Important Facts about Disinfectants!
Before attempting to disinfect a surface with your homemade kitchen disinfectant or sanitizer, you must remove all food particles, dirt and grime from the surface. That means thoroughly washing with soap and water. Once the disinfectant is sprayed on the surface, leave it for at least 20 minutes, or until the surface is completely dry.
Homemade and commercial disinfectants are not able to kill bacteria and germs in the air. That is impossible! Only non-porous surfaces can be successfully sanitized or disinfected.
Disinfectants do not kill all viruses and parasites. They must be washed away with soap and water, or even better prevented from entering your kitchen in the first place.
The most basic way to disinfect surfaces and food with a homemade disinfectant is to spray a mist of vinegar, and then a mist of 3% hydrogen peroxide, not necessarily in that order, onto select surfaces and right onto fresh food to kill 99% of bacteria. The order of the spray did not matter in terms of killing germs, but many authors have suggested using the vinegar first, and then the hydrogen peroxide (which has no smell) to rinse off the vinegar. It is a great solution, no pun intended, and kills two birds with one stone, no cliché intended!
How to make this easy:
Get some spray bottles, one of which should be dark and opaque as possible. Buy as large a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as you will use in say 3 months time. (When H2O2 gets old it looses its extra oxygen molecule and turns back into plain H2O!) Buy a large bottle of 5% distilled white vinegar made from grains, not petroleum. Most vinegar sold in the United States is made from grains, and it will say on the bottle.
Next, pour some of the peroxide into the dark bottle and label it. If you can’t find a suitably opaque bottle screw a spray attachment right onto the peroxide bottle itself. Now it’s already labeled! Pour some vinegar into the other bottle and label. That’s it! You are ready to go. You can use this on food, food packaging (non-porous) and kitchen surfaces, except please never, never use acidic substances on natural stone surfaces or grout!
Sanitizing Cutting Boards with Homemade Disinfectants
Disinfecting (sanitizing) your cutting board, especially necessary if you use a plastic board, (which is not really recommended!) is as simple as scrubbing it with course salt. Let the salt sit on the board for a little while as it creates a saline atmosphere that kills bacteria, then rinse. You are done. Or try this homemade recipe:
Homemade Cutting Board Sanitizer by Renee Loux
¼ cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
¼ cup white distilled vinegar
4 drops grapefruit seed extract, optional
4 drops essential oil of oregano, optional
1 TBLS baking soda
Mix the hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, grapefruit seed extract, and essential oil of oregano in a spray bottle or bowl. Sprinkle the baking soda on the cutting board. Spray the board with or dunk a clean sponge in the mixture and scrub the board. It should fizz up a storm. Wipe the board thoroughly with fresh water before using it.
How to Clean Your Food Before Cooking and Eating
Here are some homemade recipes for sanitizing your food. The first three are created by Renee Loux and published in her extremely well documented and cited book Easy Green Living. Recipes are presented in order of strength, weakest first, and bring in the vodka for the fourth!
BTW, the term disinfectant carries with it an assumption that germs will be killed. To label a product as disinfectant legally in the United States, it must be first a registered pesticide. That’s kind of intense. Most of the time, we don’t really need disinfecting like that. We just need proper sanitation, we need a sanitary kitchen in which to cook and eat. Only if we are living with an immune deficiency disorder or are on certain cancer treatments and the like do we really need to literally disinfect our home kitchens.
Fruit and Veggie Washing Tonic by Renee Loux
Note: don’t use this tonic on mushrooms
3 cups filtered water
3 TBLS white distilled or apple cider vinegar
2 TBLS baking soda
Mix the water, vinegar, and baking soda together in a spray bottle or bowl, depending on how you will use it.
Spray Tonic. Spray it on fruits and veggies. Scrub firm fruits and veggies like cucumbers, apples, and potatoes, especially if you plan to eat the skin (which generally contain bountiful nutrients). Rinse well and carry on.
Dunk Tonic. Dunk, swish, and scrub the produce as desired. Put veggies in a colander or strainer that fits inside the bowl for easy draining and to allow you to use the same batch of tonic multiple times.
Extra Strength Homemade Lemon Peel Produce Wash by Renee Loux
Yield about 1 quart
4 cups filtered water
3 TBLS white vinegar
2 TBLS Homemade Lemon Peel Concentrate (next recipe)
2 tsp. baking soda
4 drops grapefruit seed extract
Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly until the baking soda has dissolved. Pour it in a spray bottle for spritzing on fruits and veggies or in a bowl for dunking. Rinse the produce before carrying on.
Homemade Lemon Peel Concentrate and Produce Wash by Renee Loux
Yield 1 cup, enough for 1 gallon diluted
4 organic lemons
1 cup Vodka
Scrub the lemons with water. Peel away the yellow part of the skin (which cooks call zest) and chop it finely. Try not to include any of the white pith because it’s bitter (especially if you plan to bake with the extract). Place the chopped peel in a freshly washed glass jar and cover it with the vodka. Cap the jar tightly and let it stand for 2 weeks. Strain out the solids before using the concentrate.
To make the produce wash, dilute 2 TBLS of concentrate in each quart of water. Put in a spray bottle for spritzing or a bowl for dunking. Rinse the produce after the wash.
Store the concentrate in a tightly capped jar, away from direct light and at room temperature.
Recipes for Cleaning Kitchen Surfaces
Here is a recipe similar to the Lemon Peel Concentrate from Readers Digest book Homemade. It is not so refined as the Lemon Peel Concentrate recipe above because it is not designed to be used on food. It is a totally safe kitchen cleaner safe to use around food, just not on food. Don’t use this on your food as you might the formulas above.
Peel from 1 orange, grapefruit, lemon, or lime
3 cups white vinegar
1 clean quart jar with lid
1 clean 32 oz. spray bottle
Combine the citrus peel and vinegar in the quart jar. Fasten the lid on the jar and store the mixture in a cupboard for two weeks, giving it an occasional shake. Remove the peel from the jar, strain the vinegar, and return it to the jar. To use as a spray cleaner. Our 1 cup of citrus vinegar in the spray bottle and fill with water. To clean linoleum floors, add 1 cup citrus vinegar to 2 gallons water.
I found another interesting take on a citrus-based kitchen surface cleaner from Donna Smallins book Cleaning Plain & Simple. She credits this recipe to Pure Liquid Gold. Again, this formula is safe to around food and food preparation surfaces but no directly on food.
Natural Disinfectant Cleaner
Mix 15 drops of grapefruit seed extract with 2 cups of warm water (or use 1 tsp. per gallon of water). Pour the solution into a spray bottle. Double the amount of grapefruit seed extract to create a super-strength cleaner for more extreme jobs. Grapefruit seed extract also whitens [porcelain] sinks, tubs, and tiles.
Super strength formula made with grapefruit seed extract and water?! We really don’t need you and your extra strength toxic ammonia Mr. Clean!