There are plenty of firms that take a scorched-earth approach to the kitchen, but Zen Home will achieve the same level of bacteria-free purity without compromising the environment. As part of its spring-cleaning package ($60 an hour, four-hour minimum; 212-462-2566), two of its housecleaners will attack your kitchen with tea-tree and lavender oils, both natural disinfectants, plus Bon Ami Polishing Cleanser, made from mineral abrasives and biodegradable detergent. You?ll need to provide a broom, a sponge mop (?Swiffers are flimsy and inflexible and the hardest thing to work with!” says Zen Home owner Deanna Hains), a dustpan, a vacuum, and a step stool. Zen Home will empty, clean, and reorganize your cabinets and refrigerator, and scrub down the stove with a mix of nontoxic, sweet-smelling oils and Bon Ami. Products like Easy-Off are faster†but dangerous, as far as Hains is concerned. ?You have to weigh your options,” she says.
According to Julie Edelman, author of The Accidental Housewife: How to Overcome Housekeeping Hysteria One Task at a Time (Ballantine Books, May 30), a top-to-bottom kitchen-clean takes two to four hours. Assemble your cleaning supplies so they?re in arm?s reach; Edelman suggests storing everything in a plastic bin or bucket so it?s easier to move around. Those should include disinfectant wipes, Comet, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, a lemon, baking soda, white vinegar, eggshells, rubber gloves, newspaper, paper towels, a vacuum, and a mop.
Work from the top down. Take everything out of the cabinets, put it on the counter, and wipe the interior with a disinfectant wipe or a cotton cloth. Use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for greasy smudges on the outside of the cabinet, the refrigerator door, backsplash tiles, and stove tops. Use a heavy-duty cleanser like Ajax or Comet on the sink. To keep garbage-disposal blades sharp, drop in a broken eggshell or ice cubes made from vinegar (a natural deodorant), and run the disposal for a minute. Use newspaper around faucets to dry and shine them. ?It?s lint-free and good for chrome,” she says. Put more newspaper under the bag in the trash can to absorb leaks and odors.
Edelman isn?t a big fan of Easy-Off for electric ovens, either. ?It gets on the rods and doesn?t really come off.” She lines hers with aluminum foil. To get the space between the stove and counter, soak a few paper towels with cleaner, wrap it around a broom handle, and run it up and down (you might have to repeat this a few times).
The fridge is tough; you might want to do it on a different day. Take out every item, tossing the superannuated ones, and wipe down shelves and produce bins with an eco-friendly product like Seventh Generation?s Natural Citrus Kitchen Cleaner. Don?t forget an open container of baking soda when you put everything back. Finish by washing the floor with a cleanser like Mop & Glo.
Mop & Glo … $11.48
at The Home Depot (40 W. 23 St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-929-9571)
Seventh Generation Natural Citrus Kitchen Cleaner … $4.99
at LifeThyme (410 Sixth Ave., nr. 8th St.; 212-420-9099)
Comet … $1.28
at The Home Depot
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser … $6.97 for a package of 4
at The Home Depot
Quickie Professional Scrub-A-Mop … $15.97
at The Home Depot
Rubber gloves … $2.09
at Duane Reade ( duanereade.com for various locations)
Use a double-headed brush or stiff toothbrush to dig into the grooves of the rubber seal around the refrigerator.