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Brewing Your Own Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies

by Joel Martens
Friday Apr 20, 2012

It's springtime and that means it's time to spruce up those whites. No, not for the party in Palm Springs-for the one in your house-you know that other ritual where you get out your white rags and paper towels to clean up winter's mess? Yes, I mean to dust off, wring out, suck up and whip away the traces of winter's molting. And yes, I'm still talking about housecleaning.

Never one to let a dust bunny get the better of me, I have learned over the years that the tools one wields in the non- ending battle against the grime-balls, are of the utmost importance. Historically I settled for store-bought, chemically infused selections offered-until I did some research on how toxic they really are and how much you can avoid said toxicity by using some of the most common household supplies-most of which you already have in your cupboards.

Here are some suggested formulas:

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Store and keep. Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc.

FURNITURE POLISH: For varnished wood, add a few drops of lemon oil into a 1/2 cup warm water. Mix well and spray onto a soft cotton cloth. Cloth should only be slightly damp. Wipe furniture with the cloth, and dry immediately by wiping once more using a dry soft cotton cloth.

WINDOW CLEANER: Mix 2 teaspoons of white vinegar with 1 quart warm water. Use crumpled newspaper (not colored) or a cotton cloth to clean. Don't clean windows if the sun is on them, or if they are warm, or streaks will show on drying. Be sure to follow the recipe, because using too strong a solution of vinegar will etch the glass and eventually cloud it.

ANOTHER SOLUTION FOR WINDOWS: use club soda in a spray bottle. For that greasy, kitchen film, add three tablespoons white vinegar per 2 cups of soda.

DISINFECTANT: 2 cups of water, a couple of drops of natural soap, 15 drops of tea tree oil and 15 drops of lavender oil. Lemon also works on things like cutting boards and other hard surfaces.

FLOOR CLEANER AND POLISHES: Most floor surfaces can be easily cleaned using a solution of vinegar and water.

Vinyl and linoleum: mix 1 cup vinegar in 1 gallon warm water. For tough jobs, add 1/4 cup borax. Use sparingly on linoleum.

Wood: mix equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water. Add 15 drops of pure peppermint oil; shake to mix.
Brick or stone tiles: mix 1 cup white vinegar in 1 gallon water; rinse with clear water.

OVEN CLEANER: Moisten oven surfaces with sponge and water. Use ¾ cup baking soda, ¼ cup salt and ¼ cup water to make a thick paste, and spread throughout oven interior. (avoid bare metal and any openings) Let sit overnight. Remove with spatula and wipe clean. Rub gently with fine steel wool for tough spots.

TUB AND TILE CLEANER: For simple cleaning, rub in baking soda with a damp sponge and rinse with fresh water. For tougher jobs, wipe surfaces with vinegar first and follow with baking soda as a scouring powder. (Vinegar can break down tile grout, so use sparingly.) For lime deposits (scale) try squeezing lemon juice on to affected area, letting it sit for a bit and wipe clean.

?SCOURING POWDER: For top of stove, refrigerator, and other such surfaces that should not be scratched, use baking soda. Apply baking soda directly with a damp sponge.

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