Maintaining your kitchen and bathroom

Issue 38 Words: Bridget Gardner Photography: Melanie Faith Dove

You don’t need to resort to toxic products to maintain the surfaces in your home.

It seems that the more love and money we pour into our beautiful homes, the higher our expectations are that we should keep them looking like the day they were built. Yet if there was ever a myth about modern kitchen and bathroom surfaces, it would be that they are easy to maintain.

Modern kitchen and bathroom surfaces generally fall into one of two categories: shiny, glazed and impervious surfaces that are easy to wipe clean but easily scratched and show every mark and smear; or natural, unsealed and textured surfaces that are harder to clean and easily stained, but generally more forgiving of surface dirt.
While the approach to cleaning these surfaces is very different, you don’t need two sets of cleaning products if you follow the three P’s of green cleaning: prevention, preparation and process.

Prevention

Prevention really is the best cure for cleaning. Surfaces are most easily damaged via stains, scrubbing stuck-on grime, grit under shoes and furniture, and debris in your cleaning cloth. To prevent these problems, get into the habit of wiping and sweeping away messes as they occur. You then only need a full clean once a fortnight or before guests arrive!

For example, you can protect the surface and make cleaning easier, by applying a waxy coating (such as carnauba wax) to your stainless steel appliances and splashbacks and regularly oil wooden benches. After every shower, wiping the water from the glass and tiles using a squeegee and from tap fittings with a microfibre glass cloth, will prevent mould and scale build-up.

Preparation

Investing in some quality equipment has three advantages: quality lasts longer, works better and can often replace the need for chemicals. Your shopping list could include: Quality microfibre cloths and mop; window squeegee; spray bottles; vacuum cleaners with HEPA filter; and steam cleaning equipment (especially if you have mould problems).
You also need plenty of recycled rags, toothbrushes and if possible flannelette nappies. Prevention strategies will only work if your cleaning tools are handy.

Process

If the soiling is fresh, most surfaces can be cleaned with either microfibre and water, or a cloth or mop with a spot of detergent (or soap) in warm water. The cleaning process then depends on the surface.

Shiny surfaces: clean with a clean cloth then dry the surface using a clean flannelette rag or microfibre cloth, or a squeegee on windows, mirrors and shower glass.

Textured surfaces: use a tool that can get into the grooves, such as a toothbrush or a soft dishwashing brush, and lightly scrub in a circular motion.

Wooden surfaces: remove all dry dust first, then wipe with a clean damp cloth or mop.

Lacquered wood: add a dash of vinegar to the water to help it shine but make sure the cloth is damp, not wet.

Oiled wooden surfaces: clean with an oil-based product, such as the original oil, a mix of olive oil (2/3) and lemon juice (1/3), or grated soap in warm water, which leaves a waxy layer.

Follow my three P’s of green cleaning and you can enjoy your beautiful sustainable home for years to come.

Bridget Gardner is green cleaning specialist and director of Fresh Green Clean

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Cover of Issue 38
You can read more about Maintaining your kitchen and bathroom in Issue 38 of Sanctuary magazine.

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Sanctuary: modern green homes is Australia’s premier magazine dedicated to sustainable home design. More...

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