6 Steps to a Healthier Kitchen

by Amanda Hearn · 18 comments

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A non-toxic home is so very important and one of the most important rooms in the home is the kitchen – after all this is where the food that nourishes our bodies is prepared.

When I think about creating a non-toxic kitchen I think about contamination of food from toxic chemicals – corrosives, irritants and carcinogens – going into food that may already be compromised by pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other ill-regulated food processes. Quite frankly the whole dynamic frightens me but I don’t let it overcome me. I take steps to create a non-toxic kitchen that really don’t require a lot of effort – it’s about going back to basics. There are simple steps that you can take to create a healthier environment in your home and specifically in your kitchen, which is what we are talking about here today.

One simple step is to invest in glass storage containers.

By choosing glass you’re going to be eliminating exposure to bisphenols (like BPA) and other potentially serious chemicals that can leach out from the plastics over time. In addition to eliminating any risk of exposure, you are investing in products that are going to last longer and hold up better than their plastic counterparts which will discolor, deteriorate and warp.

  • One of our favorite purchases has been the affordable Pyrex glass storage containers. You can find them practically anywhere and they really hold up – they do have plastic type lids so do be sure not to use those parts in the microwave. Instead use a napkin or even a plate to cover the bowl.
  • Saving jars to use for refrigerator and dry good storage is a great, no-cost idea.
  • A jar attachment be used with vacuum sealers to get a longer shelf life from refrigerated and dry foods. I have kept ready-made salads good for a week using this attachment!

Another simple step is to choose stainless steel (or cast iron).

Choose stainless steel or cast iron over other products for items like pots and pans – and I advise strongly against coated, nonstick cookware! I don’t care how “green” it says it is – stay away from it! There are chemicals in these things we don’t fully understand and there’s no sense in risking it. Not to mention that those linings chips off and end up in our food – we’ve seen it time and time again. Over the years the information about these linings only gets scarier. Going back to the basics with stainless steel and cast-iron pots and pans will eliminate possible exposure. These items work, they are safe and if you invest in them you can have products that you can be proud to have in your home – and you don’t have to spend a lot! I picked up my favorite stainless pots & pans a piece at a time, for great prices, at TJMaxx.

  • When choosing a cookware set, be sure that the pans are not lined. I have seen so many “stainless” sets with nonstick coatings in the skillets. While some stainless sets can be pricey, this one from Cuisinart is rated well and comes in at just over $100 for a complete set!
  • If your heart is set on cast iron, be sure that it will work with your cooktop before buying!

Get rid of the plastic utensils!

I am talking about spatulas, spoons, etc. Things that come into contact with heat should never be plastic! We’ve all been there –  we seen them melt and warp and do all sorts of other crazy things when we let them sit in a pan for just a little too long. This is not good for our food and this is not good for our bodies. Ditch these sub-par products and stick to wood, bamboo, stainless steel, etc. These things are safe, they work and they’ll last you a whole lot longer! One of my favorite utensils is actually a bamboo spatula that I picked up for about $2 in a multi-pack.

  • The spatula with the center hole is my favorite and this set is just over $7!
  • Stainless and wooden utensils are also great, often affordable, choices.

No plastic water bottles!

While we are on the topic of plastics, go ahead and recycle all of those water bottles you have and pick up some stainless steel reusables like those from Klean Kanteen. They are fabulous, trendy and will save your health & your wallet a lot!

  • Our favorites are these from Klean Kanteen, we have several and our son takes one to school daily, but any stainless bottle is a good option!
  • My husband also adores his insulated Klean Kanteens (they keep beverages piping hot even when he’s working in frigid temperatures!)

Non-toxic cleaning.

When we talk about creating a healthier kitchen we want to get down to the very basics – the cleaning. If you are using toxic chemicals to clean your counter tops or cutting surfaces, where you prepare your food, you are exposing your your food to toxic chemicals that don’t belong in your home – let alone in your body. To eliminate this risk, choose to use natural cleaners like vinegar (which kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of germs all by itself! -according to Heinz company spokesperson Michael Mullen) or safe brands like those below.

  • It couldn’t be easier to DIY your own cleaners – vinegar is fantastic and you can always kick it up a notch with antimicrobial essential oils.
  • Products from brands like Green Shield, Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyers can be better choices. Have a look at the ingredients to be sure as not all brands are safe across the board!
  • Not sure how your favorite brand stacks up? Check them out om the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

Safe detergents.

One cleaner that is often overlooked is dish detergent. Much of what you wash your dishes with will be rinsed away, and there is definitely some peace of mind in that, but we have to think beyond our kitchens. A lot of the motivation behind making healthier choices can be self focused in a way, but we also need to consider the impact that were making on the environment around us. Choosing safe dish liquids and detergents is not only better for our health, but for the health of the wildlife and vegetation in our area – and beyond.

  • No one said you had to stick with store bought detergents. Give my borax-free DIY dishwasher detergent recipe a try!
  • Ecover Dishwashing Tablets are the favorite among my green-living pals – and they are among the highest rated on Amazon.
  • If you try other eco-brands and find that your dishes are cloudy, consider adding white vinegar to your rinse aid compartment in place of Jet Dry and similar chemical concoctions. You will be amazed by how well it works!
  • Adding Lemi-Shine (a citric acid product) to your detergent compartment is another safe way to get cloud & streak-free dishes!
  • If you prefer a liquid dish soap for handwashing, consider using a squirt of Dr.Bronners Castile Soap, Better Life Dish It Out Soap or BioKlean Dish Soap.
  • Another liquid handwashing option, surprisingly enough, is liquid soap nuts extract like this from Eco Nuts! It cleans well and is incredibly safe.

These are just a few simple steps that can make a big impact on the healthfulness of your kitchen. I would love to hear some of the steps that you take to create a healthy home environment!

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama October 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Great tips! We follow them all. Sharing!

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Good Girl Gone Green October 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm

All great ideas! I need to get more wooden utensils for the kitchen!

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AnonymousMom October 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Your scare tactics are stressing me out to the point that I have to unsubscribe from your blog. I’m sorry- I can make improvements but I don’t need someone telling me that every item in my kitchen is poisoning my family. Moms have enough guilt and anxiety as it is.

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Amity @GreenChildMg October 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Wish I had found your dishwasher detergent recipe this weekend… before I tried Charlie’s laundry soap in my dishwasher (we were out of Ecover). So now all the dark plates have a white film on them!

Seriously, this is great info. We’ve moved away from plastics over the past few years, and started using cast iron for cooking, glass for storage, and wooden or stainless for serving. Not having all that plastic makes us feel like grown ups too :)

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Yvette Rose October 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Wonderful eco-friendly tips. I’ve incorporated recycling, composting and the Bokashi method in my life to help care for Mother Earth. http://blog.joulebody.com/detox-body-earth/

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Lolli S October 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Wonderful post! I am so happy that hubby and I already have a green kitchen :) We avoid plastics when possible and use pans that don’t have the non stick coating. Love that you use Dr. Bronner’s too! The Tea Tree is my favorite!!

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Kerri (TheMaven) October 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm

What a fabulous post. I’m happy to say I’m doing 95% of them (still eliminating the plastic containers, but I use about 90% glass!

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gingermandy October 4, 2012 at 10:20 am

These are great tips! I am still working on getting a set of glass Pyrex bowls and have to replace a few plastic utensils with wood or bamboo, but I’m getting there. Plastic stuff is so cheap and dangerous and once you switch to bamboo you realize what you’ve been missing out on. So much nicer.

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Frank Schooley October 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm

It always amazes me how overlooked baking soda is. It goes in chocolate chips cookies, can be used to brush your teeth, a counter cleaner and the list continues. Thanks for the great list!

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megan October 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm

hi great tips , ones thing i would like to know is, when finished with or throwing out these items that are toxic etc , where do they go? right into landfill! surely they can be recycled or donated for other projects etc, i hate waste of anything, but clogging up the dumps of unwanted products isn’t the answer, ( i know you never mentioned this , it is just my point of view) could you please provide some places or companies that take these items as donations for art projects or recycling etc , i would feel more inclined to go and buy these alternatives if i knew i wasn’t just adding to more landfill. thanks

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Wesley April 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Hi Amanda,
For toxic-free cleaning, baking-soda or borax and vinegar are great. Baking-soda is so diverse in its many uses; whether for cooking or cleaning. And, on the ec0-cheap as well!

For moldy and persistent bathroom or tub stains, I like to combine baking soda (or borax) with vinegar. A fifty-fifty ratio will yield a pretty good paste to apply to stubborn stains. Let absorb into mold debris and scrub away.
Great Stuff Here!

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Wendi @ H2OBungalow August 31, 2013 at 10:51 am

I just found your site looking for more information on green living. This is a great article & really well done. I am adding a green focus to my blog – we live on the water near the gulf and am learning/converting to being more green. Would you consider re-posting this article as a guest poster on my blog?

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Toney October 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Great tips! Our family really tries to keep our kitchen non-toxic…even the soaps we use are important. We just got some good new induction cookware too. Thanks for sharing this great post, a lot of good information here.

Toney.

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Emily Stewart December 25, 2013 at 9:31 am

Good tips – I never thought about homemade detergent before!

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Will March 26, 2014 at 7:40 am

Great tips, thanks so much. I’ve started using glass instead of plastic containers, especially for water bottles

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