Basic Household Ingredients for Eco-Friendly Cleaning

by Rachel Laurendeau on August 16, 2012

Most household cleaners contain harsh chemicals that are not only bad for the environment but also bad for our health. Making your own do-it-yourself cleaning products is easy and they work just as effectively and are much less expensive than commercial cleaners. Frankly, there isn’t a lot of “making” involved here, just using natural products that you probably already have on hand.

Baking Soda
Commonly found in the pantry, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is actually a somewhat alkaline mineral with lots of great cleaning potential. There’s a reason our mothers always kept a box in the back of the fridge: baking soda is excellent at neutralizing odors in the air and in water. You can use it as an air freshener, carpet deodorizer, or can be added to laundry to eliminate most smells (and it’s great for sweaty gym equipment). Baking soda can also be sprinkled on a damp cloth and used as a gentle cleaner for sinks, bathtubs, ovens, counters, etc.

Washing Soda
Although it has similar properties to baking soda, washing soda (sodium carbonate) is much more alkaline. It will cut through waxes, lipstick, grease and oil and can also neutralize odors the way baking soda does. However, you will want to wear gloves when handling washing soda as it can burn the skin. Also, be careful which surfaces you use it on as it is not recommended on aluminum, fiberglass or waxed floors.

Lemon Juice and White Vinegar
Because of their acidity, vinegar and lemon juice can neutralize scale from hard water, dissolve gummy buildup and clean dirt from wood. You can use them straight or mix them with water in a spray bottle, depending on the cleaning strength you require. Vinegar is the perfect mirror, shower door and window cleaner, just spray on and wipe off. You can give your stainless steel sink a good rub down with half a lemon to make it shine like new and use the other half in a bowl of water to clean the grimiest microwave oven by bringing the water to a boil then easily wiping down the inside.

Although cleaning with natural products requires using a bit more elbow grease to get surfaces really clean compared to chemical based cleaners, the benefits to your health and the environment clearly outweigh the extra few minutes of scrubbing.

Of course, in some cases no amount of scrubbing or polishing will remove stains or damage to a sink or tub and you may want to look into bathtub refinishing. Tub refinishing is an alternative to removing and replacing your bathtub and still gives you great results.

If you found this blog interesting, you may also want to read: Green Home Inspiration.

Resource: Care2.com

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