Conventional cleaning products may seem like a great convenience, but here’s a little secret: common household staples are cheaper, easier to use and free of potentially harmful chemicals. Here are four housekeeping necessities that can clean almost anything:
As a cleaner, baking soda is a workhorse, and no home is complete without a box. It neutralizes odors and makes a good sink, tub, oven and countertop scourer. Sprinkle it on carpets before vacuuming.
To degrease and deodorize drains, pour in 1 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 a dash of liquid soap in single-use amounts.
Lemon juice cuts grease, polishes metal and lightens stains. For a laundry brightener, add 1/2 cup of strained juice to the rinse cycle. To remove tarnish, rub sliced lemons sprinkled with baking soda on brass, copper, bronze and aluminum.
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 can reduce microbes, deodorizes, pulls dirt from wood, and dissolves hard water scale, gummy residues, and tarnish. It also works wonders on windows. Put 1/2 cup in your laundry rinse cycle to remove detergent completely from clothes and to eliminate that scratchy feel. What can’t it do?