You clean your kitchen from top to bottom to ensure that no bacteria are able to thrive in the food you feed your family. But the very cleaners that you are using may actually be making your family sick.
Cleaning products are the major cause of poisoning of young children and family pets. And this isn’t just through swallowing the products directly from the containers. It can happen from children or pets being on or touching surfaces that have been cleaned by these products. This also holds true of certain pots and pans that we use. It is what the items are made of that can be harmful as well as what we clean them with.
In the kitchen the main sources of toxins include bleach, ammonia-based cleansers, all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaner, floor wax or polish, dish detergents and brass or other metal polishes.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency only a portion of the registered chemicals used to make these products have been tested completely for health concerns.
Many of these products are derived from petroleum and tar, which are the two major sources of cancer-causing carcinogens. This alone should be scary enough to make people want to use safer alternatives for cleaners.
Non-toxic cleansers can be made from products you already have in your kitchen. Combinations of products such as water, baking soda, vinegar, biodegradable soap, citrus based cleansers, and hydrogen peroxide can clean your kitchen safely and thoroughly.
Baking soda works well in sinks and on stovetops. Just sprinkle the baking soda on the dirty surface, let it sit a few minutes, then scrub clean with a sponge and water. Baking soda is also good for pots and pans.
For countertops, sinks and other surfaces you want clean you can use both white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Place 3% hydrogen peroxide in one spray bottle and white vinegar in another spray bottle. Spray each alternately and wipe clean with hot water.
This combination is 10 times more effective in killing bacteria than commercial cleaners. Vinegar is also good for stubborn stains on dishes or plastic containers. Just pour some vinegar on the stained surface and let sit. Wash as usual and the stain should be gone. Lemon juice also works well as a natural non toxic catch all cleaner.
Pots and Pans
Harmful toxins can be cooking up alongside your food in the pots, pans and storage containers that you use. Copper and aluminum cookware, and even stainless steel can release toxic metals while interacting with food and heat. These metals accumulate in your body and can reach the point of toxicity.
Memory loss, headaches, Alzheimer’s, and indigestion have been linked to aluminum while high levels of copper can compromise the immune system.
Nonstick pans contain a plastic coating that has been proven to kill domestic birds when used at high temperatures. It is also linked to immune disorders and cancer. If only the fumes of the hot coating can kill an animal, imagine what it emits into your foods, and body, after a long period of use.
Plastic containers that you store your food in and then re-heat it in can be dangerous to you too. When plastic containers are heated, pores in the plastic open releasing cancer-causing chemicals derived from petroleum into your food. It is recommended to use a ceramic or glass container to store and reheat your food whenever possible.
Do you know that each year Americans suffer from 76 million cases of food born illnesses each year? Of these number of illnesses, 325,000 cases of these illnesses results in hospitalization and 5,000 cases results in death. Could the some of these cases because from the bacteria in our kitchens?
The Bacteria Threat
What steps should we take to make our kitchens cleaner and what can we do to help eliminate some of the bacteria in our kitchens without using harmful toxic chemicals? Try these easy steps:
• Remember as soon as you enter a kitchen and begin touching things you are spreading around bacteria. This means the moment your hands touches the faucet of your sink, your refrigerator handle and even the knobs of your stove, germs and bacteria are beginning to get spread. These of course are places you must clean when you are cleaning up your kitchen.
• You must be vigilant about keeping germs and bacteria from cross contaminating. One great way to do this is by keeping color coded sponges in your home. Certain sponges are used for certain purposed. For instance, choose one colored sponge for wiping down counter tops and use this for only that purpose. Never use that sponge to clean your dishes.
• Every day or every other day take the time to clean and microwave your sponge. This is the only way to destroy germs and bacteria that gets into those sponges. Make sure the sponges are damp and place them into your microwave for about two minutes. The heat will kill the bacteria in them.
• If you don’t want to take the time to microwave a sponge, use paper towels or better yet use cloth towels that you can wash. Use these for a day and then toss them into your wash. When washing use hot water to kill any germs and bacteria on them.
• Use rubber cutting boards such as the Sani Tuff Line – they do not leave as many grooves in the surface as the plastic models and if they do get grooved, they can be sanded down. Clean them well with hot water. If you use wood cutting boards then clean them with hot water and 100% straight household vinegar. Make sure you are using separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables to prevent cross contaminated.
• Be vigilant about cleaning and always wash your hands before cooking.
Yes, you must always take the necessary steps when it comes to cooking and cleaning to keep your family and yourself healthy. Remember if your kitchen is clean enough to pass a health inspection test it is clean enough to keep your family healthy and that disinfecting and cleanliness can be accomplished through more benign (to humans) natural chemicals such as vinegar, citrus based cleansers, and others. It is impossible to eliminate all toxins from your everyday life but taking as many steps as possible to reduce them will help you lead a longer, healthier life.
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!