Many people want to switch to natural household cleaners to avoid harsh chemicals, but they don’t know which ones will do a good job.
Here are a few inexpensive and versatile natural cleaning items often found in the kitchen that will replace store-bought chemical cleaners.
Cleaning Toilet Bowls — Baking Soda, Essential Oil, Vinegar
For a heavy-duty cleaning solution that also deodorizes, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda, and about 10 drops of an essential oil (tea tree, lemon, lavender) into the toilet bowl. Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the bowl, and scrub while the mixture is fizzing. If the toilet bowl isn’t very dirty, let the mixture sit for 5 minutes instead, then flush.
To clean the seat, lid, and toilet base, fill a small spray bottle with about 1 cup of white vinegar. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Spray the areas, let the mixture sit for a few minutes, then wipe the surfaces clean.
Cleaning Mold and Soap Scum — Vinegar, Tea Tree Oil
Mold in the shower tile grout can be a recurring problem. To get rid of it and maintain a mold-free shower, fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and 3-5 drops of tea tree oil. Spray it on the moldy areas and wait at least 30 minutes before wiping it off. For stubborn mold stains, scrub with an old toothbrush.
For tub or shower tile soap scum, spray the solution on tub and tile surfaces, and scrub with a sponge or microfiber cloth. Rinse and repeat as necessary. Once the tub and tiles are clean, you can use a spray solution of 1/2 water, 1/2 vinegar with a few drops of tea tree oil for daily use.
Cleaning Carpet Stains — Baking Soda, Vinegar
Cover the entire carpet stain completely with baking soda. Combine 1/2 white vinegar with 1/2 water in a spray bottle, then thoroughly spray the solution on the baking soda. The baking soda will start foaming, which is harmless, and fun to watch.
Let the mixture sit for at least 3 hours, then use a nylon brush to gently work the baking soda-vinegar solution into the stain. Don’t rub too hard or you’ll damage the carpet fibers. Let the carpet dry overnight.
By the following day the carpet should be dry, leaving only a chalky, baking soda residue. Vacuum this up, and for any remaining residue, scrub gently with a clean cloth.
Before using any carpet cleaning solution, be sure to test a small patch in an inconspicuous area.
Cleaning Kitchen Sink Garbage Disposals & Drains — Baking Soda, Vinegar, Lemon, Ice, Salt
Garbage disposals can get pretty stinky from build-up. To prevent this, and to keep the drain and disposal running smoothly, clean and disinfect them on a regular basis with natural ingredients that don’t corrode and damage your pipes.
First, remove the drain catch, and pour 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of white vinegar down the drain. The mixture will fizz and start doing its job. Next, boil some water, and after a few minutes carefully pour several cups down the drain.
Now, fill the drain with ice, and pour up to 1 cup of salt on top. Turn on the cold water, then run the garbage disposal until all the ice and salt have disappeared.
With the cold water still running, the last step is to cut a whole lemon into small sizes your garbage disposal can handle, and add the pieces one at a time to the disposal. The citrus in the lemon not only helps remove particles that can clog up a disposal, but it also gives a lemony fresh smell to the sink and disposal.
Cleaning Cast-Iron Pans — Olive Oil, Salt
Soap, steel wool, and dishwashers are no-no’s for cleaning cast-iron pans. You don’t want them rusting and losing their seasoning. Instead, clean them right after use by combining olive oil with a teaspoon of coarse salt in the pan. Scrub with a stiff brush, then rinse with hot water to finish.
Cleaning Stainless Steel — Olive Oil, Vinegar
When cleaning stainless steel, first determine the direction of the grain.
Spray the appliance with vinegar. Use a soft cloth or paper towel to wipe the vinegar off in the direction of the grain. The initial debris should be removed with this step, and the appliance should start to look shinier.
Next, dip the soft cloth into a little bit of olive oil — you don’t need a lot, and you can always get more if you need it. With the oiled cloth, wipe the appliance again in the grain’s direction. All the marks should disappear, and your appliance will really shine.
Cleaning Cutting Boards — Lemon, Salt
To clean and disinfect a wood or plastic cutting board, you usually only need a lemon. Cut a lemon in half, run one of the halves over the cutting board surface, let the board sit for 10 minutes, and then rinse it. If the board has some stubborn debris to remove, sprinkle coarse or Kosher salt over it, and then rub it with 1/2 a lemon. Lemons will also get rid of fish and meat odors on a cutting board.
Cleaning Dishes — Castile Soap
Castile soap is made from 100 percent plant oils. There are no animal products or chemical detergents, and it’s great for cutting through grease. Make a dish soap for hand washing dishes by combining 1 cup of liquid castile soap, and 3 tablespoons of water in a bottle of your choice. A few drops of essential oil is optional. Shake the mixture well, and you’re ready to do dishes.
Cleaning Windows — Castile Soap, Vinegar
Dilute 1 tablespoon of castile soap in 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. In a second spray bottle mix 1/2 water with 1/2 white vinegar. Spray the window with the castile mixture, then wipe it down with a microfiber cloth, including the edges, and squeegee it quickly with a high-quality squeegee.
Next, spray the window with the vinegar mixture, and squeegee the window, wiping the blade on a second microfiber cloth after each pass. Finally, wipe around the window edges with the first microfiber cloth. (You can also use club soda instead of the vinegar-water mixture).
An important tip: don’t wash your windows when the sun’s shining directly on them. Wait until an overcast day or the spray will evaporate before you can squeegee it off, and you’ll have spots or streaks on the windows.
An important note about castile soap: don’t mix it directly with vinegar or any acid (e.g. lemon juice) in the same container. Vinegar is an acid, and castile soap is a base (alkaline), and they will react with each other and cancel each other out. The vinegar will reduce the castile soap back to its original oils, and you’ll have an oily, whitish mess. Use the castile soap to clean, and the vinegar to rinse in separate actions.