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Homemade Eco-Friendly Cleaners For Your Home

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A clean living space helps a house feel like a home. And naturally, making a home is about creating a safe and comforting space for you and your family. That's why cleaning with natural; non-toxic products are always best.

Nature provides us with materials that clean and disinfect thoroughly, making your home both safe and comforting. Just open up your cupboards - you most likely already have the five items on hand that can tackle all of your household cleanings. And the best part is they're often a more affordable, and safer alternative to the otherwise toxic and overpriced brand cleaners.

Let's get cleaning!

Lemons

Lemons have natural antibacterial properties. The refreshing citrus smell also exemplifies cleanliness for many people.

In the Kitchen :

Lemons can be used to clean wooden cutting boards. It can also help to remove stains from countertops. Just let the lemon juice sit for a while, then wipe clean. Limestone, marble, soapstone and unsealed granite surfaces should be avoided, however, because the acid can be corrosive. (Club soda is a great alternative.)

Cut a lemon in half and dip in coarse salt to scrub copper-bottomed pots and pans. Use this same method to help dissolve soap and hard water stains in sinks. You can throw the used lemon into your compost pile for eco-friendly waste disposal.

Odors, as well as bacteria, build up over time in your garbage disposal. Chop a lemon in half and drop it in. Turn the garbage disposal on for a fast and easy way to clean this hard-to-reach area.

In the Laundry :

Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent that can help brighten white linens and clothing. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle to help brighten whites. They'll come out smelling great too!

Salt

Regular table salt is beneficial when used as an abrasive cleaner. As an all-purpose cleaner, the coarse salt will help to remove stains, caked-on food on stovetops, and mildew in the bath and shower, or anywhere surface-scratching may be a concern. Mix baking soda and salt to whiten while scrubbing.

In the Kitchen :

Salt works well on pots and pans with caked-on food. Soak the pan with about three tablespoons of salt in a couple of inches of water. The grime should come off quickly. Gently scrub cast iron pans with salt without removing the seasoned-finish.

Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is powerful, economical, and versatile. Although the smell can be quite overwhelming, it dissipates quickly, leaving only freshness in its wake. Try adding some fresh lemon juice to cut the smell down if you're bothered by it. Vinegar can be used as an all-purpose cleaner, in the kitchen, bath, and laundry as well.

As an All-Purpose Cleaner :

In a spray bottle, mix one part water with one part distilled white vinegar. Use the solution to clean appliances, countertops, sinks, and floors. (Avoid using on porous stone countertops, such as limestone, soapstone, or marble because the acid in vinegar can be damaging.)

In the Kitchen :

To get rid of those lingering smells in your microwave mix 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl and bring the solution to a full boil in the microwave. Odors will dissolve, and any caked-on food will wipe away quickly with a damp cloth.

Soak a sponge in pure vinegar to remove grease from oven and exhaust fan grid. To thoroughly clean your oven, spray the inside liberally with three parts vinegar, one part water. Close the oven door and let the mixture sit for twenty to thirty minutes. Spray liberally once more and wipe clean immediately with a damp cloth or sponge. For really tough baked-on foods, use the baking soda scouring-paste mixture listed below, following the use of the vinegar solution.

In the Bathroom :

Using the same recipe as the all-purpose cleaning solution above, remove soap scum and hard water stains, as well as cleaning tile grout. To remove mildew, apply pure white vinegar directly, and let sit for 30 minutes before rinsing.

Because conventional toilet bowl cleaners are among the most toxic cleaning products, we think you should avoid using them altogether. Instead, pour 1 cup vinegar into the bathroom bowl. Let it sit overnight (if possible) to help deodorize and kill germs. Use a toilet brush in the morning to remove rings, and flush!

In the Laundry :

If you are one who doesn't care for the perfume and chemicals in fabric softeners, then vinegar may be your answer. Because vinegar breaks down laundry detergent, adding 1/2 cup to the rinse cycle will naturally soften sheets, towels, and clothes.

Baking Soda

Most everyone knows that baking soda helps to absorb odors, but did you know it's a great all-purpose cleaner as well? It can even remove scuff marks. Sprinkle the flooring with baking soda and wipe with a damp cloth. Because baking soda is slightly coarse, when mixed with water it turns into a scouring paste that works beautifully to remove hard water and soap scum from sinks, tubs, shower doors, countertops, and dishes. (No scratching!) You can also use baking soda to remove odors from your carpet. Sprinkle a little on and wait 10 minutes, then vacuum.

In the Kitchen :

Use baking soda anywhere you need deodorizing power. Refrigerator, cupboards, and the pantry. Sprinkling a little at the bottom of each new garbage bag will help control odors there as well. Use on pots and pans with burned or caked-on foods; add water and soak for easier cleaning.

In the Laundry :

Adding 1/2 cup baking soda to your laundry will act as a booster to your detergent in helping to remove dirt and grease.

Dawn® Liquid Dish Soap

On Glass:

If you've ever fought streaks on your bathroom mirror and windows, then you'll want this next bit of information: Scrap the window cleaners! They're often brimming with toxic substance. Replace them instead with a quart-sized squirt bottle of plain old H2O, and two drops dish soap. We like Dawn®, or BabyGanics Dish Dazzler Foaming Dish Soap. Just as important is the NON-use of all fabric softeners and dryer sheets on your cleaning cloths. The residue from fabric softeners and dryer sheets will cause streaks on your windows and mirrors - along with loud outbursts, and a whole lot of frustration. So keep it simple and keep your sanity along with your health!

For more information on eco-friendly cleaning, check out a fun little book called the Busy Mom's Guide to Cleaning: The 10-Step Guide to Declutter and Clean All Things the Fast, Natural, Eco-Friendly Way by Vanessa Johnson.

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