Vinegar, baking soda key ingredients in cleaning greenIt doesn't have to cost a lot to have the cleanest house on the block.
By: By Chris Martell, The Wisconsin State Journal, Superior Telegram
It doesn't have to cost a lot to have the cleanest house on the block.
Your faucet can shine and floors gleam just by cleaning them with the stuff that's probably in your pantry.
And for those concerned about unpronounceable chemicals found in many commercial cleaners, making your own cleaning products means you have control over what substances you bring into your home.
"I stress that you can keep your house perfectly clean with almost no expense," said Deb Neubauer of UW-Extension."The only things you really need are white vinegar and baking soda."
"A box of baking soda, which costs about $1, first goes into baking when it's fresh. The next stop is the fridge, where it absorbs odors. After that it becomes an effective cleaner," she said. "Its last stop is the garbage disposal, where it acts as a deodorizer.
"When you put it together with vinegar, which costs about $2, it's even better," said Neubauer, who relies on those two products in her own home. "What you can do with just those two products is amazing."
The extension has a list of non-toxic ingredients that can be used for homemade cleaning products. Most, except borax and soap, are edible.
Neubauer is often asked if they kill germs as effectively as commercial cleaning products.
"The answer is yes," she said. "You really do get things just as clean. Borax kills germs, baking soda has alkalinity, so there is a chemical reaction."
Here are some ways to concoct your own arsenal of cleaning supplies:
1 cup baking soda (or more, as needed)
A couple squirts liquid detergent
Spray water generously on the oven bottom, then sprinkle with enough baking soda so the surface is entirely white. Spray on more water and let it sit overnight. Grime and grease will be loose by then and you can easily wipe it off (a spatula works well). Then put some soap on a damp sponge to scrub off the remaining residue.
ALL-PURPOSE SPRAY CLEANER
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax)
1/2 gallon water
Store and use indefinitely. Good for removing water deposit stains in showers, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, mirrors.
For varnished wood
1/2 teaspoon oil, such as olive or jojoba
1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice
Mix ingredients in a glass jar. If it's closed tightly it will last indefinitely. To use, dab a soft rag into the solution and rub on wood surfaces.
For unvarnished wood
2 teaspoons each of olive oil and lemon juice
Mix and apply a small amount to a soft cotton cloth. Wring the cloth to distribute the oil evenly and wipe with broad strokes.
From bathroom fixtures
Squeeze lemon juice directly onto affected areas and let sit for at least 10 minutes before wiping with a wet cloth.
METAL CLEANERS AND POLISHES
Silver: Line a pan with aluminum foil and fill with water. Add a teaspoon each of baking soda and salt. Bring to a boil and immerse silver. Polish with a soft cloth.
Brass or bronze: Mix equal parts lemon and baking soda, or equal parts vinegar and salt. Polish with a soft cloth. Rub a dab of ketchup on tough tarnish spots.
Copper: Boil a pot of water and add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 cup white vinegar. Using a cloth, apply to copper while the liquid is hot; let it cool and then wipe. For tougher jobs, sprinkle baking soda or lemon juice on a soft cloth, then wipe. Rub a dab of ketchup on tarnished spots.
Aluminum: Make a solution of equal parts cream of tartar and water. Rub with a soft cloth.
"Tea Tree Treasure"
2 teaspoons tea tree oil
2 cups water
Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend and spray on mold. Do not rinse. The strong smell of tea tree oil will dissipate in a few days.
MICROWAVE OVEN CLEANER
1 part lemon juice
2 parts water
Mix the ingredients in a microwave safe mug or bowl and heat until steam fills the oven, about 10 minutes. Let it sit until the oven cools before wiping it out. The steam kills the microbes and the lemon leaves a clean fragrance.
Use equal parts white vinegar and water.
Mix in spray bottle. Spray directly on stain and let it sit for several minutes. Then, scrub with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water.
For fresh grease spots, sprinkle corn starch onto the spot and wait 30 minutes before vacuuming.
For heavy duty stains
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup borax
1/4 cup vinegar
Stir into a paste to rub into the stain. Let it sit for at least 3 hours and vacuum.
VINYL AND LINOLEUM FLOOR CLEANER
1 cup vinegar
A few drops baby oil
1 gallon warm water
For tough jobs add 1/4 cup borax (but use it sparingly on linoleum.)
Equal parts vinegar and water
Add a few drops of peppermint oil (optional)
Mix for damp mopping.
SOFT SCOURING POWDER
For stove tops, refrigerators and other surfaces that shouldn't be scratched, apply baking soda directly with a damp sponge.
TOILET BOWL CLEANER
1/4 cup baking soda
1 cup vinegar
Pour into the basin and after about 15 minutes scrub with a brush and flush.
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 quart warm water
Mix in a spray bottle and shake it. Use crumpled newspaper or cotton cloth to clean. Don't clean windows if the sun is on them or if they are warm because, if you do, streaks will appear when it dries.
TUB AND TILE CLEANING
For simple cleaning, sprinkle the surface with baking soda, scrub with a damp sponge or cloth and rinse with water. For tougher jobs spray surfaces with vinegar first, and follow by scrubbing with baking soda. Avoid grout if using vinegar.
Sources include: Annie B. Bond; eartheasy.com
(c)2012 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)
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