By: Elna Botes van Schalkwyk
(With thanks to Jessica Kellner)
Everyone wants a clean home, but clean these days means more than no dirt and grime. It also means no potentially toxic chemicals. Clean up your cleaning act by ditching toxic commercial cleansers in favor of homemade versions. With this list of grocery store basics, you can clean just about anything.
· Baking Soda: scrubbing, whitenin
Use baking soda to eliminate odors and to whiten. A paste of baking soda and water can help whiten sinks and bathtubs, and a box of baking soda in the fridge, bathroom or cupboard helps absorb odors.
· Beeswax: polishing wood
You can forego oily wood polish in favor of all-natural beeswax. Find a local beekeeper, and you support your local economy in the process!
· Cornstarch and Club Soda (or any unflavored fizzy water): lifting stains
For a quick treatment to stains on carpets or drapes, cover the stain with absorbent cornstarch. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, then pour fizzy club soda to lift the stain. Also try cornstarch on oil dripped on clothing.
· Hydrogen Peroxide: disinfecting, removing stains
Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful disinfectant. To kill mildew, combine baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to create a paste, put on mildew and allow to sit for a few minutes before wiping away.
· Lemon: removing stains and odors
Lemons are a great all-purpose odor remover in the kitchen. Run half a lemon over a dirty cutting board to help remove odors such as onion or fish. Put half a lemon (chop it up if your disposal has trouble with large objects) down the disposal and grind it to remove odors from the kitchen sink. Lemon juice adds cleaning power to all-purpose solutions.
· Liquid Castile Soap: cleaning power
Liquid castile soap is an all-natural, olive oil-based soap great for all-natural dishsoap, floor cleaner and more. For a floor or wall cleaner, combine a cup of vinegar with a gallon of hot water and a few drops of soap.
· Olive Oil: polishing wood
Olive oil can naturally condition wood, as well as skin and hair!
· Pine Oil: cleaning soft wood floors
Pine oil is naturally conditions wood floors, and it smells fresh.
· Plant Essential Oils: chemical-free fragrance
Although they are chemical-free, pure essential oils are strong. Always do a sniff test before buying to make sure you’re not sensitive to the fumes, and use caution when handling pure essential oils. A few drops of essential oil can add antibacterial and antifungal power to a cleaning solution. Most important? They leave behind a fresh scent. Look for pure, undiluted essential oils in dark brown or blue bottles. Store away from sunlight.
· Salt: scrubbing
Thick kosher salt gives power to your elbow grease. To clean stubborn soap scum, combine baking soda and kosher salt and scrub.
· Washing Soda (sodium carbonate): scrubbing, removing stains and cutting grease
Washing soda is a powerful cleaning ingredient that acts much like baking soda but stronger. Use washing soda to clean toilets, or mix with water for a powerful all-purpose cleaner. Many natural cleaners recommend borax, but recent studies by the Environmental Working Group have found that it’s overly harsh. You can replace borax with slightly milder washing soda in nearly any recipe.
· White Vinegar: disinfecting, removing stains
White vinegar is a powerhouse of cleaning. Disinfecting and deodorizing, vinegar is a go-to product for germ-ridden spots such as countertops, door handles and telephones.