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5 Ways to Clean Your Kitchen Naturally

May 11th, 2015
Center for Food Safety

Having a healthy home isn't just about healthy food — safe, non-toxic cleaning methods can also be used to keep your kitchen safe. This week, we're showcasing simple ways to use items already in your pantry to clean your kitchen. Swapping out your usual cleaning aids for these natural products will help make your kitchen a healthier place.

Here are 5 tips for cleaning your kitchen without the use of harmful chemicals.

1. Make Your Own Citrus Cleaner

This all-purpose citrus cleaner is a great natural alternative to store-bought cleaners. It also reduces waste by utilizing old citrus peels and smells fantastic!


  • Citrus peels
  • White vinegar
  • Handful of fresh herbs (Thyme or rosemary both pair well with citrus)


  • 1 half-gallon mason jar with lid
  • Fine mesh sieve
  • Large bowl
  • Spray bottle


As you use up different types of citrus, add the peels to a large mason jar until it's filled at least half way. This could take a few weeks, depending on how much citrus you eat.

Once your jar has enough peels, pour vinegar over the peels until it fills the jar. Add fresh herbs, cover your jar with a lid and allow it to sit in a dark place for at least two weeks. The longer you let it sit, the more the citrus and herbs will infuse with the vinegar.

Strain the citrus cleaner using a fine mesh sieve placed over a large bowl. Discard the peels. Pour the cleaner into a spray bottle and use it as you would any other all-purpose cleaner.

2. Remove Cast Iron Rust

A raw potato and some baking soda can remove rust from skillets and other kitchen tools. This natural trick isn’t limited to cast iron — you can use it to remove rust from baking pans, knives, and other household tools.

To clean rust with a potato, cut it in half lengthwise or crosswise, depending on how large a surface area you want. Dip the cut end in baking soda and firmly rub it over the rust. If the end of the potato gets slick, slice it off and apply more baking soda. Repeat until the rust is removed, then rinse and dry.

3. Clean Your Wooden Utensils

With the right care, wood utensils can last for decades. But since they can’t go in the dishwasher, they’re a bit more difficult to care for than synthetic utensils. Wash the utensils in hot soapy water soon after use — don’t let them sit in water to soak. If any strong flavors have seeped into your utensils while cooking, rub the wood with a slice of lemon and let air-dry. Apply a mineral oil to the utensils every once in a while to prevent the wood from drying out and cracking to extend their life.

4. Deodorize Your Drain

As it gets warm outside, kitchen sink drains can start to smell. An easy fix for getting rid of kitchen odors is to sprinkle baking soda in the drain and then pour in white vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes and fizz, then rinse away with boiling water for a clean and odorless drain. You can also use lemon juice in place of vinegar for a sweet scent.

5. Fix Wood Scratches with Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds can be used to cover any scratches on your kitchen table. If you have scratches on wooden furniture with a medium-dark or dark stain, dip a cotton swab in moist used coffee grounds and cover the scratches. Let the grounds sit on the scratches for 10 minutes and then wipe away gently.You may need to repeat depending on the color of the furniture.

Check back next time for the second part of our kitchen cleaning series!