Before using any of these recipes, test them on an inconspicuous area to ensure that the surface you are cleaning will not be damaged.
- Baking soda: Helps to clean and deodorize, will act as a scouring agent, polisher, stain remover and fabric softener. Use to clean plastic, vinyl, carpet, silver, stainless steel and drains.
- Borax: Helps to clean and deodorize. Use on wallpaper, painted walls and floors. Use it with your detergent to remove stains and boost cleaning power.
- Vinegar: Helps remove stains, wax build-up and mildew. Use to clean windows, fireplaces, grout, paintbrushes, glass and coffee pots. May damage acid sensitive surfaces, so test on a small area first.
- Add a 1/2 cup of pure liquid soap (for example, pure castile soap) to 1 gallon of hot water. This solution is safe for all surfaces and is very effective for most jobs.
- For a clean scent, and to help cut grease, add a 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the above recipe.
- For a stronger cleaner, double the amounts of soap and lemon juice in the above recipe.
- Dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 2 cups of hot water; add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray as you would an air freshener.
- Place a few slices of a citrus fruit, cloves, or cinnamon in a pot with enough water to simmer gently for 1 to 2 hours.
- Use baking soda in your garbage or refrigerator to help reduce odors at their source.
Pour a 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain first, then a 1/2 cup of vinegar. Let it fizz for 15 minutes. Then pour down a tea kettle full of boiling water. Repeat if needed.
Do not use this cleaner on self-cleaning ovens.
- Sprinkle baking soda over the bottom of the oven until it is covered completely with about a quarter of an inch of baking soda.
- Then, using a clean spray bottle, spray a mixture of baking soda and water until the bottom of the oven is thoroughly damp but not flooded.
- Repeat dampening process several times before going to bed.
- In the morning the baking soda can effortlessly be scooped out of the oven with a sponge along with all the grime.
- Rinse out the white residue left by the baking soda.
Bath and Bedrooms
Tub and Sink Cleaner
- Sprinkle baking soda on porcelain fixtures and rub with a wet rag. Rinse well to avoid a hazy finish.
- Mix cream of tartar and white vinegar together to make a paste.
- Mix 2 teaspoons of Borax, 4 teaspoons of white vinegar and 3 to 4 cups of hot water into a spray bottle.
Window and Mirror Cleaner
Put a 1/4 cup of vinegar in a 16 oz spray bottle and fill to the top with water. A few drops of detergent may be added for preventing streaks. Spray and wipe surfaces with a sheet of newspaper or lint-free rag.
- Borax has long been recognized for its disinfectant and deodorizing properties. Mix a 1/2 cup of Borax into 1 gallon of hot water or undiluted vinegar and clean with this solution.
- For a fragrant smell, add a few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary or lavender to the above recipe. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and cool. Store in a plastic spray bottle.
Floors and Furniture
Floor Cleaner with Fragrant Herbs
Combine in a pail or bucket: an 1/8 cup liquid soap or detergent, a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of white distilled vinegar or lemon juice, a 1/2 cup fragrant herbal tea (peppermint is great as it adds antibacterial qualities). Swirl the water around until it is sudsy. Scrub floor with mop or rag.
- Combine pure soap with table salt or baking soda on the surface to be cleaned. Scrub with a firm bristle brush.
- Baking soda alone on a damp sponge is also effective on most surfaces.
- Personalize scouring powder by adding an aromatic herb or flower. Put ingredients in blender and run until the fragrance has infused the powder.
Dissolve 1 teaspoon of lemon oil in 1 cup of vegetable oil. Apply with a clean dry rag.
Laundry and Fabric
- Add 1/2 cup of Borax to water as washer is filling. Add clothes (this is sufficient for a large load and will clean and deodorize your clothes).
Dissolve a 1/4 cup of Borax in 2 cups of water. Apply directly to stain and let it dry before sponging away, or use it as a pre-treat before machine washing.
Softening Fabrics (including wool)
- Add a 1/4 cup of white vinegar to rinse cycle or to a dispenser ball (this will not make your clothes smell like vinegar).
- To make blankets soft and fluffy: Add 2 cups of white vinegar to a washer tub full of water. Rinse cotton and wool blankets in the tub after washing. This leaves blankets free of soap, so their nap is soft and fluffy.
- Fruit and wine stains: Immediately pour salt or cold soda water on the stain and soak it in milk before washing.
- Grease stains: Strain boiling water through white cottons and follow with dry baking soda.
- Ink stains: Soak in milk or remove the stain with hydrogen peroxide.
- Blood stains: Immediately pour salt or cold soda water on the stain and soak it in cold water before washing.
- Coffee and chocolate stains: Mix an egg yolk with lukewarm water and rub on the stain.
- Chewing gum: Rub with ice and the gum will flake off.
- Coffee and tea: Use an equal mixture of salt and white vinegar to clean stains from china cups.
Reprinted with permission from the American Lung Association of Seattle, Washington