The Basic Ten at Work
Now that you know what products you need, grab a few clean, empty spray bottles; some rags and sponges; and a bucket of water, and you’re ready to clean your house the green way.
All-purpose cleaners: An all-purpose cleaner is just that—something you can use for just about every surface in your home, from kitchen counters and appliances to bathroom surfaces and walls. Clean House, Clean Planet author Karen Logan offers this recipe for the all-purpose “Alice’s Wonder Spray”: Put 2 Tbsp. white vinegar and 1 tsp. borax into a 16 oz. spray bottle. Fill the rest with very hot water and shake to blend until the borax is dissolved. Add 1/4 cup of liquid castile soap only after you’ve completed the above steps. If you want to scent your spray, also add 10–15 drops of an essential oil, such as lavender, lemongrass, thyme, eucalyptus, rosemary, rose, or clove. The spray will keep indefinitely. For an even simpler solution, try cleaning with two cups of club soda in a spray bottle.
Hard floor cleaner: This solution is useful for all hard floors (except when directed by the manufacturer to avoid even mild detergents): Combine 1/4 liquid castile soap, up to 1/2 cup white vinegar or lemon juice, and 2 gallons of warm water in a large plastic bucket. Use with a mop or sponge.
Carpet cleaner: To clean and disinfect your carpet, blending 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup borax, and 1 cup cornmeal. Sprinkle mixture over rug and rub with a cloth. Let rest for several hours or overnight, then vacuum. To remove stains from your carpet, mixing 1/4 cup liquid castile soap and 1/3 cup water in a blender until foamy. Spread the mixture on the carpet and let sit for a few minutes, then scrub the stain with a brush or clean rag. Also, club soda will remove many acidic stains, like coffee, wine, or juice. To deal with big carpet spills, pour cornmeal on the spill, wait 15 minutes, then vacuum.
Glass cleaner: To make your windows shine, you can simply use 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water in a spray-bottle. A microfiber cloth is recommended.
Bathroom surface cleaners: You can use the all-purpose cleaners recommended above or, for even simpler bathroom cleaning, use baking soda or borax as a scouring powder. For a softer scrub, combine 1/2 cup baking soda with enough liquid soap to achieve a frosting-like consistency. You may want to add 5-10 drops of an essential oil for fragrance. Club soda works wonders on plumbing fixtures.
Toilet cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda or borax, or pour white vinegar into the toilet, and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub with a good toilet brush. oven cleaner: Cover the oven floor with baking soda, spray with water until very damp, and let set overnight. Spray with water every few hours before you go to bed to keep damp. In the morning, clean out the baking soda, and the stuck-on gunk will be loosened and ready to scrub off.
Mold remover: combine 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar with 1 cup water. Spray on mold and do not rinse. Spray mixture of 2 tsp. tea tree oil and 2 cups water as a treatment.
Wood polish: To polish wood furniture, dab olive oil onto a soft cloth and rub.