Create-Your-Own Cleaners with Common Ingredients

familyI like to avoid chemical cleaners that aggravate allergies and/or asthma and save money, too. You can do this, too. Scan your pantry shelves for common household ingredients that you can use to make your own, earth-friendly, people-friendly cleaning solutions. Your home will shine—and you’ll feel better about what you’re putting into the air and water supply.

TUBS AND SINKS:
Sprinkle baking soda on porcelain fixtures and rub with a wet rag. For a little booster power, add a drop of liquid castile soap. Rinse well to avoid leaving a film.

TOILET BOWLS:
Use baking soda to clean inside the toilet bowl in place of scouring powder, adding in a few drops of liquid castile soap.
If you are like me and always in a hurry… Drop two Alka Seltzer tablets in your bowl and let sit for 10 minutes, then easily brush away residue and flush. I love this quick “hands free” method in a pinch.

A teaspoon of Tang drink mix in the toilet bowl is another quick, non-toxic solution. The citric acid in the Tang acts as a scrubber. Just let it set for a few minutes, then swish with a toilet brush and flush.

WINDOWS AND MIRRORS:
To keep my windows and mirrors sparkling, I mix a solution of one part white vinegar and ten parts water. Spray on surface, then rub with a lint-free rag (old cloth diapers work well) or wadded up newspapers for a streak-free shine. Outdoors: wash with a sponge dipped in a water/castile soap mixture, rinse well and squeegee dry.

DRAINS:
Loosen up minor clogs and keep drains clear and smelling fresh with this all-natural technique that may remind you of an elementary school science experiment. Pour ½ cup baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup vinegar. Let fizz. Then pour down a teakettle full of boiling water. Repeat if needed. If the clog is stubborn, use a plunger or mechanical “snake.”

COPPER:
Mix equal parts vinegar and salt and apply to surface with a clean, soft rag. Rinse thoroughly to avoid pitting, and don’t use this technique on lacquered copper.
Another copper cleaning trick: dip half a lemon in salt and rub over surface, then shine with a cloth that’s been dipped in water. I find that this cleans brass, too.

OVENS:
Commercial oven cleaners should be avoided because they contain chemicals which are highly toxic and can cause severe skin and respiratory irritation. I mix a cup of baking soda with enough water to make a paste, then, apply to crusty oven surfaces and let sit for 15 minutes. Then I use a spatula to scrape off large food deposits, and scrub off the rest with a scouring pad. This method requires a little more elbow grease, but is worth the peace of mind. THIS METHOD IS NOT SUITABLE FOR SELF-CLEANING OVENS.

GLASS SHOWER DOORS:
Remove built-up shower scum with a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda. Rinse well, then, I rub a teaspoon a lemon oil on the doors. Water will bead up and roll off, and doors will stay shiny. Repeat every two weeks.

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