Many people keep their homes clean, not just in an attempt to maintain a nice-looking environment, but also in an effort to maintain their physical health. After all, a house filled with dust, rife with mold and overflowing with trash can lead to a host of health issues.
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Paradoxically, however, many of the chemicals to which people turn to keep their homes clean can also cause health issues if used improperly or in excess. One way to mitigate this risk is to trade these store-bought cleaners for natural, home-made alternatives.
When you next run out of your favorite cleaners, instead of swinging by the store to pick up some more, pull some supplies out of your cabinet and whip up your own. It’s easier than you would expect.
1. All-Purpose Cleaner
When something is spilled on your counter, tile floor or plastic table top, you likely go immediately for the trusty all-purpose cleaner. As the name suggests, this is the cleaner that will do just about everything you need.
But you have another option:
Simple white vinegar can have the desired cleanliness-boosting effects without exposing you or your family to potentially dangerous chemicals.
To put vinegar to work for you, simple fill a spray bottle with straight vinegar or diluted vinegar if you wish to reduce the potency of the smell. Use this liquid as you would all-purpose cleaner to clean up those everyday messes that keep you constantly on your toes.
2. Scouring Agent
When you have to tackle soap-scum or mildew, there is simply no way around using a scouring agent. You don’t, however, have to use one that’s unnatural.
Instead of your traditional scouring powder, turn to simple and natural baking soda. This compound is naturally abrasive, making it perfect for use in jobs that require a little bit of extra muscle.
To use baking soda for this function, simply wet the surface you wish to clean, and sprinkle on the baking soda. Using a sponge or cloth, rub the surface in a circular motion. As you do so, you’ll scrape away the dirt and grime. Fortunately, because baking soda is so gentle, there is little risk that you’ll damage the surface itself, regardless of how fragile it may be.
3. Carpet Stain Remover
Pesky carpet stains can be a bear to get out. Turning to caustic chemicals isn’t always the right choice, however. Before trying something less natural and potentially more harmful, try a few simple options using vinegar.
For light stains, make a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray the solution directly on the stain, saturating it. Allow it to sit on the stain for several minutes. Press down with a clean, white cloth to absorb the mixture—and, hopefully, the stain as well. For some stains, you may need to repeat this process several times.
To deal with deeper stains, combine ¼-cups of salt, vinegar and borax. This should make a paste when combined. Apply the paste to the carpet, and leave it in place for several hours. Once it’s dried, vacuum it up. Because this combination is a bit more heavy duty, it’s wise to test it on a less visible part of the carpet before applying to your high-traffic or highly visible areas.
4. Furniture Polish
You don’t have to slather on the industrial furniture polish to keep that family heirloom coffee table gleaming. Instead, try some simple oils.
Create a mixture to use in your furniture polishing by combining ¼-cup of vinegar and lemon juice with 1 tablespoon of oil. Place this mixture in a spray bottle, and spray it on the surface to saturate it. Rub the mixture into the wood. Remove any excess oil with a second cloth. Repeat this process as frequently as you need to keep your wood furnishings looking amazing.
5. Drain Cleaner
Considering what you put down your drain on a daily basis, it should come as no surprise that, from time to time, this drain gets a bit dingy and smelly.
Get the smell out of your drain quickly by using some household ingredients.
If your drain is just a bit dirty, heat up four liters of water to just below boiling and add in ½-cup of salt. Mix until the salt dissolves. Pour this mixture down your drain.
For a drain that needs a deeper clean, dump ½-cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow this with ½-cup of vinegar. As anyone who’s ever made a science class volcano knows, these two create quite the fizzy reaction when they mix together. When this reaction takes place, it breaks up any soap sludge that is currently residing in your drain, leaving it clean, fresh and sanitary.
6. Air Freshener
You don’t have to turn to those overly fragrant store-bought air fresheners in your efforts to keep your home smelling great.
When it comes to freshening the air, you’ve got loads of options. For everyday air freshening, place a dish with baking soda or vinegar with lemons on your counter top. If you’re going to cook something that you suspect will leave your kitchen smelling less than wonderful, simmer a mixture of vinegar and water – 1 tablespoon of vinegar per 1 cup of water—on your stove.
If you want to create a seasonal scent to add Christmas cheer to your family gathering, put water and several cinnamon sticks in a pot, and set the mixture to simmer on the stove top.
7. Wall Marks Remover
Whether your toddler just got too excited with the crayon or your repeated bumps into the wall have left them looking worse for wear, you do have a natural option in your quest to remove these marks.
For a quick and easy cleaning solution, place some baking soda on a wet sponge or cloth. Rub the baking soda-covered cloth against the wall gently. The abrasiveness of the baking soda should be sufficient to remove the marks, but not so strong that it mars your walls.
Just as with the carpet cleaner, it’s always a great idea to try this cleaning technique in a less visible area that is painted the same color before you try it on the most visible parts of your walls.
8. Dishwasher Cleaner
If you’re like many, you absolutely adore your trusty dishwasher. From time to time, however, you need to give this workhorse of an appliance a little TLC in the form of a cleaning. If your dishwasher is in need of a scrub-down, turn to lemon.
Use lemon and let the dishwasher do most of the cleaning for you. To clean your dishwasher in this fashion, simply wet down the walls of the dishwasher, and apply powdered lemon (which contains citric acid).
Once you’ve applied the lemon, run your empty dishwasher through a regular cycle. Check the walls once the cycle has finished. If they aren’t cleaned to your liking, repeat the process once more.