Spring Clean Your Kitchen Your Body Will Thank You

Health + Fitness

Carolyn Scott, "The Healthy Voyager"

By Carolyn “The Healthy Voyager” Scott

Spring is upon us, and that means it’s time for spring-cleaning: Out with the old to make room for the new. And that applies to your kitchen, too. You might be surprised to learn that many of the cooking items you use on a daily basis could be harming your health and rendering your nutritious foods useless.

Here are the 5 kitchen items that you should throw out this year:

  • Non-stick pots & pans: Non-stick surfaces like Teflon are known to leach chemicals when heated. In fact, Dupont has admitted that when a non-stick surface is heated beyond a certain level, the fumes can kill birds and create a sickness in humans they call Polymer Fume Fever, producing symptoms resembling a cold. So don’t wait until the bottoms of your pans are chipping to trash them, start replacing your most used pieces as soon as possible. REPLACE WITH:  Ceramic, stainless steel, cast iron, and/or glass. Be sure there are no toxic paints or coatings.
  • Plastic containers: When you add hot foods to plastic storage containers, the heat draws toxins from the containers, which then mix with your food. This is why you should never leave plastic water bottles in the car, use plastic to store hot food, or worse, microwave food in plastic containers. Don’t let chemicals be the secret ingredient in your dishes. REPLACE WITH:  Ceramic, stainless steel or glass
  • Dish towels & sponges: Bacteria primarily breeds in cool, damp places -- like sponges and dishtowels. We use these every day to clean up our counters and plates, but if not taken care of properly, they do us more harm than good.  Keep your cleaning aids at their best by wringing them out to release excess water after every use, allowing them to air out and dry thoroughly, washing them regularly, and throwing them away after 2 weeks to a month.
  • Overcrowded refrigerators & freezers: Clutter is never a good thing, and that goes for refrigerators and freezers, too.  When overfilled, there isn’t enough room for air to circulate properly, and decomposition begins. This can also cause bacteria and mold to grow between containers and on surfaces. Additionally, many foods will take on these odors, and you’ll most likely throw them away, wasting quite a bit of cash. In freezers, overcrowding can cause freezer burn, and if ingested, can make you sick. From now on, toss foods as soon as they expire; don’t keep items you don’t use, and properly pack, consolidate and label your foods with the packing date, when possible.  Save your food and your money!
  • Microwaves: Anything that heats your food lightning fast and is cool to the touch can’t be good for you.  Microwaves are actually transforming the chemical makeup of your foods on a cellular level while they heat. Foods are less crispy and more rubbery when nuked because the waves have mutated them, causing them to lose texture and taste, as well as their nutrients. REPLACE WITH:  Convection oven and/or toaster oven

While a full kitchen overhaul may be costly, if you focus on the items you use most frequently, you can invest in your health while minimizing any financial outlays.

For more information, product recommendations and where to purchase, visit

Carolyn Scott is the executive producer, creator, host and writer of The Healthy Voyager brand. Her web series, radio show, site, blog and social network show you how to live, and travel, healthy & green.

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  • Thanks for sharing your ideas; good tips however not very well supported. Throwing things out...Hummm; I need suggestions, ideas, supporting information that helps me improve how I buy and use products. Once a week I take my sponges, scrubbing pads and put them in a pillow, tie then up and throw them in the washer in a low cycle with cold water; this keeps them clean and sanitized and they last longer then two weeks. In between this time I do as you say wring them out to keep them as dry as possible. As for Non stick pans, if you over heat your information is true however if you use the product as instructed you will be OK. I to would suggest replacing pans that are peeling; don’t want those pieces of Non-stick coating in your food. As for expiration dates, most product have a longer use date, date on products are sale by dates. Microwave, I have to say that perhaps you are again over heating, if used properly food cooked in a microwave can be delicious and tender. I find that learning how your microwave works and cooking in smaller time settings and lower temps works a lot better and can save you time in the kitchen. If your food is like rubber or dry you are indeed overheating/cooking. Plastic containers are in many ways not good however we live in a world of plastic so we have to deal with it. I will not put plastic in my microwave, it just not a healthy container to heat or cook with. It is much better to use them for short term storage. Using microwave safe container is a much better way to go; such as you have suggested. Thanks for the information on refrigerators & freezers, I do have to agree with you. I have found that if I rotate my save leftover’s and only keep them for a couple of days instead of waiting for someone to eat them does help the odor in my fridge and I don’t have all those smelly containers to deal with. Well this is all just my opinion and not in any way intended to insult your way of thinking.
    here are a few sites I have used for information.

    Posted by Connie, 19 March 2010.

  • Mostly great tips, except the microwave one. It would have been more convincing with some source information. I don't know if Carolyn overcooks her food, but mine isn't rubber or devoid of taste. Even when I use it (mostly) to reheat food. Sorry that one sounds like an old/new wive's tale.
    But thanks for the reminders on the other ones!

    Posted by DebNDallas, 15 March 2010.

  • great tips for the kitchen

    Posted by jaymatayl, 15 March 2010.

  • Pots, plastics, sponges, freezers, no problem but I have always wondered about microwaves and Carolyn has confirmed, we are feeding toxins to our families and ourselves.

    Posted by Born Perfect, 15 March 2010.

  • Food for thought -- or rather, thought for food (preparation). No more plastic in the micro to heat our food. Thanks!

    Posted by Kathleen Hurty, 15 March 2010.

  • NO microwave!? Don't know if I could do that one...

    Posted by Tonight10, 15 March 2010.