First of all, isn’t Mr. Clean an awesome corporate mascot? Like, I’m sure there are plenty of wacky mascots today, but they’re deliberately wacky. Although I just looked, and apparently Mr. Clean no longer wears an earring. Plus, the original Mr. Clean died this month at 92.
Anyway, In the same vein as my recent post about Asian cookbooks, I want to talk about cleaning supplies. Here’s what I use, and I’d be delighted to hear any upgrade recommendations.
**Orange Plus surface cleaner.** Works fine, smells great. Extremely cheap if you buy the concentrated refill.
**Windex.** None of the “natural” glass cleaners I’ve tried work as well on windows, mirrors, and especially chrome faucets.
**Method floor cleaner.** I bought this after Iris complained that Mop & Glo smelled terrible. It’s true. This stuff isn’t as shiny but smells infinitely better, and really, I just don’t care whether my kitchen floor is shiny.
**Swiffers.** The dry kind. Wasn’t this a great invention? Actually I use the store brand. I don’t use the mop or any other hardware.
**Magic Erasers.** Also the store brand. Nothing comes close for getting stains off walls. Also good for cleaning laptop computers, especially white ones.
**SOS All-Surface blue sponges.** I order these by the case. I know people say not to use sponges because you’re maintaining an unfriendly bacteria colony in your kitchen. Anyone have another idea for getting pots and pans clean? For general cleaning, I use large cellulose sponges that I buy at Walgreens, $4 for 30 sponges.
**SOS Tuffy.** The orange-and-yellow plastic scrubber pad. These things are so great.
**Planet Ultra dish soap.** See here.
**Ajax.** For the tub. It’s a harsh abrasive and will make the tub less shiny. Again, do I look like I care?
When my 409 Cleaner refill runs out, I’ll give the Orange Plus a try.
But, would you please give Bon Ami a try in place of Ajax?
What’s Bon Ami’s raison d’etre?
The Bon Ami might help you out with the pots and pans as well as the tub. It’s kind of abrasive, but not as much as the Ajax. (I think it’s just feldspar powder.) I use it all the time on stainless pans and the ceramic cooktop — it gets off stuff that the nylon scrubbies won’t. Plus, it is something like 99 cents for a jar that lasts forever. (No, I don’t have any affiliation with whoever makes the stuff…)
btw — sorry for the double post — but one way to solve the sponge/bacteria problem is to dampen the sponges and then microwave them for a minute.
The point of this is to get kill the germs with steam, so be sure let them cool before taking them out of the microwave! (Or use tongs.) Also, do not skip the dampening part — otherwise you could have a fire hazard. It’s very effective, though.
The best all naturall cleaner that I prefer is vinegar. I quite enjoy the smell of vinegar, but if you don’t it dissipates quickly. The best for cleaning glass/mirrors is vinegar and newsprint. Srsly.
I use bread tabs to scrape cooked-on food out of pots and pans. I mean, I’m sure there’s some kind of thing you can buy that’s practically the same thing, but I’m always amazed at how well they work.
Bon Ami is cool because it’s been around forever (19th century). It’s mentioned in old books. Ajax is a newcomer from 1947. Bon Ami has cuter packaging, too.
i do enjoy the baby chick on the bon ami…next time i need a new can of scrubby, i reckon i’ll go for bon ami.
dishes/pots & pans-wise…i use one of those scrubby brushes with a handle. the kind you get in that random cleany section, near the toity plungers, dustpans, and 4000 other kinds of brushes. i like the kind that has, essentially, a built-in bread tab on it, if you just flip the handle around. i feel like the bristles aren’t as likely to get all grody/grotty…they dry out better, and if i feel like it’s getting a little ocky, i’ll sprinkle some ajax (with bleach! i have a white enameled sink) in the kitchen sink, scrub at it with the brush, and wah-lah, sink + brush are sparkly clean!
i second the vinegar/newspaper window/mirror cleaner…though it can make your hands smudgy, and if you’re lazy (points at self), you’ll often just go with what’s already on a handy roll in the kitchen and in a spray bottle under the sink.
My mom puts her sponges in the dishwasher. I microwaved one of our lab’s sponges and the whole hallway smelled like hot mold for an hour.
chris, are you claiming the lab doesn’t usually smell like hot mold?
Dobie pads are the best dish cleaner by far. The little pad in the center holds the soapy water, and the gentle netting gets Evil Stuff off dishes and pots and stuff.
I took six of them with me when I went to live in Denmark for six months back in the early 80s. I only wish I’d taken more.
P.S. Bar Keeper’s Friend is pretty good stuff too.
For most surfaces, glass and chrome, I use microfiber cleaning cloths. No chemicals (and therefor no scent), works great and they last forever. I got mine at Bloodbath and Beyond.
I used Bar Keepers for ages – to get stainless pans clean, but heard that it was remarkably shit for the environment, so I switched to Bon Ami – which I really like. It takes more elbow work, but that is OK by me, and is far better for the planet.
I like a nylon sponge thingie, that I got at Trader Joes. I am sure they are cheaper elsewhere. Those are good, combined with bon ami. A microfiber cloth works well as a dishcloth, and they way fine.
I have used sponges for years, and never had any health problems from them.
For general house cleaning, I use a mix of vinegar, water, baking soda and tea tree oil. Seems to clean high-chairs wonderfully, along with bathrooms too. Cheap is chips, and no nasty chemicals.
Yeah, I use DII brand microfiber dishtowels. Love ’em. I will get some Bon Ami, I’m convinced.
For scrubbing pots and pans (and all other dishes), I use knit dishcloths and almost-dry baking soda to get off anything tough – I’ve been using it for years, and totally love it. I get the 8# bags from costco for something like $4. I think I can even get it cheaper if I were to go to a ranch supply place to get a larger bag. I use a cheese-sprinkle jar (like the kind they have a Pizza Hut, or at least they did when I was a kid) next to the sink to hold the baking soda, and just shake as much as I need in the pan when I need it. I can’t stand sponges, and once the dishcloths get nasty, I just pop them in the laundry with the towel load. Plus I can make more when I need them, and since I’m using scrap yarn, they’re pretty much free.
I totally wish I had a huge printout of this great artwork showing the family tree of all the classic food and other household corporate mascots:
As Amanda Hesser points out, for those who can’t see the tiny repro image of the family tree, “Mr. Clean and the Brawny Man are now partners and have adopted the Gerber Baby.”
I’d also just like to point out that I have tried to wean myself from petroleum-based kitchen sponges by buying and using some of those eco-sponges, and they totally suck in the scrubbing department.
I second on the microfiber cloths, magic erasers and cleaning windows with newspaper. And the lab smells pleasantly of warm yeast, thank you, not hot mold. Why am I so into this post on cleaning products?
Bon Ami is truly better (and less toxic) than Ajax. But the one with the best name, by far, is Out You Scum. I’ve only ever seen it at dollar stores.
okay, i had to contribute. of course, magic sponges! of course, method cleaning products! but one thing that i’ve recently become attached to in my kitchen is one of those dumb scrubby brushes with a long handle and a little suction cup on the end. i buy mine at ikea for 2 dollars or so. i use it to brush the nasty food off my dishes before i put them in the dishwasher, i use it to wash my son’s high chair tray, i use it to push food down the disposal. it’s one of those kitchen items that i never really knew i NEEDED until i got one as a stocking stuffer. now i use it all the time, more than i ever use my sponge. i use the sponge for the actual “washing” part- like, i put the soap on it and lather up the pots & pans, but for all the gooey/flaky/chunky crap, i use the brush.
also i’ve been skimming your blog this evening, it’s cute and funny. got here via serious eats. :)