Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Nontoxic Spring Cleaning

This is a good comprehensive guide to nontoxic cleaning. Spring's here! -Melissa

DIY Toxin-Free Cleaning Guide

Save money with safe, time-tested natural cleaners

Toxin free cleaning guide. Women cleaning window.
Photo: Howard Grey/ Getty Images

By Brian Clark Howard

We love all the new nontoxic cleaning products on the market. But did you know that baking soda, vinegar, borax, salt, citrus and even ketchup can be effective, nontoxic cleaners? Your grandparents did. They are cheap, readily available, and you don't have to worry about potentially harmful fumes.

Spotless Kitchens

  • Countertops and Sinks

    Baking Soda and Water: Keep counters clean 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 on sinks and cast iron pans, sprinkle on kosher salt, and scrub with a wet cloth or sponge.

    Natural Disinfectant: To knock out germs, 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.

  • Ovens

    Baking Soda and Water: Coat the inside of your dirty appliance with a paste made from water and baking soda. Let stand overnight. Then, don gloves and scour off that grime. Make spotless with a moist cloth.

  • Fruits and Vegetables

    Baking Soda: Worried about toxic pesticide residue, germs and dirty fingerprints on your juicy peaches and crisp carrots? Just sprinkle a little baking soda on wet produce, then gently scrub and rinse.

Beautiful Bathrooms

  • Porcelain and Tile

    Baking Soda and Water (with kosher salt): To keep bathroom surfaces clean and odor-free, dust with baking soda, and scrub with a moist sponge or cloth. Kosher salt can be added to the mix to help with tougher grime.

    Lemon Juice or Vinegar: Attack stains, mildew and any grease streaks by spraying or dousing with lemon juice or vinegar. Let sit a few minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush.

    Disinfectant: Instead of bleach, make your own bathroom disinfectant by mixing 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil.

  • Mirrors and Windows

    White Vinegar, Water and Newspaper: No, your mother-in-law isn't a vampire; you just need to clean those mirrors. It's simple: mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with a gallon of water, and dispense into a used spray bottle. Squirt on, then scrub with newspaper, not paper towels, which cause streaking.

    If you can't stand the smell of vinegar, you can substitute straight lemon juice or club soda (don't dilute either in water).

  • Clogged Drain

    Baking Soda and Boiling Water (vinegar if needed): Feeling plugged up? Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the problem drain, followed by 2 cups of boiling water. If that isn't doing it for you, chase the baking soda with a 1/2 cup of vinegar and cover tightly, allowing the vigorous fizzing of the chemical reaction to break up the gunk. Then flush that with one gallon of boiling water.


  • Wood Floors

    Oil and White Vinegar: You've heard that wood floors are more hygienic than carpet, but you aren't sure how to keep that gorgeous glow all year long. Just mix equal parts oil and white vinegar, and apply in a thin coat. Rub it in well to bring out the best in the grain.

  • Carpet and Rugs

    Club Soda: If you do have carpet, or even just some area rugs, it's inevitable that someone will spill something colored. Your best defense is to clean it up immediately with club soda. Here's how: First, carefully lift off any solids. Then, liberally pour on club soda. Blot with an old rag until all the color from the spill is absorbed by your cloth. The soda's carbonation should bring the spill to the surface, and the salts in the soda thwart staining.

    Cornmeal: For big spills, dump cornmeal on the mess, wait 5 to 15 minutes, and vacuum up all the gunk.

    Spot Cleaner: Make yourself a spot cleaner by mixing 1/4 cup liquid soap or detergent in a blender, with 1/3 cup water. Mix until foamy. Spray on, then rinse with vinegar.

    Just Beat It: For routine cleaning, take rugs outside and beat the dirt out of them the old-fashioned way.

    To Deodorize: Sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on the carpet or rug, using about 1 cup per medium-sized room. Vacuum after 30 minutes. Or mix two parts cornmeal with one part borax, sprinkle it around, and leave for an hour. Then vacuum.

1 comment:

Mike Stiles said...

Here is a link to an interesting Blog post about leaving rugs up-side-down on the snow to clean them. I work at an online area rugs store and no one here had ever heard of anything like this but if it works it sure would be cheap and safe.