest of the way with water. Run the machine to brew the largest pot or cup of coffee. Do this as many times as needed to empty the tank. Then refill the tank with clean water and run through again until empty.
Remove any parts that can be washed by hand and do so with warm, soapy water. Dry and put back into the machine. Water is pretty much always sitting in the machine, so it is important to keep it clean to squash any mold or mildew that could be growing!
Not in the mood to DIY? Here are a few home cleaners you can find in stores that aren't packed with chemicals.
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