Make It Miniseries: Household Cleaners

Because cleaning house has never been one of my favorite things, anything that helps to make it easier, faster, and cheaper always catches my attention.  If I can avoid using products that make my eyes burn from the fumes and my skin itch and turn red, that’s even more important.  After using my own “homebrew” household cleaners for a few years, I’ve developed the opinion that most commercially made products are way too specialized (do I really need a product that only cleans my glass stove top?), way too strong or concentrated, and have way too many dangerous ingredients.  Specifically, ingredients that have VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), many of which are harmful to the environment and cause health problems with long term use.  VOC’s have a high vapor pressure at room temperature, causing a large number of their molecules to evaporate into the air.

Save some money, save your family’s health, save the environment and put away the industrial cleaners – try some of these ideas and be amazed at how well they actually work:

All-purpose Spray Cleaner - add 1 tablespoon natural liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s or a handcrafted one) and 1 tablespoon white vinegar to one quart of water.  Spray and wipe with a damp cloth; since there’s only a small amount of soap there’s no need to rinse.  Works great on greasy and oily surfaces.

Scouring Paste – mix equal parts salt and baking soda with enough vinegar to make a paste and use the foaming action to loosen and lift grime and soap scum.  Add a few drops of lemon or orange essential oils for an extra cleaning boost.

Water Spot Remover – to clean chrome faucets fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens, use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol.)

No-Streak Glass Cleaner – mix 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1tablespoon cornstarch, and one quart of warm water in a spray bottle.  Use crumpled newspaper or a coffee filter instead of paper towels for a lint-free shine.

Mold and Mildew Cleaner – combine 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle; shake well before using.

Multi-Surface Disinfectant – use peroxide for a multitude of cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, including: cutting boards, kitchen counters, refrigerator shelves and interior walls, soaking sponges, and spray on tile surfaces to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Other Uses for Peroxide – use ½ cup per load to whiten and disinfect white clothes, spray on organic stains (blood, sweat, coffee, wine) to remove completely (but be careful with dark colored fabric, it may bleach it), disinfect and deodorize lunch boxes, disinfect and deodorize your re-usable cloth shopping bags.

Metal Polishes

Silver Polish Soak silver in one quart of warm water with one teaspoon baking soda,
one teaspoon salt, and a small piece of aluminum foil.  Or, rub toothpaste on silver, let it dry and rinse off.

Copper - Rub lightly with fine table salt wetted with vinegar and lemon juice.

Chrome – Rubbing alcohol, or a small amount of ammonia with hot water. Also, use white flour on a damp rag.

Brass – Equal parts salt and flour, with a little vinegar.

Furniture Polish – Rub toothpaste on wood furniture to remove water marks.  Mix two parts olive oil to one part lemon juice. After rubbing the mixture in, let stand for several hours and then polish with a soft, dry cloth.

Do you have your own household cleaning tips or recipes?  Feel free to share them in the “comments” section - I'd love to hear from you!