After years of trying to clean those “hard to clean” kitchen items, I’ve found that it’s really not the technique but the tools that make the task easier.  Things like cast iron or wooden cutting boards have been around for hundreds of years but just recently technology has caught up to make them easier to clean.  Let’s look at some simple methods of cleaning these hard-to-clean items and then we will look at some new tools that make cleaning them very simple.

Cast iron – One thing to remember when cleaning cast iron is that it is a very porous metal. If you use any type of soap on cast iron, it will absorb it and then leech it back into your food when cooking. One simple way of cleaning your cast iron without soap is to use salt to give it a good scrub. The salt used with a sponge will work to remove any built-up food on the pan. And it will rinse right off the pan and leave it free from chemicals.

A new alternative for cleaning cast iron is a product called CM Scrubber. It’s made of chain mail – which is the same technology used in the Middle Ages to make armor.  This simple chain mail scrubber is made of woven metal links that work to scrub the cast iron without chemicals. All you do is use the metal scrubber on the pan and rinse.  It’s truly amazing how easy it makes it to clean your cast iron pans.

Wooden cutting boards – Wooden cutting boards are also very porous, but research has shown that the wood actually works to kill bacteria left on the wood. This does not mean we don’t have to clean the wood after using it. A simple solution to clean a wooden cutting board is to cut a lemon in half and them dip the open end of the lemon into some table salt. Use the lemon and work the salt over the wood to clean and disinfect the cutting board. The acid in the lemon along with the scrubbing action of the salt will clean the cutting board without using harsh chemicals.

A cool tool to use on the cutting board is called a Skoy Scrubber.  It’s made in Germany and is aggressive enough to scrub the wood without hurting it.  If you use this scrubber you don’t need to use any chemicals to clean the cutting board.

Fine china – If you have very expensive china and don’t trust your dishwasher to clean it without damage, there are some great cloths and sponges that will work to clean them gently and completely. My favorite tool is called a Skoy cloth.  It’s a cross between a paper towel and a sponge.  These cloths are made in Germany, just like the Skoy Scrubs, from a by-product of paper. They are strong, yet gentle and are perfect for washing your fine china.

Expensive crystal – To avoid having film and spots on your fine crystal I recommend washing them by hand. You can use the Skoy cloth and a gentle dish soap to wash them and then rinse with warm water. The best tool to dry the glass is a fine woven microfiber cloth. Don’t let the crystal air dry as that’s where you get spots. Instead rinse and then try right away with the microfiber cloth.

Tall thin vases – You can wash vases in the bottom drawer of a dishwasher but here is always that white film in the bottom of the vase that just won’t come off.  A simple trick it to sprinkle table salt into the bottom and drop in some ice chips. The salt will melt into the ice and turn into a scrubber.  Swish the salt/ice combination around for a few minutes then rinse with hot water.  The salt will scrub away all the film.

For more information from DIY green cleaning expert Leslie Reichert, visit greencleaningcoach.com