Condo Blues: 7 Budget Friendly Kitchen Cleaners

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

7 Budget Friendly Kitchen Cleaners

Vinegar, vinegar, vinegar. Clean your house with vinegar. The folks over at The Dollar Stretcher have been giving this advice out this nugget of advice for years as a cheap alternative to buying an array of expensive house cleaners. Honestly, I wasn’t convinced that vinegar cleaned and disinfected my house as well as any number of commercial cleaners that I could buy at a closeout or dollar store.

Then the environmentally friendly folks started touting the benefits of using vinegar. Again, I was skeptical (yes, I’m a skeptic. However, gentle readers you do benefit from my skepticism because I actually test stuff out before blinding blogging good thoughts about anything. If I like it, I tell you why I like it. If I don’t’ like it I’ll tell you why it didn’t work for me.) Because, again, there are a whole host of environmentally friendly (but not so cheap) commercial cleaners I could use to clean my house.

Then Blitzkrieg entered my life and that all changed. My vet told me that many commercial floor cleaners contain chemicals that are toxic to pets! In the United States, unlike food and health and beauty products, manufacturers aren’t required to list the ingredients on the labels of household cleaners. That makes it very difficult while standing in the store to determine whether a cleaner (environmentally friendly or no) is going harm my dog if he licks it off of his paws. As a last resort I tried cleaning my kitchen floor with vinegar and a squirt of dish soap in my automatic floor cleaner. It worked.

“Hello, my name is Lisa and I’m a reformed cleaning with baking soda and vinegar skeptic.”

“Hi, Lisa!” you say.

As part of Retro Housewife goes green What under your sink challenge I give you the Condo Blues Kitchen Cleaning Arsenal.

OK. I admit that the fire extinguisher isn’t a cleaner. However, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared in the case of an emergency, does it? If you don’t have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, I suggest you buy one. Or put it on your Christmas list. You never know when you might need it. Hopefully never!

Natural Kitchen Cleaners and How I Use Them

Dish washing 

1. Powdered phosphate free store brand dish washing detergent mixed with a box of baking soda (in the milk jug.) Mixing baking soda into powdered dish washing detergent gives it an extra oomph when cleaning the dishes in your dishwasher. It’s also an excellent way to reuse that expired box of baking soda you put in the freezer/refrigerator as a deodorizer.

2. Vinegar in the Jet Dry container of the dishwasher. Vinegar works to keep spots off the glasses just like Jet Dry, Cascade, or a store brand-sheeting agent. Actually, I think vinegar has better sheeting action and keeps water spots from forming on my glasses. Who knew?

3.Store brand phosphate free dish detergent. For those rare times I hand wash dishes. I also use a mixture of dish detergent, vinegar, and water as a floor cleaner.

Counter Cleaners

1. Store brand cleaning wipes. Husband is The Man Who Makes My Dinner. Husband doesn’t like the smell of most spray surface cleaners because most of them are heavily perfumed. And honestly, I don't want The Condo to smell like a fake flower factory after I clean it. We compromise and clean the counters with wipes. This isn't the most environmentally friendly cleaner because we can't compost the spent wipes.

2. Cellulose sponges. We use sponges to clean up quick spills instead of paper towels. To extend the life and reduce the grungy funk factor of the sponges, I run them through dishwasher. There are some sponges are made with recycled materials, however these aren’t those. I'd love to try the cellulose sponges made with recycled materials but I can't find them locally so I use what I have. When it’s time to replace the sponges, I use the dead sponges to make self-watering potting soil by cutting them up and burying them in the dirt of my potted plants.

3. Baking soda with a spot of vinegar. To clean baked on crud off of my stove I sprinkle vinegar on the crud and add a spot of vinegar. The mixture bubbles up, loosens the baked on gunk, and allows me to easily wipe up the mess better than any commercial cleaner I’ve tried.

Floor Cleaners

1.A solution of half vinegar, half water, and healthy squirt of dish washing soap for a little extra cleaning oomph. I use this in my automatic floor cleaner. I also used it in the Swiffer that preceded the automatic floor cleaner with excellent results.

There you have it. The Condo Blues kitchen cleaners. Some of these cleaners are considered green, some are not. Some are homemade cleaners, and some are not. Nevertheless, all of these cleaners are budget-friendly and will easily help you keep your house FlyLady clean.

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Adier Barrin said...

Mom always used that whenever our kitchen smells bad even in my room and I don't like it hehe

Lisa said...

For the wipes Method makes ones that smell good and are better for the earth. I keep them around for my husband. I have a chronic illness and at times don't feel up to cleaning and so he can use the wipes without me trying to tell him which cleaner he should use and then him trying to find them, the wipes stay right in front lol.

I use scented Method cleaners a lot because my hubby likes the smells.

Lisa said...

Oh and for the vinegar as a rinse aid how much and how often??

Sandra said...

Very useful advices (spiced in with funny observations) which can be practiced in everyday life. I'm always in search for eco friendly alternatives.

Lisa said...

Thanks for the vinegar in the dishwasher tip! Works very well. :)

Designing Hilary said...

I'm bookmarking this post! Great information ... thank you for posting this.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Lisa - I have a Jet Dry dispenser built in my diswasher. I filled up the despenser to the rim and top it off every month or so. Basically, when I remember to do it or when I notice that stuff is starting to dry on the glasses in the diswasher.

Sandradb and Designing Hilary - I'm glad you found this post useful. Feel free to come back and visit anytime!

Anonymous said...

First of all, thanks for adding me as one of your favorites. I'm so flattered. I read your comment about the Sally Field moment and I know exactly how you feel. A million thanks for adding me to your circle.

On another note, I absolutely loved this entry on the household cleaners you used and your reviews. I'm also going green [I'm about a mint green, right now] and will try those solutions. You're right. You read them over and over again in the mags but are much too skeptical to think they work. It takes a blogger to change a blogger.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in using vinegar instead of Jet Dry. Do the dishes smell like vinegar at all when they are done?

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Anonymous - no my dishes don't smell like vinegar when I use it in the Jet Dry container in my dishwasher. My dishes don't smell like anything, they're just clean and spot free!

Anonymous said...

In re: to your sponge use; in my kitchen we keep rags hanging under the sink to clean up quick spills. We only use them on the floor... but we could also designate one for the floor and one for the counter top.

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