6 Spring Cleaning Tips for Your
By Joe Wilkes
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to
springtime, which means for a lot of us, it's time to do a deep clean of our
homesthrowing out the old, organizing the new, storing the winter clothes, and
getting ready for warmer weather and a fresh start. For others, it's the
beginning of another season of denial about how squalid our living conditions
have become. Even more than New Year's, spring is a good chance to make some
new resolutions and to create an environment that will make us want to keep
them. Here are some ideas for getting your kitchen into shape.
- Out with the old. I like to
think of my refrigerator as a cabinet of hope. Most times it's full of fruits
and vegetables, purchased in a fit of confidence that I was going to steam and
stir-fry my way to a slimmer me. Then I end up going out with friends to
restaurants and my Sunday produce is looking pretty bad by week's end. Yet,
unbelievably, I leave it in my refrigerator with the hope that it will return
to a state of edibility. Similarly, expired dairy products and condiment
bottles litter my shelves, products of my misguided optimism that they, too,
will come back in fashion like my '80s wardrobeif I only wait long
enough. I am here to tell you, there has been no grocery miracle in my
refrigerator these many years. And now it's time to give its expired residents
a proper burial.
First thing to do, get rid of everything that even
looks old. Be merciless. If it's past the expiration date, throw it out. If it
doesn't have an expiration date, throw it out. Another scourge in my fridge is
the many plastic containers filled with leftovers. I don't remember exactly
what meal they are left over from, but I can't recall anything that included
hair as an ingredient. Much of the reason the containers languish in the back
of the fridge is I'm avoiding the horror of having to wash out the science
experiment they've become. This year, I'm going to throw money at the problem,
and throw out the leftovers in their containers without ever lifting the lid.
Then I will treat myself to shiny, new plastic containers as a reward for my
new hygienic lifestyle. Additionally, if my plastic cutting boards are beyond
bleaching, it's a good annual tradition to replace them.
- Out with the bad. While I'm
gripped in the mania of throwing away all the food that has literally turned to
garbage, I'm also going to throw away the food that is metaphorically garbage.
All the unhealthy snack foods that lure me off my healthy eating plan are going
to have to go. I'm evicting the half-full bags of tortilla and potato chips
from my cupboards. Ben and Jerry are moving from the freezer to the dumpster.
Any empty-calorie snacks that I can steal a spoonful or handful of and pretend
that it doesn't count have to hit the road. Once I clear the cupboards and
refrigerator, I can go to the store and load up on healthy staples, whose
temptations I won't have to resist.
- In with the new. Now that
the refrigerator is clean and the cupboards are bare, it's time to shop. Stock
up the larder with delicious, healthy foods from the
two tiers of Michi's Ladder. And make sure to get lots of easy-to-prepare
snacks that are within easy reach when hunger pangs hit. Great snacks include
cottage cheese, nonfat yogurt, hummus, salsa, or raisins. Instant oatmeal,
whole grain cereals, and egg whites are good to have on hand for breakfast. And
foods like brown rice, dried beans, canned broths, water-packed tuna, and
frozen fruits and vegetables are good staples to always keep in supply for
mealtime. Of course, you should try and eat plenty of fresh produce, seafood,
and lean meats to eat as well. Just don't be like me and go crazy at the Sunday
farmers' market only to have to throw food away at the end of the week. Buy
enough perishable items to last a couple of days and then make short trips to
the supermarket or farmers' market during the week. Your food will taste
better, fresher, and you won't have a CSI episode in the crisper
drawer at the end of the week.
- When life gives you lemons . . .
I know I've talked a lot about throwing all your produce
away. But some of it can do a little cleaning work for you before it hits the
compost bin. Lemons are very acidic and their juice is naturally antibacterial
and antiseptic, and you can use it to bleach countertop stains and shine up
metal. And it makes your kitchen smell lemony fresh, to boot! Instead of
throwing them in the trash, throw one or two in the garbage disposal and grind
away. It will help get rid of food dried on to the blades and fill your kitchen
with the smell of lemons. (If the lemons are really old and the rind's turned
hard and leathery, don't try this. The disposal blades might not be able to
chop it, and then it'll just rattle around in your disposal forever. Trust me,
I know.) Another great tip a friend gave me is to cut a bunch of lemons in half
and put them in a big microwave-safe bowl and fill with water. Then microwave
the bowl of lemons on high for a few minutes, until the water steams. Keep the
microwave closed and the lemon juice-infused steam will permeate all the stuff
cooked onto the microwave walls from various exploding culinary attempts. The
crud will wipe off easily and will smell great. Best of all, no toxic cleaners
to accidentally find their way into your meals!
- Vinegarnot just for salad.
While you're cleaning and staying nontoxic, try using
Michi's Ladder's top-tier favorite, vinegar, to spruce up your kitchen. Diluted
with water, white vinegar can be used to clean windows, wash floors, and wipe
countertops. It cuts grease and removes stains from cookware and if you run a
potful through your coffeemaker, you'll be amazed at the kind of hard water
deposits it removes. It also is good for removing hard-water stains on your
glassware. It even cuts soap scum and kills mildew, so you might give good,
old-fashioned cheap white vinegar a try, before investing in expensive cleaners
that can introduce toxins into your kitchen.
sodanot just for baking. Here's a fun fact.
Did you know that baking soda mixed with grease makes soap? It's true. So it's
a great, cheap, nontoxic way to wipe off your stovetop and the surrounding
areas that have been spattered by a season's worth of stir-fries. An open box
can absorb odors in the refrigerator, and a little sprinkled in your garbage
will do likewise. If you have a grease fire, you can put it out with baking
soda. If you have pots with burned-on food, let them soak in baking soda and
water overnight. Also, if you have plastic storage containers that are a bit
stinky from their previous occupants, try soaking them overnight in baking soda
and water. You can make a baking soda paste with water and polish your silver.
It's a miracle productnontoxic, and cheap!