There are many non-toxic, natural cleaning products that are on the market or you can make your own. Check your natural food store or see "Resources" for online or mail-order shopping. With a few basic ingredients, you can clean almost everything in your home. The following cleaners are safe and work as well—or better—than the commercial counterparts:
- Fill a spray bottle with half water and half distilled white vinegar; add a spoonful of biodegradable soap. This works on windows and mirrors, too.
- Baking soda and distilled white vinegar: Combine when ready to use—mixing creates a science-project like foam. I love this mix and keep finding new things to clean with these two miracle ingredients. I never measure—use this mixture a few times and you will figure out how much to use for what project. Buy distilled white vinegar by the gallon and pour some into an easy to handle bottle and keep a large box of baking soda on hand.
- This mix cleans all kinds of things, including:
- Stubborn stains (let sit, then rinse)
- Stainless steel
- Water fountains
- Stained glass
- Stubborn stains (let sit, then rinse)
- Purchase concentrated citrus cleaner from a natural food store. Mix with water in a spray bottle.
1 cup water
20-25 drops pure essence of lavender oil
Pour water into a spray bottle, add lavender oil and shake. Spray onto surfaces—no need to wipe. This spray is good for use on "high-touch" areas like doorknobs and phones when someone in the family is sick.
Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners
Sprinkle several pounds of cornstarch or baking soda on a nine by twelve carpet or liberally on upholstery, let sit for an hour and vacuum. For freshly soiled spots, use soda water or make a paste with baking soda and vinegar or soda water and scrub dirty area. A water-only steam machine is also an effective method for removing stains and dirt from carpets and upholstery.
For a deep clean, rent a carpet steam machine and use 2 cups white vinegar and 2 ½ gallons of water to clean carpet. When finished, raise thermostat to make room really warm and use a fan to accelerate drying time.
For clogged drains, a plunger, when used correctly, really works! The secret is to use water, as the weight of the water forces the clog to break through. To unclog pipe, cover drain opening, turn on the water and allow some water to collect. Continue to allow water to run, remove cover and begin to plunge.
If that does not work, pour ½ cup baking soda, then ½ cup vinegar into drain, wait five minutes and follow with boiling water.
Bathe pets with a natural shampoo from your natural food store or online store. If you get your puppy used to baths, bathing can be a non-event. In addition to shedding hair, an unwashed dog will embed dirt and odors into furniture, carpeting and rugs. Regular shampooing—monthly or more—can make a big difference in keeping your home clean.
If fleas are a problem, there are natural collars available at natural food stores. Instead of flea powder, wash the animal's bedding regularly.
Plastic feeding dishes leach chemicals into your pet's water and food. Replace plastic dishes with stainless steel or lead-free ceramic bowls.
Pots and Pans
Dish soap is fine for standard cleaning. For tough jobs, sprinkle baking soda and add distilled vinegar and let sit for awhile. This works miracles, even on stainless steel! On seasoned cast iron pots, water and mild soap is generally adequate. Always dry thoroughly with towel to prevent rust, and then apply a thin layer of cooking oil. For tough jobs, kosher salt works well.
Mix baking soda and white vinegar, rub on silver, rinse and dry. White toothpaste also works for smaller jobs like jewelry.
For heavily tarnished brass, put some baking soda on a rag, add vinegar and rub. Rinse and wipe dry. Lightly tarnished pieces can be cleaned with vinegar or other natural acids like milk, tomatoes, Tabasco or lemon juice. Rinse and wipe dry.
Combine 1 ½ cups white vinegar, ½ cup water and 8 drops citrus essential oil in a spray bottle and shake well. Add a small amount of alcohol for tough jobs. Spray on windows and wipe dry with a cloth or towel.
When cleaning numerous windows, pour 6 parts warm water to 2 parts white vinegar and 1 part alcohol into a bucket. Wash windows with mixture and dry with a professional squeegee. A squeegee saves both time and paper towels, but don't waste your time with inferior squeegees—they will drive you crazy, as they leave lines on the windows. I recently purchased one from The Clean Team (see "Resources") with additional replacement blades, and it works great!
Clean mirrors with a mixture of equal parts of alcohol and water.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Pour 2 cups of white vinegar in toilet bowl and let stand overnight. If a watermark still remains, rub stain with a wet pumice stone. Pumice stone will not scratch porcelain.
Mix ½ teaspoon light olive oil, ¼ cup white vinegar and water to fill a one quart container. Apply mixture and wipe with a clean rag. Or, mix 1 teaspoon lemon juice in 1 pint of vegetable oil. Apply a small amount with a cotton cloth (old undershirts work really well) and wipe wood furniture.
You do not need to use any product to dust other than a microfiber cloth and a sheepskin duster with an extension pole. Microfiber cloths and dusting mitts are fabulous! They are positively charged and pick up the negative charge in dust. I even run them under my heater vents and they pick up globs of dust that stay put until I shake the cloth off outside. They can be used wet or dry and are available at houseware stores like Linens 'n Things.
While chlorine bleach is effective at killing mold, bleach fumes are extremely harmful. A mixture of borax and water is a much less toxic approach. In the shower, spray or apply with a rag borax and water, and do not rinse—the borax residue will fight mold growth. Or, mix 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil with 1 cup water and apply with a rag or spray bottle. Finally, white vinegar, poured directly on mold, is eighty percent effective in killing mold.
If possible, freeze item that has wax drippings and peel off. If not, remove what you can. Then place newspaper below and above wax and iron on low setting. The wax will transfer to newspaper. Keep moving paper until all the wax is removed and then launder.
There are a number of natural cleaning products that you can purchase at natural food stores or online. In your grocery store, Bon Ami is all natural and works especially well on stainless steel and borax is a natural laundry booster and multi-purpose household cleaner.
Excerpt from Harmonious Environment