Conventional cleaning products may seem like a great convenience, but here’s a little secret: cleaning with common nontoxic household staples is cheaper, simpler, and a whole lot safer. Here are five natural housekeeping necessities that can clean almost anything:
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Baking soda neutralizes odors and makes a good sink, tub, oven and countertop scourer. Sprinkle it on carpets before vacuuming. Line litter boxes with a cup before adding litter. To degrease and deodorize drains, pour in 1/2 cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup of vinegar; let bubble for 15 minutes and rinse with hot water. For a “soft scrub,” mix together baking soda and liquid soap in single-use amounts. As a cleaner, baking soda is a workhorse, and no home is complete without a box.
Washing soda is baking soda’s stronger cousin. It requires the use of gloves and more rinsing, so save this cleaner for extra-stubborn stains. To clean ovens, apply a paste of 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup of washing soda, plus water, and soak overnight. Add 1/2 cup washing soda to laundry as a detergent booster.
Distilled White Vinegar
White distilled vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner that disinfects, deodorizes, pulls dirt from wood, and dissolves hard water scale, gummy residues, and tarnish. It also works wonders on windows. Put 1/4 cup in your laundry rinse cycle to remove detergent completely from clothes and to eliminate that scratchy feel. What can’t it do?
Borax is a good mold and mildew solution. This alkaline mineral is found in the laundry aisle and can also be used in place of washing soda as a cleaner. For an extra-strength toilet bowl cleaner, pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet before going to bed and scrub and flush next morning. One note: borax can be toxic when swallowed, so take extra care when using and storing it.