When you take a trip down the cleaning aisle of any American supermarket, you are confronted with an array of colorful bottles and cans in all shapes and sizes. If you are sensitive to certain smells – as I am — you also will be hit with a dizzying wall of odors.
A few labels may tempt you with phrases such as all-natural or eco-friendly, but if you read the ingredients, you may still see a list of toxic ingredients, including phthalates, glycol ethers, phosphates and volatile organic compounds.
With spring-cleaning time upon us, you may be looking for ways to clean your home effectively without exposing yourself or your family members to all these harmful ingredients. It’s easier than you may think. With only a few natural products, you not only can clean your home more safely but often less expensively as well.
These recipes make use of household staples you may already have on hand: white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, olive oil, Borax, cornstarch, plant-based liquid soap, essential oils and water. Here are our top eight DIY household cleaners for spring cleaning:
1. Glass cleaner
Ammonia is the key ingredient to most commercial window cleaning sprays. However, ammonia is irritating to your skin, eyes and lungs and can be lethal when mixed with certain other chemicals. Here is a safer alternative:
Combine an equal parts mixture of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray on glass or mirror. Rub dry with a lint-free cloth. If windows are particularly dirty, add a few drops of plant-based liquid soap (such as castile soap) to the mixture and shake well before spraying. Use a squeegee to wipe dry. The vinegar smell will soon dissipate, but if you like, you can add a squeeze of lemon juice for a clean, citrusy odor.
2. Bathtub and sink scrub
Dip a freshly cut lemon half into a half-cup of Borax (a natural laundry booster found in the detergent aisle). Use the lemon half to scrub stains. Rinse thoroughly. (Not for use on granite or marble.)
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3. Tile cleaner
Mix 1 1/2 cups baking soda, half a cup of liquid soap and half a cup of water. Add two tablespoons of white vinegar. Apply to surface, scrub and wipe with a damp sponge.
4. Toilet bowl cleaner
Pour one cup of Borax and one-fourth cup of white vinegar into the bowl. Let it sit overnight or for about six hours. Scrub with toilet brush and flush.
5. All-purpose cleaner
Try this spray for counter tops and appliance surfaces. Mix half a teaspoon of baking soda, two teaspoons Borax and half a teaspoon of plant-based liquid soap with two cups of hot water in a spray bottle. Shake well.
For inside the refrigerator, try mixing four tablespoons baking soda with one quart warm water. Pour the solution on a clean sponge or cloth and wipe away food residue and grime.
6. Furniture polish
Here’s a safe and gentle polish recipe for your wood furniture. Mix together 10 drops of lemon oil with two tablespoons of lemon juice. Then add a few drops of olive oil. Apply on a soft cloth and wipe off.
7. Mold and mildew cleaner
Spring showers can bring unwanted mold and mildew into your home and onto your outdoor furniture. Skip the toxic commercial sprays and tackle the problem with this recipe instead. Mix two cups of warm water and two teaspoons of tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray affected area. Let the solution sit for a few hours before wiping off with a clean dry cloth.
8. Floor cleaner
Cleaning your floors need not pollute your home with dangerous lingering chemicals. For linoleum and no-wax floors, mix one-fourth cup of baking soda, one tablespoon of liquid soap, six tablespoons of cornstarch, one-fourth cup of white vinegar into two gallons of hot water and mop floor with solution. For wood floors, use a simple but effective mixture of one-cup of white vinegar with a bucket of hot water.
Finally, even though these cleaners are natural, they still can be harmful if swallowed. Keep them out of reach of children.
What are your favorite DIY all-natural cleaners? Share your tips in the section below: