After a long winter, it’s time for spring-cleaning. Unfortunately, the ever-expanding arsenal of home cleaning products now includes several dangerous weapons, loaded with strong, artificial colors and fragrances and harsh cleansing agents like bleach, ammonia and acids. These chemicals can produce indoor air pollution by off-gassing toxic fumes that can irritate eyes and lungs. (Children and pets are most at risk.) Many cleaners also contain unnecessary antibacterial agents (pesticides, technically), that can actually make bacteria stronger, and more resistant to antibacterial drugs.
And commercial cleansers cost a lot. So make your own! Even the biggest messes and toughest stains can be attacked effectively with baking soda, borax, lemon juice and other simple ingredients.
The room where food is prepared, stored and often enjoyed requires constant vigilance. Splatters, spills and errant crumbs can build up and collect out of sight, encouraging harmful bacteria.
Baking Soda and Water: Reclaim counters by sprinkling with baking soda, then scrubbing with a damp cloth or sponge. If you have stains, knead the baking soda and water into a paste and let set for a while before you remove. This method also works great for stainless steel sinks, cutting boards, containers, refrigerators, oven tops and more.
Kosher Salt and Water: If you need a tougher abrasive sprinkle on kosher salt, and scrub with a wet cloth or sponge.
Natural Disinfectant: To knock out germs without strong products, mix 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil. Spray or rub on countertops and other kitchen surfaces.
Keep your bathrooms and kitchen tile spotless and hygienic with these natural cleansers:
Baking Soda and Water: Dust surfaces with baking soda, then scrub with a moist sponge or cloth. If you have tougher grime, sprinkle on some kosher salt, and work up some elbow grease.
Lemon Juice or Vinegar: Got stains, mildew or grease streaks? Spray or douse with lemon juice or vinegar. Let sit a few minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush.
Disinfectant: Instead of bleach, make your own disinfectant by mixing 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil.
Instead of those harsh-smelling sprays, try this highly effective, simple solution for windows and mirrors:
White Vinegar, Water and Newspaper: Mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with a gallon of water, and dispense into a used spray bottle. Squirt on, then scrub with newspaper, not paper towels, which cause streaking.
If you’re out of vinegar or don’t like its smell, you can substitute undiluted lemon juice or club soda.
Hardwood floors are beautiful, hygienic, long lasting and add value to your home. They are easy to vacuum, but don’t do well with wet mopping. So how do you restore their natural glow without roughing them up?
Vinegar: Whip up a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar and 30 ounces of warm water. Put in a recycled spray bottle, then spray on a cotton rag or towel until lightly damp. Then mop your floors, scrubbing away any grime.