The most economical way to give your home an eco-friendly cleaning is with natural do-it-yourself cleaning solutions you make with gentle, everyday household products. Chemical-laden cleaners create toxic fumes and may promote growth of bacteria resistant to antibacterial drugs(see References 1). Look no further than under the sink or in the pantry for these multitasking, economical, nontoxic ingredients that work alone or in combination to effectively give dirt the boot from every room.
The slightly acidic nature of white vinegar makes it effective at dissolving grease, soap scum and lime deposits from smooth surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom. Because it’s so gentle, vinegar is also safe to use on hardwood floors. Mix 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vinegar with water in a bucket or spray bottle and use it to clean everything from windows and mirrors to toilets and floors. Use undiluted vinegar to tackle tougher cleaning jobs. (See References 3)
Baking soda not only deodorizes, but also acts as a green cleaning and brightening abrasive that rivals traditional powdered cleansers. Sprinkle hard surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen with baking soda and rub into a paste with a wet cloth, then rinse and wipe dry with a clean cloth. To remove stains or clean the inside of a messy oven, allow the paste to set for several minutes before rinsing; to boost the abrasive action for tougher cleaning jobs, add kosher salt to the paste. Sprinkle baking soda onto carpets and vacuum to freshen fibers. (See References 2)
Lemon juice cuts grease, kills mold and mildew and leaves a streak-free shine on hard surfaces of all kinds. Combine lemon juice with other pantry staples such as vinegar or olive oil to make cleaning products that work harder, and to leave a fresh, natural scent behind when the job is done. (See References 6 )
Available in the laundry detergent aisle, sodium borate, or borax, has a long history as a nontoxic powdered laundry booster, but it’s also effective in homemade cleaning products to disinfect kitchen and bathroom surfaces, cookware and floors (see References 4). Remove stains from laundry before washing by rubbing a paste of dishwasher detergent and sodium borate into the fabric and rinsing (see References 1).
The bubbling action of hydrogen peroxide does wonders in lifting stubborn gunk on surfaces, but also works to fizz away perspiration stains on white fabrics. Keep a spray bottle filled with a peroxide and water mixture near the washing machine; spritz spots and rinse with clean water before starting a load. If you don’t have hydrogen peroxide in the house, or need to safely remove stains from colored fabrics, try club soda or diluted vinegar instead. (See References 5)
Blend 1 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of lemon juice in a spray bottle, mist onto a soft cloth and polish wood furniture the natural way. Polishing with olive oil moisturizes wood and imparts a lovely shine; lemon juice cleans the surface and leaves behind a fresh scent that beats out aerosol wood dusting sprays in the green department. (See References 3)
- The Daily Green; The Easiest Green Cleaning Recipes You Can Make at Home; Brian Clark Howard
- Eco-Cycle: Alternative Cleaners and Recipes
- Organized Home; Pantry Cleaners: Recipes for Homemade Cleaning Products; Cynthia Ewer
- Green Living Tips: Handy Borax Tips
- Mrs. Clean: Removing Perspiration & Sweat Stains
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Source Reduction Alternatives Around the Home
Melissa Lewis has worked as a freelance writer since 2004, gaining much of her experience by working in the marketing/PR field. She writes for various websites, specializing in the areas of marketing, home improvement, cooking and pets. Lewis studied English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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