Suggest kitchen cleaning products
October 25, 2008 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Please suggest products that I should and should not use to clean different parts of the kitchen, such as a laminate counter top, stainless steel sink, or metal stove top. I am particularly interested in products that won't generate fumes that will send me out of the kitchen.

I usually use Clorox Clean-Up on the counter, but the bleach fumes are such that I can't really hang out in the kitchen afterwards. I'd really like something that I could use while I am watching something on the stove and have a couple of free minutes. I'm not opposed to using something fume-generating as well after I'm done cooking if it will do a better job.

I know not to mix ammonia and bleach.

I would also appreciate general kitchen cleaning tips.
posted by grouse to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I use Softscrub to do my counter and stainless steel sink. Slight lemon scent, that's all :) Also use some Comet. Little stronger, but again, no strong fumes.

The only place I use anything caustic like bleach or ammonia is when cleaning soap scum or mildew in the bathroom.
posted by sbutler at 2:14 PM on October 25, 2008

If the fumes bother you, and perhaps just because, you might want to google around for cleaning with lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda, and distilled white vinegar.
posted by mandal at 2:21 PM on October 25, 2008

The powdered cleaner Bon Ami is great for countertops, sinks, and glass stovetops. It's similar to Comet powder but does not have bleach, so it is less noxious (and better for the environment). It's also really cheap--a regular size can is 89¢. For general, everyday counter cleaning I like the spray Ecover glass and surface cleaner. It has a very mild scent, and no bleach or ammonia. For greasy spots like on the stove hood, I use Windex--it has a small amount of ammonia that really helps to cut the grease better than the eco-friendly options I have tried.
posted by Jemstar at 2:26 PM on October 25, 2008

A good habit is to clean up messes as their made when their wet (haven't had time to cake) and easier to remove. Then there's not as much to clean up afterwards either.

Like mandal suggest I like white vinegar: makes shiney things shine, baking soda with warm water when I need to scrub something, hydrogen peroxide when I want to sterilize something. A lot of times I'll just use a soapy sponge and warm water to wipe everything down. No smelly chemicals at all this way.

Maybe check out heloise, flylady, Real Simple's cleaning section and How to Clean Stuff for some ideas.
posted by dog food sugar at 2:31 PM on October 25, 2008

urg. 'their' should be 'they're'. Sorry.
posted by dog food sugar at 2:34 PM on October 25, 2008

You can just use dishsoap and water on the counters, in fact you can clean pretty much everything with it. Or Dr. Bronners if you want to get natural. Those bleach cleaners are great on a toilet, but you don't really need them on your counters if you was them well.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:43 PM on October 25, 2008

Yeah, a sponge with dish washing soap is what I use for nearly all kitchen surfaces because it cuts grease. Occasionally some Seventh Generation soft-scrub cleanser to get the grout extra clean on the tile counter, and I scrub the wooden cutting boards with salt and vinegar. Baking soda makes a great cleanser for stainless steel sinks. I've also found that enzyme cleaners (like Nature's Miracle) do a really good job on floors, both spot cleaning and mopping; and for wiping down the inside of the fridge and freezer. Any weird freezer stink disappears without tainting all the food with powerful cleansing odors or perfumes- I can always taste them in food, which is completely disgusting.

Things I avoid: scrubbing stainless steel or enamel stovetops with anything that will scratch them.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:50 PM on October 25, 2008

My usual approach for scrubby needs: Dampen sponge with warm water. Sprinkle baking soda on sponge to form paste. Scrub whatever needs scrubbing. Rinse sponge. Wipe surface. No smell and really cheap.
posted by PatoPata at 3:50 PM on October 25, 2008

Also, be careful about what you use on food surfaces.

My wife and I argued about her using "all-purpose" cleaner on the countertops until I showed her exactly what was in it and gave her links to reports of poisonings due to this sort of thing. If you're going to use a commercial product for cleaning your counters, fridge, etc. make sure it says that that's what it's for.
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:58 PM on October 25, 2008

The general product line we use for cleaning supplies is Mrs Meyers, BTW. I like it because the scents are pretty mild, it's nearly all biodegradable, and the dishwashing soap doesn't dry out my hands anywhere near as badly as other products. Their safety and environmental info is here, if you're interested.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:02 PM on October 25, 2008

White vinegar, definitely. It's effective on all surfaces in the kitchen, works really well, and the very obvious vinegar smell dissipates quickly after use. If it needs serious scrubbing, use a sponge and baking soda like PatoPata suggested.
posted by VioletU at 4:08 PM on October 25, 2008

OK wait. If you want a cleaner you can buy at your supermarket, are not concerned about getting poisoned from chemical cleanser, are not bothered by the effect of one bottle of stuff on the environment, and just want to wipe down your counters, then you can use... anything.

Just walk into the cleaning aisle and spray some stuff until something smells OK to you. Avoid anything with bleach (which is probably a bathroom cleaner) if the smell bothers you. Pretty much anything that is stronger than water will clean a laminate kitchen counter and do zero damage to it. You can probably clean those things with acid and they'll be fine.

Stainless steel, however, needs a stainless steel cleaner. It shows every smudge and finder print and unless you're prepared to spend an hour buffing your fridge, your sanity will be saved by buying a specialist stainless steel product.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:37 PM on October 25, 2008

We use baking soda to clean up our stainless steal sink and then a sponge with dish soap on it for the counters. We use wood cutting board and wash them down with a cleanish sponge and slightly soapy water.

Don't see much reason to go the harsh chemical route (except for advertising). Soap and water and air drying will kill most things (or wash them away) pretty quickly.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 6:03 PM on October 25, 2008

Those "magic erasers" work pretty well. If I have any stubborn stains on my white counter tops or on painted walls, I bust out one of those and scrub lightly. Removes stains without messing up the underlying material.
posted by wrnealis at 6:22 PM on October 25, 2008

We try to avoid bleach because it harms our septic system. We have found a product called "Odoban" Earth choice item. Silver formula Germ Control. A disinfectant, fungicide and viruscide. Kills MRSA and VRE. Disinfects without bleaching. Those words are on the spray bottle. It seems to be a safe product to use and has no fragrance to bother a person.
posted by JayRwv at 6:46 PM on October 25, 2008

I read an article about microfiber and finally decided it was worth a try. Amazingly, they work as advertised. If you really need to scrub you probably still need something stronger, but for basic cleaning/polishing they work great alone or slightly dampened.
posted by O9scar at 8:01 PM on October 25, 2008

I also love Bon Ami and have used it for years. But now I've set it aside for Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser sponges. Nearly effortlessly they clean burnt on grease on stainless steel pans and remove stains from coffee and tea cups without using anything more than dishsoap. They also take soap scum right off the bath tub without any cleanser; the sponge just has to be damp. Also, I've used Harris Teeter's store brand eraser sponges and they worked great too.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 10:00 PM on October 25, 2008

When I make my morning coffee I boil a little extra water then pour it all over my sink (and the drain board beside the sink - not everyone has one of these). This is a surface where everything ends up and it's a source for frequent bacterial growth. The hot water kills some of that. If the cutting board has been used recently and is nearby I'll usually pour hot water on it as well.

I sometimes get grossed out by sponges and don't like using a bunch of paper towels so I bought a bunch of cheap wash cloths, all the same color, different from my bathroom washcloths. I keep a stack of them handy for quick clean ups, wipe downs with warm soapy water, then they go in the washing machine.
posted by dog food sugar at 8:37 AM on October 26, 2008

Even if you want to use natural cleaners or non-bleach-based ones, I recommend having a bottle of 409 on hand to wipe up after raw meat to prevent cross-contamination.

And as a side note, we just tried that Clorox Greenworks junk they are always advertising on TV...and it just attracted bugs. I'm going back to 409.
posted by radioamy at 11:13 AM on October 26, 2008

radioamy, I'm not sure 409 is any safer than bleach. The bottle says not to use it on surfaces that come in contact with food, or at least flush them with water afterward. The MSDS says to "wear safety glasses and rubber gloves" and "avoid all splashing" while handling.

You can search for all sorts of household product ingredient and safety info here.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:34 PM on October 26, 2008

I've covered counter workspace next to the sink and stove with glass cutting boards, which seem more hygienic to me than putting food directly on the counters: the boards can go through the dishwasher. Other surfaces I clean with Windex, including spills inside the microwave. Older stoves will have foil trays under the coiled heating elements; replace when they get gross. There are special products for newer flat-top stoves. I was fairly impressed with Easy Off fume free when I had to clean the inside of my oven.
posted by woodway at 12:58 PM on October 28, 2008

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