Spring is finally creeping back into the world, which means it’s time to throw out the winter dust bunnies and welcome in the sunshine. But before you head to the store for heavy-duty cleaners, open your kitchen cabinets and see what sort of natural cleaning products you already have.
What You’ll Need — and Probably Already Have
You’ll be happy to know that the greenest cleaning products are likely the ones you use frequently in the kitchen. An eco-friendly home doesn’t only mean you’ve swapped out your old light bulbs with the energy efficient kind; one of the best ways to make your home more eco-friendly is to use green cleaning products. Even better than store-bought cleaners, the following cleaning products are inexpensive and versatile:
- Baking soda
- White distilled vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Coconut oil
Now, here are a few cleaning tips for your arsenal of multi-faceted, green cleaning supplies:
White distilled vinegar is a powerful substance, and a bit on the stinky side, too. Don’t be shy, though. To get started, clean the following surfaces with vinegar:
- Glass. Vinegar and newspaper make a streak-free window and mirror cleaner. I learned this trick while restoring a 19th-century home with original window panes. It works beautifully. Not convinced? You can also try mixing ½ cup rubbing alcohol with 2 ½ cups water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar for a cheap and natural multi-surface cleaner. (Thanks, Mr. Maid!)
- Stainless steel and chrome. Instead of using water — which leaves spots and risks rust — use straight vinegar to wipe down stainless steel appliances and even scissors.
- A good spring cleaning includes wiping down the blinds. Grab a pair of gotten gloves or an old rag, dip your fingers — wearing the gloves — in a solution of equal parts water and vinegar, and wipe the blinds by gently pinching them between your vinegar-soaked fingers.
- Fridge. Clean the refrigerator with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Then, wipe the inside down with full-strength vinegar to prevent mold growth.
Keep in mind that, as amazing as vinegar is, there are some things you shouldn’t clean with vinegar, like a fallen egg on the floor. Also, wood can be iffy. You’ll see a lot of cleaning recommendations using vinegar on wood or in the shower. Most of them probably work, but they could also damage the wood and pipes in your home. Use with caution.
Combination DIY Cleaners
The fearless combo of vinegar and baking soda is a true super-hero mashup. It is best used to fight tough stains, but anything that you’d normally use a heavy-duty chemical cleaner on warrants a test run with white vinegar and baking soda. It’s not the only super-cleaner, though. Try all these DIY cleaning solutions to make life a whole lot easier – and cleaner.
- Far cheaper and friendlier than a store-bought chemical cleaner, this powerful combo will clean your pipes. First, pour a ¼ cup of baking soda down your drain. Make sure you have the drain stopper on hand. Then pour a cup of straight vinegar down the drain and immediately plug it. The ensuing – but safe – volcano of foam will strip the scum out of your sink. I should note, however, that some claim this could do damage to your drains. Proceed with caution.
- If your oven is really dirty – I’m talking burnt crud on the bottom – start by using a scrapper to remove the worst of the mess. Then, make a DIY heavy-duty degreaser paste with equal parts baking soda, castile soap, vinegar and warm water. Spread the paste over the oven and rub it in well. Let it sit for several hours. Wipe the oven out, then spray it with vinegar. Wipe down and you’re finished. If no scraper is needed, sprinkle the oven with baking powder and spray with a thick layer of vinegar. Wait a few hours and wipe the oven down.
- Tile and Grout. Nasty, stained tile and grout can be one of the worst cleaning projects to tackle. You could spend hours on your hands and knees scrubbing with bleach and a toothbrush to no avail. Or, you could use Mr. Maid’s solution: mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 2 parts water and use on tile and grout for a quicker clean that leaves your surfaces sparking!
Coconut oil is known as nature’s most versatile product – and for good reason. Consider using coconut oil for the following cleaning uses:
- Furniture polish. Mixed with lemon juice, coconut oil makes a fantastic furnisher polish.
- Sticky messes. To remove sticky residue, apply some coconut oil and leave it on for a few minutes. Add a splash of lemon juice if it needs a little help.
- Stain remover. Always spot test first, but a dab of coconut oil will help clean up furniture stains.
- Leather cleaner. A fine layer of coconut oil will keep your leather polished. Again, remember to spot test first.
My only real concern with using coconut oil as a cleaning product is the cost. It’s a good bit more expensive than vinegar and baking soda, but like the other two products, you can use it for other purposes around the house. I’m all for protecting myself and the environment, but I like to think about my budget, too.
The best thing about using natural products to clean your home — aside from being eco-friendly — is now you have a few essential cooking and baking ingredients.
So clear out the faint odor of vinegar by cooking something tasty!