Over the last twenty years, we have learned more and more about the dangers of conventional commercial cleaning products. The link between various cancers, headaches, asthma, and sinus problems and the chemicals found in most popular cleaning solutions has been well established. This new knowledge has lead to a movement towards cleaning house with all-natural and less toxic alternatives. Lucky for us, just about everything you need to keep your home sparkling clean is probably in your pantry. In fact, with the following list: baking soda, distilled white vinegar, borax, washing soda, lemon juice, olive oil, rubbing alcohol, cornmeal, cinnamon, cloves, and optionally your favorite essential oils, you can make every cleaning product you’ll probably ever need.
Following are ten easy recipes for your most common cleaning tasks.
Cheap Laundry Soap:
You can make gallons of laundry detergent simply and inexpensively by boiling two gallons of water on your stove. Buy a bar of Zote pink soap (found in the laundry aisle) and shave or grate it into small chunks. Mix the soap flakes with the hot water to create a sort of watery sludge. Then add one-half cup of Borax and one-half cup of Washing Soda (not to be confused with baking soda). Everything you need with the exception of the pot and the water should be found in the laundry section of your local store. If you have trouble finding the washing soda, it is Arm & Hammer brand and you should be able to find it at Stop and Shop or online at Amazon.com. Once you have mixed everything together, you have an effective and inexpensive laundry detergent. Use a half-cup for regular loads and 2/3 cup for large loads.
Better-than-Bleach Laundry Whitener:
Bleach is such a toxic and caustic chemical that I prefer not to use it if possible. In fact, just the fumes of bleach make my lungs sting and my eyes burn. Believe it or not, a cup of distilled white vinegar, when added to your laundry cycle, works just as well to whitener your clothes as bleach. Best yet, vinegar is much cheaper than bleach and won’t cause any harmful side effects that bleach can cause.
You don’t need to spend a couple of bucks per bottle to keep your windows clean. Mix one part white distilled vinegar with one part water and use with crumpled newspaper to clean your windows and prevent streaking.
Simply Silver Cleaner:
Silver polish is another one of those stinky products that make my eyes burn. Mix baking soda with a tiny bit of water, just enough to create a thick paste. Use an old toothbrush to apply this paste to the silver. Dampen a clean lint-free cloth and wipe clean. Your silver is guaranteed to shine like a magic mirror.
Volcanic Drain Cleaner:
Got a stinky drain? Well that volcano you made in fifth grade is also an excellent way to unclog and destinkify a drain. Pour a cup of baking soda (more for stubborn clogs or odors) and follow with a cup of white distilled vinegar. Enjoy the resulting fizz as your drain becomes clean, clear and fresh!
For those stubborn sticky greasy pots and pans, pour ¼ cup of lemon juice into the pan with some hot water and let sit for an hour or two. The grease should wipe away easily. For dishes, you can cut a lemon in half and sprinkle the cut section with baking soda and use to wash dishes. For a full sink of dishes, fill with warm water and add ¼ cup lemon juice to the water. Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and wash the dishes, replacing the baking soda as it gets used up.
Fantastic Furniture Polish:
Once again, we’re turning to lemon juice for it’s antibacterial properties and it’s wonderful smell. Add one part lemon juice to one part olive oil and apply to wood furniture with a clean lint-free cloth.
All-purpose Glass Cleaner:
For shining, streak-free mirrors and glass surfaces, combine a cup of white distilled vinegar with ½ cup rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Use lint-free cloths for wiping up the solution.
All Natural Air Freshener:
There is nothing better for air odors than baking! However if you don’t have the time or inclination to bake a pie, boil some water with cloves and cinnamon in it. The resulting smell will chase away any lingering odor that you find offensive.
Carefree Carpet Deodorizer:
Before vacuuming, sprinkle Borax and cornmeal on your carpet and let sit for at least an hour. The Borax cornmeal mixture will absorb odors and leave your rug smelling clean and fresh, all without steam cleaning!
Each of the mixtures from this article cost just pennies per use and will store for a long time. To save even more money, use the containers from your current commercial products to store your new all-natural cleaning products.
Jenn Carpenter is a mother of three who is working towards living the life of her dreams.
Photo. Ketut Subiyanto