Picture your cleaning supplies. I bet at least one, if not many are synthetic based. It’s okay--you’re not alone. Some of mine are too. The average household has close to 60 synthetic chemical products laying around—from detergent to bleach to dishwashing liquid. But how many of those chemicals end up in the water? How many in the air we breathe every day? More than we realize. So how can we make not only our house, but our air, water, and land a little bit cleaner? With things you probably already have in your pantry.
Did you know you can do a lot of your cleaning with just baking soda, vinegar, mild dish soap and water? Really. From the kitchen to the bathroom to the carpets, you can clean a lot with very little.
• All-purpose cleaner = 2 tablespoons mild dish soap + 2 cups water
• Window cleaner = 1 part white distilled vinegar + 1 part hot water + a few drops of mild dish soap
- Spray on glass surfaces and wipe with old newspaper for a streak free shine
• Oven cleaner = baking soda + enough water to create a paste
- Spread the paste onto the floor of your oven, let stand overnight, and scrape the dried bits off with a spatula.
• Toilet bowl cleaner = ½ cup white vinegar
- Let stand for a few minutes, then scrub with a toilet brush and flush.
• Drain cleaner = ½ cup baking soda + ½ cup vinegar
- Pour baking soda, followed by vinegar and cover with a rag. Let stand for a few minutes, then flush with hot water.
• Carpet deodorizer = baking soda
- Sprinkle over your carpets, allow to stand for 15 minutes, then vacuum.
• Wood furniture cleaner = 1 teaspoon olive oil + ½ cup white vinegar
- Use a bit more vinegar if your wood needs a good cleaning, use a bit more oil if it just needs a good polish.
• Floor cleaner = Warm water + a damp mop
- For really dirty floors = 1/8 cup mild plant based soap + 1/8 cup vinegar + 1 gallon water
- For ceramic and stone floors = ¼ cup vinegar + 1 gallon water
• Soap scum remover = vinegar
- Rinse thoroughly if using on your bathroom tiles or fixtures. It can corrode it after awhile. A bit costlier alternative is to use 2 drops of tea tree oil + 1 cup of water. It may cost a little bit more, but it’s better than potentially replacing your tiles! You can also use just an all purpose cleaner as well, but it might take a bit more scrubbing!
• Burnt food on pots and pans = Baking soda + water
- Let soak overnight, then bring to a boil. Those burnt on pieces will just float right off!
- For greasy pans, try rubbing gently with a salt + water paste. This also works to clean your wooden cutting boards as well.
Put together a cleaning kit of all purpose cleaner, window cleaner, a mild abrasive (such Bon Ami), a box of baking soda, some rubber gloves, some scrub brushes, and old cloth towels. Look for reusable spray bottles in the cleaning aisle (usually near the mops) or sometimes even in the travel section. Don’t forget to label them so you don’t get them mixed up! Now you’re ready to tackle any mess!
For messes that you don’t think simple ingredients will take care of, look for plant based “green” commercial cleaners. These are popping up all over the place now from brands like Seventh Generation, Method, Mrs. Meyers, and even Clorox with their Green Works line (which I’ve used and really like), so they should be readily available in your local grocery stores.
While you’re reducing the chemicals in your cleaning, reduce the paper too. Ditch the paper towels and use cloth instead. Even for small spills. Keep a stack on hand so when one gets dirty, you can throw it in the washer and grab a clean one!
• I usually look for small hand sized cloths in the dollar section at Target.
• Instead of throwing out that holey old t-shirt, put it to a new use, ripping it up for rags.
• If you’re like me, you probably have a stack of lonely socks that are missing their mates hanging out in your laundry room. Turn them into dust clothes! Just stick them over your hand, and wipe away!
Now who wants to come over and clean my house for me?
Tomorrow is Earth Day! That means more green tips and my very first Giveaway!! I’m excited! Surely you’ll check back, right?
Danae writes about her baking adventures on The Busty Baker.
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