Spring, for many people, means spring cleaning. But instead of buying disinfectants, window cleaners, furniture polish and other cleaning agents, why not make your own?
Chances are you already have most of the necessary ingredients. They’re easy to make, easy to use, and most importantly, safer products for your home.
Tub & tile cleaner
• Prevention. Add two tablespoons baking soda to your bath water and you won’t have to worry about ring-around-the-tub. Your bath water will be soft, too.
• Baking Soda. Sprinkle baking soda as you would scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge. Rinse thoroughly.
• Vinegar and Baking Soda. To remove film buildup on bathtubs, apply full-strength vinegar to a sponge and wipe. Next, use baking soda as you would scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
• To clean grout, put three cups baking soda into a medium-sized bowl and add one cup warm water. Mix into a smooth paste and scrub into grout with a sponge or toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and dispose of leftover paste when finished.
• Pour 1/4 cup baking soda and one cup vinegar into a strong, sandwich-sized plastic bag and tie it onto and over a scummy shower head. Let the bubbling brew set for an hour. Remove the bag, then turn on the water. Hard water build-up will be gone and your shower head will sparkle again.
• Clean shower stall doors by first spraying them with clear vinegar. Let it set for a few minutes, then scour with a sponge sprinkled with baking soda. Rinse and wipe or squeegee dry.
• Vinegar. To remove no-slip decals from the bathtub, saturate a cloth or sponge and squeeze hot vinegar over decals. Vinegar also removes stick-on hooks from painted walls. Saturate cloth or sponge with vinegar and squeeze the liquid behind the hook so that the vinegar comes in contact with the adhesive. In addition, vinegar can be used to remove price tags and other decals from glass, wood and china. Paint the label or decal with several coats of white vinegar. Give the vinegar time to soak in and after several minutes, the decal can be rubbed off.
Toilet bowl cleaner
• Baking soda and Vinegar. Sprinkle baking soda into the bowl, then drizzle with vinegar and scour with a toilet brush. This combination cleans and deodorizes.
• Clean upholstery by sprinkling it liberally with baking soda and letting it set for a few minutes before vacuuming. Smoke odors will also be eliminated.
Window & glass cleaner
Never wash windows while the sun is shining on them because they dry too quickly and leave streaks. When polishing windows use up and down strokes on one side of the window and side to side strokes on the other to tell which side requires extra polishing.
Use a natural linen towel or other soft cloth, a clean, damp chamois cloth, a squeegee, or crumpled newspaper. One word of warning about newspaper: while newspaper does leave glass lint-free with a dirt-resistant film, persons with sensitivities to fumes from newsprint may wish to avoid the use of newspaper as a cleaning tool.
• Vinegar. Wash windows or glass with a mixture of equal parts of white vinegar and warm water. Dry with a soft cloth. Leaves windows and glass streakless. To remove those stubborn hard water sprinkler spots and streaks, use undiluted vinegar.
• Baking Soda. To clean cut glass, sprinkle baking soda on a damp rag and clean glass. Rinse with clean water and polish with a soft cloth.
• Scratches, Stains, and Discoloration in Windows and Glass: toothpaste. Rub a little toothpaste into the scratch. Polish with a soft cloth.
• For Wood Floors: vegetable oil and vinegar. Mix a 1 to 1 ratio of oil and vinegar into a solution and apply a thin coat. Rub in well.
• For Ceramic Tile: vinegar. Mix 1/4 cup white vinegar (more if very dirty) into 1 gallon water. This solution removes most dirt without scrubbing and doesn’t leave a film.
• To dissolve chewing gum, soak the area with vinegar.
• To remove black heel marks: baking soda. Rub the heel mark with a paste of baking soda and water. Don’t use too much water or the baking soda will lose its abrasive quality.
• To remove crayon marks: toothpaste. Crayon marks on the floor may be removed by rubbing them with a damp cloth containing toothpaste. Toothpaste will not work well on wallpaper or porous surfaces.
Stainless steel cleaner
• Olive Oil. Rub stainless steel sinks with olive oil to remove streaks.
Vinegar. To clean and polish stainless steel, simply moisten a cloth with undiluted white or cider vinegar and wipe clean. Can also be used to remove heat stains on stainless steel cutlery.
• Club Soda. Remove streaks or heat stains from stainless steel by rubbing with club soda.
• Prevention. Put a sheet of aluminum foil on the floor of the oven, underneath but not touching the heating element. Although this may slightly affect the browning of food, the foil can be easily disposed of when soiled.
• Salt. While the oven is still warm, sprinkle salt on the spill. If the spill is completely dry, wet the spill lightly before sprinkling on salt. When the oven cools down, scrape away the spill and wash the area clean.
• Vinegar. Retard grease buildup in your oven by dampening your cleaning rag in vinegar and water before wiping out your oven.
• Baking Soda and Very Fine Steel Wool. Sprinkle water followed by a layer of baking soda. Rub gently with a very fine steel wool pad for tough spots. Wipe off scum with dry paper towels or a sponge. Rinse well and wipe dry.
The idea behind furniture polish for wood products is to absorb oil into the wood. Many oils commonly found in our kitchens work very well.
• Olive Oil and Vinegar. Mix three parts oil to one part vinegar. Apply and polish with a clean soft cloth.
• For Grease Spots: salt. Immediately pour salt on the grease spot to absorb grease and prevent staining.
• For Scratches: Use lemon juice and vegetable oil. Mix equal parts and rub into scratches with a soft cloth until scratches disappear.
Green Cleaning: By the Numbers
3,000 — the number in tons of paper towels sent to landfills each day.
100 — the number of dollars your family could save by replacing paper towels with microfiber cloths or towels.
202,056 — the number of exposure cases called into poison centers in 2010 involving household cleaning substances; 111,817 of those calls involved exposure to children age five and under.
100 — the number of times higher that indoor air pollution levels can be above outdoor air pollution levels, according to U.S. EPA estimates.
17,000 — the number of petrochemicals available for home use, of which only 30 percent have been tested for exposure to human health and the environment.
63 — the number of synthetic chemical products found in the average American home, translating to roughly 10 gallons of harmful chemicals.
275 — the number of active ingredients in antimicrobials that the EPA classifies as pesticides because they are designed to kill microbes.