It's time for spring cleaning, but you don’t have to prep for the job by investing in a lot of chemical-laden and costly commercial household cleaners. Getting your house clean can be done with non-toxic ingredients that are safe for your pets and kids. If you avoid chemical heavy cleaning products, you will not only avoid filling your home with toxic ingredients and fumes, but will spend less money, too.
Here are three of my favorite hard working, non-toxic cleaning ingredients that you may already have stocked in your pantry:
A small box of baking soda may not look like a cleaning powerhouse, but there are hundreds of household uses for a this unassuming box that can be found on the baking aisle of your favorite grocery store. Baking soda, which is made from soda ash, naturally neutralizes acid-based odors in water, and adsorbs odors from the air. Sprinkled on a damp sponge or cloth, baking soda can be used as a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser for a multitude of household surfaces, including kitchen countertops, sinks, bathtubs, ovens, and fiberglass.
Baking soda works well in the laundry room, too. Did you know that adding a 1/2 cup baking soda to your usual amount of liquid laundry detergent will give you "whiter whites" and brighter colors? The baking soda also softens the water, so you can actually use less detergent. Adding 1/2 cup baking soda in top-loading machines (1/4 cup for front-loaders) also increases the potency of bleach, so you need only half the usual amount of bleach. You may be familiar with placing a box of opened baking soda in your refrigerator to deodorize the interior. Baking soda is also a great non-toxic carpet deodorizer.
White vinegar is another inexpensive household multitasker which can be used to both clean and deodorize around the house. You can freshen up the interior of your refrigerator by wiping everything down with a solution of half water and half vinegar or brighten coffee cups and teacups with a solution of vinegar and salt (or baking soda.) White vinegar is also superb for cleaning windows. Pour one part water with one part white vinegar in a spray bottle, spray on your windows and wipe dry with newspaper for streak-free windows.
Baking soda and white vinegar is a dynamic duo with several uses, including foam cleaning a slow drain. Pour the baking soda in first, followed by white vinegar. The combo helps eliminate bacteria and is easier on pipes and drains than the usual over the counter commercial formulas.
Stainless steel appliances are popular and they are also magnets for fingerprints and in the case of my household, dog smudges. Buff streaks out of stainless steel with a little oil on a terry-cloth rag, then bring out the shine by wiping afterwards with a dry paper towel.
Olive oil also makes the base for an excellent homemade furniture polish. Combine 2 parts olive oil and 1 part lemon juice or white vinegar in a spray bottle, shake it up, and spritz on. Let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes, then wipe off with a clean terry-cloth or paper towel.
Do you have any favorite non-toxic cleaning tips?