Getting toxic cleaning products out of your home is one of the smartest, easiest and most practical ways to create a healthier, more eco-friendly home. Many of the chemicals used in conventional cleaning products are bad for human health, and using them actually pollutes the air inside our homes. These cleaners are also a health hazard for children and pets. When we rinse out rags and pour dirty cleaning water or excess cleaners down the drain, those chemicals also go into our waterways, where they are, at best, expensively filtered out at water-treatment facilities and, at worst, leach into area bodies of water, harming wildlife and potentially contaminating drinking water.
These chemical cleaners are simply not necessary. Safe, simple products such as vinegar and baking soda clean and disinfect plenty to create a clean and healthy home, without putting our families’ health and the environment at risk.
Along with being very effective, many natural cleaning products are also incredibly versatile and inexpensive, so your green cleaning arsenal can save you loads of money over the many specialized commercial cleaners on the market. Our web editor Susan Melgren recently put together a few blogs highlighting the verstality of three of the best and most multifunctional items in any green cleaning arsenal: vinegar, baking soda and lemons. Check out some of my favorite uses for these items below, and see how a small group of key items can clean just about every area of your home!
Disinfect surfaces. Vinegar is your go-to natural disinfectant. Mix 1 part vinegar with four parts water for an all-purpose cleaning solution that will disinfect anything from countertops to doorknobs.
Clean glass. Combine 2 cups water, ¼ cup vinegar and ½ teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle to create a natural window cleaner. For a streak-free clean, use newspapers to wipe away grime.
Clean the toilet. Vinegar naturally deodorizes and kills germs. Pour 1 cup of vinegar into the toilet and let sit. Add a few tablespoons of baking soda for extra whitening power. Use a toilet brush to remove rings, then flush.
Clean tile grout. Spray a solution of 1 part water and 1 part vinegar onto grout and scrub with an old toothbrush.
Clear drains. Pour ½ cup of baking soda down a clogged drain then follow with a ½ cup of vinegar. Cover the drain to keep fizzing action inside. After the fizzing subsides, follow with a liter or two of boiling water. For very clogged drains, you may need to follow the boiling water by “snaking” the drain with a piece of wire or a straightened wire hanger. If you don’t achieve success the first time, repeat the entire process.
Polish furniture. Combine ¼ cup of olive oil, 4 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice for a homemade furniture polish that will leave wood tables and chairs gleaming.
Remove stains from clothing. Combine ½ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda and 3 cups water in a spray bottle for a pre-wash natural laundry stain remover. Spray the solution on stained clothing then wash as normal.
Soften laundry. Add a ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle. Vinegar naturally breaks down and dissolves laundry detergent to make clothes, sheets and towels softer.