Friday, November 18, 2011

Create Abundance at Home #18: Clean cabinets & fridge!

Today is the perfect day to clear out your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator and make room for fresh favorite foods and spices and holiday treats. Here are some green instructions on clearing out and cleaning your cabinets and fridge, including stainless steel refrigerators!

Kitty Marty helps with cleaning chores.

Toss out all the stuff you thought you'd like, but tried and realized you don't. If you're like me, you might feel a little guilty about throwing away a half-eaten box or jar of food. Remind yourself that you're an individual and therefor entitled to preferences. Recognize and be thankful that you are truly blessed to be among the minority of the world that has the opportunity to eat with abundance according to your preferences.

Donate unopened food that is still safe and edible to a food drive or directly to a local food bank. This Sunday The Secret City is collecting non-perishable food for the 2nd Annual Food Drive and I bet this time of year, lots of other organizations are probably doing the same thing. (Consider also making a cash donation to the Food Bank for New York City. Donations are currently being matched so you cash will have an even bigger impact!)

If you need advice on making non-emotional decisions on how long to keep food item and how to store them, visit They claim to be "your ultimate shelf life guide" and who am I to argue?

Empty, clean, and recycle jars of condiments you never use. Plastic tubs that contained forgotten hummus and take-away can be recycled via the Park Slope Food Coop's recycling program. Corpses of herbs and veggies, along with pasta, rice, coffee grounds and other plant-based food, can be taken to the Greenmarket collection for compost.

How to clean kitchen cabinets:
  • Use handheld attachment or Dustbuster to vacuum up any spills or other messes in the cabinet. 
  • Spritz with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water or your favorite all-purpose cleaner. Wipe with cloth. 
  • Leave cabinets open for a bit so they can air dry.
How to clean a refrigerator:
  • Combine a tablespoon of baking soda with a quart of hot (not boiling) water in a small pail or big mixing bowl to make a cleaning solution. You could also use a small squirt of dish detergent instead. (Just make sure the water isn't sudsy.) I like to do both! 
  • Fill another bowl or pail with just hot water.
  • Unplug fridge.
  • Vacuum or dust the top exterior of fridge unit. If you are strong enough to move your fridge, vacuum the grates behind it and the floor under it too.
  • Then wipe the top exterior with a cloth dipped in the cleaning solution. Then rub the cloth along the grooves of the rubber thing that holds the door closed. 
  • Using a sponge with a white (gentle) scrubby side dipped in the cleaning mixture, wipe down the inside of the freezer or fridge (whichever is on top). Decide if you'd like to start or end with the door, then start. Set out to work from top to bottom and from left to right, so you don't miss anything or spill stuff onto cleaned areas. Use scrubby side to get gunky messes cleaned faster.
  • Tips: If your fridge isn't crammed with stuff, you can just slide items over onto an area you haven't cleaned yet. If bottles, jars, or other containers are icky, wipe them off too before putting them onto a cleaned area.
  • Important: Squeeze sponge inside of bowl of plain water every now and then to rinse and refresh it before putting it into the bowl of cleaning solution.
  • Repeat process in fridge or freezer, whichever is on the bottom.
  • Clean the outside front. Use a retired toothbrush dipped in a bit of the cleaning solution to get any gunk out from along the handle and screws. If the refrigerator is stainless steel, clean with a little bit of Bon Ami powder cleanser on the soft side of the sponge, going along the grain. Rinse well with water on the sponge, then dry really well with a soft towel, again going along the grain. If it's not stainless steel, use the cleaning solution you've been using all along with a the cloth and don't worry about drying it. 
  • Write the date on a two boxes of baking soda, and put one in the fridge and another in the freezer. Try to swap the boxes in three months, which is a good time to clean out the fridge again. If you already had boxes of baking soda in the fridge, save the old ones to use for unclogging your drains.
  • Plug the fridge back in. (So important, but easy to forget.)
Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 
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