Cleaning supplies come in large varieties, and unfortunately, that includes a diverse and daunting collection of chemicals. Nearly every product on the store shelves has some claim to infamy, some with ill effect on our health that, until recently, has largely been covered up. But, the word is out, and as consumers, stewards of the planet and health conscious people, it’s time we start changing our ways.
What’s more is that we’ve been marketed into buying specialty products for every little thing — polishing, disinfecting, wiping, mopping, washing windows, and so on — when all we really need are three simple, natural ingredients to accomplish most of the cleaning a household requires. That collection of bottles of fluorescent liquids beneath the sink need not be there.
Today, we are going to look at how to keep things sparkling and adequately germ-free without subjecting ourselves to serious health risks and without dropping oodles of cash for products we don’t need to buy (and that damage the environment).
The Three Mystery Ingredients
- Baking Soda: Many of us grew up knowing it as a strange box that grandmas kept in the back of their refrigerators, but the fact of the matter is that baking soda is a marvel. It has so many uses in the cleaning (and medicinal) arena that it’s ridiculous to think that, until recently, it had more or less been relegated to odor absorption in fridges.
- Vinegar: If anything can challenge the myriad powers of baking soda, vinegar — simple vinegar — can do it. Vinegar is simple to make and easy to do it at home. (This is an apple cider vinegar recipe, but vinegars can be made with most fruits and/or grains.) It is the crux of pickling, sure, but it used to be the main ingredient for household cleaning.
- Citrus Fruit: That’s right. We’ve been using them for drink garnishes and flavoring water for all this time, but citrus makes for a great cleaner, including providing pleasant scents to linger in the air. With these free on hand, nearly all the cleaning can be done without any call for bright blue solutions or toxic chemical smells.
The Long List of Cleaning Supplies
Why we ever moved away from using natural products, which are completely safe and work great, to clean remains a real puzzle, but it’s time to get back to those roots. The planet is struggling due to the chemicals we constantly dump, spray, and drain all over it. Our health is suffering as we continually challenge it with aerosols and leaching liquids that have been proven to damage us. Here’s how to keep the world clean simply and naturally.
- Kitchen All-Purpose: Soak the rinds of citrus fruits — lime, lemon, grapefruit, whichever — in vinegar for a couple of weeks then strain the fruit away for the compost bin. The resulting solution will be infused with a lovely scent, and the cleaner will disinfect countertops, clean up grease from the stove, and provide streak-free glass surfaces.
- Bathroom All-Purpose: See Kitchen All-Purpose. It’s all tiles, glass, ceramic, and grout. Why do we need something different?
- Glass and Mirror Cleaner: Combine one-part vinegar to ten parts water, spray it on, and wipe clean. Using old newspapers to wipe the windows clean is another handy tip for these tasks. Then, compost the newspaper.
- Furniture Polish: Actually, for this one, it’ll take an extra ingredient likely already in the kitchen: Olive oil. Combine two cups of olive oil with one cup of lemon juice, and it’ll clean up wood furniture and restore its luster.
- Scrub: Whether it’s tiles, the bottom of a sink,or the shower drain, baking soda has the grittiness necessary for scrubbing away grease, grime, and all sorts of classically problematic stuff. A little castile soap and lemon juice will make it work even better.
- Drain Unclogger: Begin by washing half a cup of baking soda down a clogged drain with warm water. Follow it up with a cup of vinegar. Wait at least fifteen minutes, letting the foamy combination work on whatever gunk is causing the problem. Or, just do this every so often as a preventative measure.
- Rust Remover: Vinegar. Straight up. Let items soak overnight and scrub it away. For larger items, baking soda can be applied as a scrub. A potato cut in half and dipped into the baking soda makes for a great instrument for scouring.
- Degreaser: Vinegar will do it. Citrus juice will do it. Squeeze half a lemon on a troublesome spot and let it soak for a few minutes. If that doesn’t do the trick, try adding a bit of baking soda (or salt) for some abrasiveness.
- Metal Polish: Half a lemon. The acidity gets the job done. Works the same way that Coke does on an engine. Only Coke isn’t exactly natural and certainly isn’t healthy for those with whom it comes into contact.
- Vegetable Wash: Many of us are happy with plain old water for rinsing our vegetables, but to clean them even better, use a little citrus juice or vinegar in the water, as both have anti-bacterial qualities to really get things sanitary.
If there is something that needs cleaning and the prescribed product can’t be found on this list, odds are vinegar, baking soda and/or lemon can get the job done. They are all crazy useful and the best way to clean a house without destroying the environment and the health of the inhabitants.