Cleaning your house can be a chore, but it shouldn't compromise your health. Part and parcel with the concept of optimum health is taking care of the environment - including the environment in your home. An entire industry has been built on developing natural cleaning products - everything from nontoxic bathroom cleaner to environmentally friendly dish soap. In addition to the products you can buy from health-food stores and a variety of catalog companies, there are a number of books that describe how you can make your own cleaning products from common household ingredients, such as vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, potatoes, tea tree oil, baking soda and even white bread.
Here are some down-to-earth, nontoxic suggestions for cleaning your home naturally with basic household ingredients, for a clean, safe home that doesn't expose your family and guests to toxic chemicals.
- Baking soda: An all-purpose cleaner; especially effective on glass coffee pots and glassware; removes red-wine stains from carpeting. A paste (made with water) can shine stainless steel and silver; the paste can also remove tea stains from cups and saucers. Make a paste with a castile- or vegetable-based liquid soap and a drop of essential oil (tea tree or lavender) to clean sinks, countertops, toilets and tubs. Pour 1 cup down the sink to clear a clogged drain, followed by 3 cups of boiling water.
- Boiling water: Use weekly to flush drains and avoid clogs.
- Coarse salt: Cleans copper pans and scours cookware. Sprinkle salt on fresh spills in the oven, then wipe off. Sprinkle salt on rust stains and squeeze a lime or lemon over them, let sit for several hours and wipe off.
- Essential oils: Mix lavender or tea tree essential oils with water and spray on kitchen or bathroom surfaces for an environmentally and people-friendly antibacterial spray.
- Grapefruit-seed extract: Add a few drops to water in a spray bottle for an odorless way to kill mold and mildew.
- Lemon juice: Use as a bleaching agent on clothing, and to remove grease from your stove and countertops. Add 2 Tbsp lemon juice to 10 drops of (real) lemon oil and a few drops of jojoba oil to clean and polish wood furniture.
- Olive oil: Use to lubricate and polish wood furniture (three parts olive oil to one part vinegar; or two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice).
- Potatoes: Halved potatoes can remove rust from baking pans or tinware - follow with a salt scrub or dip the potato in salt before scrubbing.
- Tea tree oil: Can be added to vinegar/water solutions for its antibacterial properties. Use it to kill mold and mildew, and on kitchen and bathroom surfaces instead of chemical products. Add 50 drops to a bucket of water to clean countertops and tile floors.
- Toothpaste (white, plain): Cleans silver; can remove water stains on wood furniture - dab on, allow it to dry and wipe off
- White vinegar: Cleans linoleum floors and glass (from windows to shower doors) when mixed with water and a little liquid soap (castile or vegetable). Cuts grease and removes stains; removes soap scum and cleans toilets (add a bit of baking soda if you like). Pour down drains once a week for antibacterial cleaning. Add to water in a spray bottle to kill mold and mildew.