One of the things we noticed right away when my husband and I arrived in Madison, WI, was that the water seems to have quite a bit of calcium in it. Calcium deposits build up on the taps and, when we boil water, on our pots.
This happens a lot because we boil our water, then filter it. We boil it because, well, the water in Madison kind of weirds us out due to the buildup. I've read up on it a lot and they say that it's safe to drink, but boiling can't hurt, right?
It's not just the buildup that can be a problem, but sometimes when something gets burnt or a little stuck on the pot it can be a real nuisance to scrub off.
So I use a method that my German Omi used to use for cleaning other things (and one that's similar to the one I use to Naturally Clean a Coffee Pot), and all it requires is something really cheap that most of us regularly in our kitchens. And it's as simple as boiling a pot of water. No SOS pads or frustrating, futile scrubbing required. AND it won't damage your pot.
And all I need to give it a good clean (aside from my usual soap and water wash) is two simple ingredients:
White Vinegar & Water
That's it. To clean off the mineral buildup, or to get rid of cook on food, I pour about 1/2 cup plain white vinegar into the pot, then add another cup or two of water.
Put a tight fitting lid on the pot, bring it to a boil, reduce to simmer for 2 or 3 minutes to let the steam do most of the work for you. The vinegar and water will steam up the sides and help to loosen most of the minerals and gunk.
From here, I put on some oven mitts and hold the pot over the kitchen. I swish the vinegar solution around and up the sides a few times, and, for stubborn stains, I use a scrub brush to do a quick swipe (if you use a dish cloth you'll probably burn your hands, so a long handled brush is best).
Then rinse and be done!
As you can see above, near the top of the pot I could have scrubbed a little bit more, but was a little lazy :)
I also like to use vinegar as a cleaner because chemical cleaners have been shown to cause allergic reactions and contribute to higher rates of food allergies.
If you're interested in learning more about allergies and their potential causes, you can read more about it in my book Living with Oral Allergy Syndrome: A Gluten and Meat-Free Cookbook for Wheat, Soy, Nut, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Allergies (you can read the first 22 pages on my blog, or you can Order from Amazon.com here
Do you use natural cleaners? If so, what do you use?