6 Strangely effective natural cleaners

Sometimes the most effective — and least expensive — household cleaners are items that you probably already have stocked in your pantry or closet. Even though they were probably purchased for a completely different purpose, these household staples can easily be integrated into your green cleaning arsenal.

Man and woman cleaning with eco-friendly products

As more and more scary studies come out about the potential health dangers that may be lurking in our household cleaners, it’s no wonder that the green cleaning product market is booming. But in some cases we have unlikely green cleaners already in our pantry. Here are six common household staples that may just double as powerful natural cleaners.

Rice to clean the inside of thin-necked bottles and vases

While those irregularly shaped bottles and vases are often beautiful to look at, it can be challenging to clean them. Pour a half-cup of rice and a cup of water into the bottle, cover (with a lid or your hand) and shake! The rice grains will act as a brush and scrub off any unwanted particles from the inside of those hard-to-clean bottles.

Lemon sliceLemon juice to clean copper-bottom pots

Copper pots, or pots with copper bottoms, are some of the most sought-after cookware. They conduct heat well and evenly, are beautiful to look at and can literally last for generations. The downside is they tarnish easily. For an easy and nontoxic way to keep those copper pots sparkling, cut a lemon in half and sprinkle the cut side with salt. Rub the copper with the lemon and salt, reapplying salt as necessary, until all the tarnish is gone.

Baking soda to buff up a stainless steel sink

Baking soda has a lot of uses around the house besides serving as a baking ingredient. Many of us keep a box in our refrigerator or sprinkle it in litter boxes to absorb smells. But the possibilities for baking soda don’t stop there – it also is effective at polishing stainless steel. If you have a stainless steel sink, sprinkle a damp cloth with baking soda and rub the surface in a circular motion.

White vinegar to clean wood cutting boards

Wood cutting boards are not as straightforward to care for as plastic or glass cutting boards. Since wooden cutting boards can split or crack if they are exposed to high heat or if they are submerged in water, it is not recommended to clean them in the dishwasher or in the kitchen sink. To sanitize your wood board, wipe it down with undiluted white vinegar after each use. The acetic acid in white vinegar is effective at killing E. coli, salmonella and other harmful bacteria.

Cornstarch to remove stains from carpets

To naturally clean or deodorize your carpet, sprinkle cornstarch over the area. Allow it to sit for a couple of minutes and then vacuum it up. For more troublesome stains, add just enough water to cornstarch to make a paste. Rub the paste onto the carpet in a circular motion and let it sit until it hardens. Brush off the dried residue and vacuum it up.

Rubbing alcohol to remove marker stains from finished hardwood floors

Does your kid’s artistic creativity sometimes result in permanent marker stains everywhere but the coloring book? If the marks have found their way onto your hardwood floors, try rubbing the spot with a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol. And of course, as with any other stain, the sooner you get to it after the artist has left his mark, the better.

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Learn how to make 442 oz of laundry detergent for $1.47 in just 15 minutes!

More green cleaning tips

Cleaning with vinegar
Make your own eco-friendly cleaning products
Slowly Going Green: Making the cleaning product switch


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