For some folks, the idea of using harsh chemicals to clean the kitchen just doesn't make sense. Chemicals can be toxic when not used properly. They can also be bad for the environment. They're expensive, too. In the case of bleach, even though it may be considered natural, it's still a strong chemical. When combined with ammonia (accidentally, of course), bleach produces a poisonous gas. Actually, just the fumes from undiluted bleach can cause respiratory problems. That's not even taking into account the damage bleach can do to clothes, carpeting and other textiles.
If you'd like to try a disinfectant that's a little more planet- and user-friendly than bleach (or many disinfectant products on the market), Susan Sumner, the author of Green Housekeeping, has a suggestion. Disinfect your countertops and other kitchen surfaces with a one-two punch of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Alone, these natural ingredients are good at killing germs. Together, they're super effective. This is a two-part process:
- Place the contents of a bottle of hydrogen peroxide (3 percent strength) into a dark spray bottle. Light will destroy the peroxide, so the container has to be dark.
- Fill a second spray bottle with white vinegar.
- Wash your countertops with soap and water as you would normally.
- Now spray them with vinegar and follow up immediately with the peroxide.
- That's it. You don't even have to rinse. The vinegar smell will dissipate on its own in a few minutes.
- Don't combine the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in a single spray bottle, though. The vinegar will convert the peroxide to pure water before it has a chance to do its job. Used separately, this dynamic duo will bubble away germs and leave your countertops clean, disinfected and ready for anything.
- Clorox. "Tips for a cleaner countertop." (6/12/12). http://www.clorox.com/clorox-cleaning-and-laundry-advisor/cleaning-advisor/advice/countertop/
- Durham, Sharon. "Best Ways to Keep Kitchen Sponges." Farm Bureau Federation - Ohio. (6/12/12). http://ourohio.org/home-gardens/keeping-safe/home-and-garden/best-ways-to-clean-kitchen-sponges/
- How to Clean Stuff. "How to Clean Countertops." (6/12/12). http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/how-to-clean-countertops/
- People's Pharmacy. "Can Vinegar Disinfect Counters?" 1/14/08. (6/12/12). http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2008/01/14/can-vinegar-dis/
- Sophisticated Edge. "How Do You Disinfect Granite Countertops?" (6/12/12). http://www.sophisticatededge.com/how-do-you-disinfect-granite-countertops.html
- Sumner, Susan. Daily Spark. "How to Disinfect Your Home -- Naturally." 9/14/09. (6/12/12). http://www.dailyspark.com/blog.asp?post=how_to_disinfect_your_home_naturally
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control. "An Ounce of Prevention Keeps the Germs Away." (6/12/12). http://www.cdc.gov/ounceofprevention/docs/oop_brochure_eng.pdf
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Food Safety at Home." 2006. (6/12/12). http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/ucm118524.htm?utm_campaign=Google2&utm_source=fdaSearch&utm_medium=website&utm_term=keeping%20kitchen%20clean&utm_content=8
- University of Oklahoma. "Can Your Kitchen Pass the FDA's Food Safety Test?" 2004. (6/12/12). http://www.ou.edu/oupd/kittest.htm
- University of Rochester Medical Center. "Keeping Your Kitchen Under Control." (6/12/12). http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=1220
HowStuffWorks finds out how often you should wash your coffee cup or mug to avoid germs.