Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Skip to main content

Women's Health Blog

Toxic Thursdays: Spring Cleaning

I am dreaming of spring and one thing I actually love about the weather warming up, is opening the windows and cleaning out the dust. However, there are a few areas that I hate to clean – we all have them, right?

When is the last time you cleaned your refrigerator? How about the inside of your oven? When is the last time you remember cleaning the tops of your cupboards?

These are all things I dread cleaning. They are generally gross by the time I get to them. And who really wants to empty the refrigerator to clean all those shelves and drawers?

Did you know that spills in the refrigerator could lead to salmonella? Foods that are going bad can also lead to bad smells that could contaminate other foods. You might want to take a peek in that fridge and see what’s going on – every week is probably a good way to remember to do it.

Start by pitching old food or food that is going bad. Then organize your condiments – I have a lot of these – to determine which are nearly empty and could be replaced. Next, get a cloth and your vinegar and water spray and go to town wiping down each shelf. If there are sticky areas, you might need to get a scrub sponge. The drawers might be easiest to clean in the sink. Don’t neglect the door shelves – that is where I have found the sticky spots!

Once you have finished with the inside, make sure to give the door handle a good wipe with the vinegar spray. It is cold and flu season after all!


The Oven of Disgrace

Onto– the oven. Yes, there are oven sprays out there. Many of them are extremely toxic. And, yes, many ovens are self-cleaning, but that uses high heat that can drive up your electricity bills or set off the smoke detectors.

First remove the wire racks. These can be scrubbed in the sink or in some cases, they may fit in the dishwasher.

Next, step up to the oven and take a hard look inside. You’re going to be so happy when it’s clean!

Baking soda is key here. Create a baking soda paste by mixing baking soda with a little water. It should be very sticky. If it is too syrupy, add more baking soda until you get a nice paste.

Then smear that paste all over the worst spots in your oven. Or, all over the oven if it is that bad. Close the oven door and let it sit overnight.

Once you are ready to scrub, get your vinegar spray. For this you can use straight vinegar or you can use a vinegar and water mix. Have a scrub sponge or a scrub brush. Spray the vinegar and watch the baking soda foam a bit and then attack it with some scrubbing muscles. I used a long-handled scrub brush to reach those back areas.

After it is all scrubbed, use a damp cloth to clean it all out. I let the oven door sit ajar for a few hours so it could air out. And, you’re all set!


The Sweater That Lives Up High

Steal your nerves. Get the step ladder and climb up to view the top of your kitchen cupboards. If you are lucky – so lucky – you have cupboards that go all the way to the ceiling and there is nothing for you to clean. So, you can sign off and go enjoy a hot cocoa or something while the rest of us are horrified by … the sweater that lives on the tops of our cupboards.

If you have pets – or even if you don’t – there is an odd atmospheric phenomena that occurs with hair. It floats, it wafts, and apparently, it gathers on the tops of cupboards. It then lives there and knits itself into a fine sweater – finer than all the cashmere in the world. Although, I doubt you could sell it for any amount of money!

Why does this happen? How does the hair get so much trajectory that it ends up way up here?

Now, hopefully you don’t have a ton of knick knacks up on these cupboards. If you do, each of those once adorable cherubs is going to have be cleaned individually. I hope they are dishwasher safe. This is the reason that anything living on the top of my cupboards much be dishwasher safe. Or disposable. Because I am not all about cleaning the intricate weave of an expensive basket.

So, start by removing any item that is up there. This is where a friend, spouse, or older child comes in handy – hand them each item and have them start cleaning down below while you tackle what’s up high. Once the items are removed, take an assessment. If it has been awhile – or forever – since cleaning the cupboards, you may want to start with a Dust-buster or similar small handheld vacuum.

After the loose bits of sweater are removed, now you can get down to scrubbing. A little soapy water and a scrub sponge are one way to go. If it is sticky, you may want to add some vinegar to the water. If your cupboards are really fancy and you worry about using water, you may want to go straight to a wood spray.

My cupboards are cheap and therefore are basically pressed plywood on top. This is THE WORST. This means all those rough areas where the plywood wasn’t quite formed is the prime area for bits of sweater to set up camp and grab hold. Caution, be careful when angrily scrubbing because this could lead to cuts or splinters, which only points to the fact that cupboard manufacturers should all be kicked off the island.

Scrub and pick off the sweater to the best of your ability. When you become totally exhausted and realize you have only done about half of the tops of the cupboard, take a break. Maybe get a glass of wine. Then resume … or don’t … it’s your cupboard sweater and no one will know. It’s not like your house guests climb up there to inspect, right?

Happy cleaning! What are some of your secret cleaning tips? Share with us in the comments!


*You may have noticed the blog name has changed - we have updated this regular blog to be called Be Real. On the Be Real blog you can expect healthy living topics from the front lines of parenting and family life! Enjoy!

Rachel Mavity

Rachel Mavity

Rachel Mavity is the Digital Communications Coordinator with Beebe Healthcare's Marketing and Communications Department. On Toxic Thursdays, she writes about saving the earth and ways to reduce our footprint. She also now blogs over at Be Real on this site.