For a healthier greener home, consider using more natural cleaners than the commercial ones. Unfortunately, the ever-expanding arsenal of home cleaning products now includes several dangerous weapons, loaded with harsh cleansing agents like bleach, ammonia and acids. These chemicals can produce indoor air pollution by off-gassing toxic fumes that can irritate eyes and lungs. (Children and pets are most at risk.) Even the biggest messes and toughest stains can be attacked effectively with baking soda, borax, lemon juice and other simple ingredients, but without the harmful side effects.
These seven items make up the basic ingredients for nearly every do-it-yourself cleaning recipe.
Baking soda: A natural deodoriser and mild abrasive which also provides grit for scrubbing and reacts with water, vinegar or lemon by fizzing, which speeds up cleaning times.
Borax: disinfects, bleaches and deodorises; very handy in laundry mixes. It also inhibits the growth of mildew and mould
Distilled white vinegar: disinfects and breaks up dirt; choose white vinegar over apple cider or red vinegars, as these might stain surfaces. It contains about 5 percent acetic acid, which makes it a mild acid.
Lemons: contain citric acid which cut grease; bottled lemon juice also works well, although you might need to use bit more to get the same results
Olive oil: picks up dirt and polishes wood; cheaper grades work well
Vegetable based (liquid castile) soap: non-petroleum all-purpose cleaners
Washing soda: is a sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Its a stain remover, general cleaner and helps unblock pipes; should be handled with gloves due to its caustic nature. Washing soda is usually found in the laundry aisle of grocery and drug stores.
For common household tasks, try these nontoxic strategies using the above ingredients:
All-purpose cleaner can be made from a vinegar-and-salt mixture or from 4 tablespoons baking soda dissolved in 1 litre warm water.
Disinfectant means anything that will reduce the number of harmful bacteria on a surface. Practically no surface treatment will completely eliminate bacteria. Try regular cleaning with soap and hot water. Or mix 1/4 cup borax into 2 litres of hot water to disinfect and deodorise.
Oven cleaner: Make a paste out of baking soda and water, and apply it to tough, stuck-on grime in your oven. Let it stand for a while (dependent on how tough the stain is) then wipe clean.
Stovetop and Oven Grease Remover : 1/2 tsp washing soda, 1/4 tsp liquid soap and 2 cups hot water. Add washing soda and soap to hot water in spray bottle. Since washing soda is caustic, wear gloves.
Baking Soda and Water: Dust surfaces with baking soda, then scrub with a moist sponge or cloth. If you have tougher grime, sprinkle on some kosher salt, and work up some elbow grease.
Lemon Juice or Vinegar: Spray or douse with lemon juice or vinegar. Let sit a few minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush.
Disinfectant: Instead of bleach, make your own disinfectant by mixing 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil.
Use as a glass cleaner: Put a fifty-fifty solution of vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Spray vinegar solution on windows and wipe clean. If you use crumpled sheets of newspaper to wipe with, you will be left with a streak-free shine.
Clear minor clogs in drains: Put a couple tablespoons of baking soda (another natural cleaner) into a clogged drain, and follow up with a little bit of vinegar. The two will react to each other, and will start fizzing. This fizzing action can clear up minor clogs. Follow up with some boiling water to remove any leftover clog residue, and you’re all set.
Deodorise sink drains: Use the baking soda and vinegar trick, from above, even when you don’t have clogs to make drains smell fresh.
Clean and sanitise wood cutting boards: Cut a lemon in half, and push the cut end into some salt (yet another natural cleaner). Use the salted end of the lemon to sanitise wood cutting boards by rubbing it across the board. The abrasiveness of the salt will scour any impurities out of the wood, and the lemon juice will disinfect. After scouring, rinse with water and let dry.
Deodorise garbage disposals: Once a week, put a halved lemon into your garbage disposal, and let it run. It will deodorise and disinfect it.
The room where food is prepared, stored and often enjoyed requires constant vigilance. Splatters, spills and errant crumbs can build up and collect out of sight, encouraging harmful bacteria.
Baking Soda and Water: Reclaim counters by sprinkling with baking soda, then scrubbing with a damp cloth or sponge. If you have stains, knead the baking soda and water into a paste and let set for a while before you remove. This method also works great for stainless steel sinks, cutting boards, containers, refrigerators, oven tops and more.
Kosher Salt and Water: If you need a tougher abrasive sprinkle on kosher salt, and scrub with a wet cloth or sponge.
Natural Disinfectant: To knock out germs without strong products, mix 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil. Spray or rub on countertops and other kitchen surfaces.