8 ways to use non-toxic, home-made cleaning supplies

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...

10 Basic Ingredients for cleaning

The Basic Ten Stock your cupboards with these ten products, and you can clean just about anything: 1) White vinegar: An antifungal that also kills germs and bacteria. 2) Baking soda: Eliminates odors and works as a gentle scouring powder. 3) Borax: Borax, the common name for the natural mineral compound sodium borate, eliminates odors, removes dirt, and acts as an antifungal and possible disinfectant. Use with care around children and pets, as it can be toxic if swallowed. 4) Hydrogen peroxide (3% concentration): A great nontoxic bleach and stain remover, as well as a proven disinfectant. 5) Club soda (fresh): A stain remover and polisher. 6) Lemon juice: A pleasant-smelling nontoxic bleach, grease-cutter, and stain remover. 7) Liquid castile soap: An all-purpose cleaner, grease-cutter, and disinfectant. “Castile” means the soap is vegetable-based, not animal-fat-based. 8) Corn meal: Great at picking up carpet spills. 9) Olive oil: Makes a wonderful furniture polish. 10) Pure essential oils: Adding all-natural, organic essential oils to your cleaning concoctions can add wonderful scents to your housekeeping endeavors. Some—such as lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and tea tree oils—also may have antibacterial, antifungal, or insect-repelling properties. To find pure, organic essential oils, visit your local health food store or you can find some great buys with www.mountainroseherbs.com, www.essential7.com and www.herboco.com. Remember to use care with essential oils, as they can cause harmful reactions when ingested or put directly on the skin. Some are considered dangerous for pregnant women (To be safe and simplify things, stick with eucalyptus, lemongrass, and tea tree oils for all recipes below if you’re pregnant). Use SPARINGLY, some essential oils in...

Toilets

Once a week, you should pour about a half cup vinegar into your toilets and let it sit for 30 minutes. Next, sprinkle baking soda on a toilet bowl brush and scour any remaining stained areas. Afterward, flush. You can also mix the vinegar and baking soda, swish the bowl, and allow it to sit for 20 minutes before scrubbing clean. If you have stubborn hard-water or rust stains, you can do the same thing, but scrub the surfaces with a bit of steel wool. Of course, never flush steel wool down the toilet. Instead, rinse it thoroughly, set aside...

Shower Curtains

Clean your shower curtain by sprinkling baking soda on a sponge and scrubbing. Rinse well. A mildew stain on the curtain can be tackled by briskly rubbing in a baking soda and water paste. When a shower curtain really needs help, remove it and wash on the delicate/cold cycle of your washing machine, adding vinegar and baking soda as the only detergent. Add a bath towel to help agitate the grime off. To prevent mildew from coming back, add another cup of vinegar to the final rinse cycle. You can practice preventative maintenance here as well by keeping a spray bottle of vinegar and water in your shower. After each shower, spray down the shower curtain or doors to prevent scum and mineral buildup. Another old-fashioned tip for mildew prevention is to soak the curtains in salt water. This can be done right in the bathtub: Fill it with warm water and pour in 1/2 cup salt as it fills. Drop the curtains right into the tub to soak, then hang up to drip...

Tile & Grout

Use a baking soda paste to remove mildew stains on the grout around your tub or shower. Apply the paste and then scrub it with an old toothbrush until the stain is gone. Remember to rinse the area well. It’s also a good idea to keep a bottle of this Baking Soda mixture in your bathroom & kitchen, ready for use.­ Baking Soda Cleaning Mixture: 16 ounces baking soda­ 4 tablespoons liquid dish soap 1 cup warm...

Tubs and Shower Walls

f your tub or shower is made of fiberglass, clean it by wiping on a paste of baking soda and dishwashing liquid with a sponge. Also, the same paste will attack hard-water and rust stains on ceramic tile. Use a nylon scrubber to clean it, then rinse. Spraying the corners of your tub or your shower doors and walls with vinegar can loosen built-up soap scum. After spraying, allow it to dry. Then simply spray it down again and wipe clean. Porcelain tubs and sinks can be among the trickiest for stain removal. Have you ever accidentally spilled an entire bottle of shampoo into your white tub and unwittingly let the mess sit there all day? That can certainly clean things up, but it’s not really the recommended method. Instead, pour lemon juice over the stains, then sprinkle on alum powder (usually available in the spice aisle of the grocery store) and thoroughly work into the stain. If the stain doesn’t come out immediately, let the mixture sit on the stain as long as overnight. The next morning, add more lemon juice, scrub again, and rinse. Nonskid strips or appliques on your shower or tub floor can easily get stained and are often hard to remove. To clean, dampen the applique­s and sprinkle baking soda directly onto them. Let this sit for 20 minutes and then scrub and rinse. You can remove the appliques completely by saturating each decal with vinegar to loosen the glue. (For even better results, warm the vinegar in a microwave or on the stove for about three minutes.) Let the vinegar sit for a...