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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Kitchen Cleaners

Frugal Kitchens 101

In addition to food and all things food related a good portion of the kitchen dollar is spent towards kitchen cleaners.  The manufacturers through slick advertising have convinced us we need all these fancy products to clean in the kitchen when that simply is not the case.  Not only are these cleaners expensive they pollute our indoor air reducing air quality and increasing respiratory problems.  This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 addresses the issue of kitchen cleansers.

Here are the cleaners I use in my kitchen along with how they are used.  All are effective and inexpensive.  Notice the first three are foods found in most kitchens. 

  • baking soda - Baking soda can be used as an abrasive to clean and shine most surfaces without scratching.  It deodorizes at the same time.  If I have a pot with burnt on food, I pour baking soda onto the food then cover with a little water and bring it to a boil.  Then I turn off the heat and let sit 15 minutes.  The burt food lifts right off with no scrubbing needed.  I use a modified method for glass casserole pans with burnt on food by sprinkling in baking soda then covering with boiling water.  A small bowl of baking soda will absorb odours in the fridge or kitchen. 
  • vinegar - Vinegar is one of my favourite cleaners.  I use a 1:1 vinegar to water solution in a spray bottle to clean windows and for damp mopping the kitchen floor.  It brings a sparkle to glass, chrome and ceramic tile while deodorizing.  I put a cup of white vinegar in a bowl to neutralize kitchen cooking odours like fish.  Vinegar also neutralizes the smell of paint when painting.  Vinegar has natural antibiotic properties so is great for wiping down countertops and other surfaces where germs can be an issue.
  • lemons/lemon juice - Lemons are natural room deodorizers.  If a room needs freshening I put a few lemons in a bowl.  A cut lemon will freshen a garbage disposal as well.  Lemon juice is great for cleaning metals and removing stains.
  • rubbing alcohol (50% ethanol) -  I buy rubbing alcohol at the dollar store then pour it into a spray bottle.  Rubbing alcohol is ideal for cleaning any shiny surfaces in the kitchen.  It is the perfect aseptic cleanser because it kills virtually all biologicals on contact.  It is low odour and dries quickly.  I use rubbing alcohol in the kitchen for shining stainless steel, chrome surfaces, countertops and windows.
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser - When I first bought a small package of Mr. Clean Magic erasers I was beyond being skeptical.  I discovered these things do work as promised.  I bought an 8 pk at Sam's Club a couple of years ago and still have 5 unused and 2 used so they are more than cost effective and they work!  I use one in the kitchen for removing any marks on the countertops or in the sink. 
  • household ammonia - Household ammonia is an excellent degreaser that makes surfaces squeaky clean.  The main problem with household ammonia is the smell so I tend to use this cleaner only on the toughest jobs and as a heavy duty cleaner for spring and fall cleaning.  A small bottle of household ammonia will last me a couple of years or more.  If a surface is really grungy which rarely happens I will use full strength but other than than I dilute in a spray bottle 1:100 household ammonia to water.  This is strong enough to get any grease off without being over powering.
  • Simple Green -  Simple Green is a commercial non-toxic, eco-friendly, all purpose cleanser.  The beauty of this cleaner is it comes concentrated in a 1 gal (3.78 L) jug for about $9.  From there I make up various strengths of solutions for cleaning - full strength, 1:1, 1:10. 1:30 depending on the cleaning chore.  In the kitchen the strength I use most is 1:10.  It is my prefered degreaser as well.  A one gallon jug of concentrated Simple Green last me a little over 2 years so that isn't a bad price.
  • dish soap - There is a lot of hype about dish soaps and what they can offer.  I prefer Sunlight liquid dish soap.  It is the best value for my money for washing those kitchen items that don't go in the dishwasher.  Sunlight is a Canadian brand that just works well and quite often goes on sale.
  • dishwasher detergent - I have a Bosch SHE44C02UC dishwasher.  The manufacturer indicates that powdered dishwasher detergent is preferable to liquid.  I tried the Cascade tabs but they left a residue from the plastic used.  I bough a big box of Cascade powdered dishwasher detergent to find out it does expire and with our weather humidity is an issure.  I switched to Member's Mark Gel (192 oz, $7.68, Sam's Club) that is considerably cheaper and works just as well.  I don't have to worry about the humidity issues with powdered or the eco-unfriendly higher phosphate levels of the tabs plus I can adjust the amount used as needed.   
  • rinse agent - Bosh are high end dishwashers when in comes to energy efficiency.  The down side is because of the drying mechanism they must have rinse agent.  I found the machine to be using a lot of rinse agent at a cost of about 10¢ per load for brand name.  I found a Canadian made rinse agent at the dollar store, same size as the brand name ($3.99)  and even cheaper than the store brand ($2.79).  At $1 per 8.5 oz (250 ml) bottle the cost of operation has gone from 5¢ per load to 1¢ per load and I'm getting the same great results.

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