When it comes to housecleaning, you probably have a standard arsenal of store-bought cleaning supplies that you rely on to get the job done. However, these cleaners are often filled with harsh chemicals and toxic fumes, making them a less than ideal cleaning choice. Instead of using these convenient yet toxic chemicals, why not try a greener way of housecleaning? Many of these eco-friendly cleaners are probably things you already have in your home and they’re much safer to use around young children than the standard store-bought cleaners.
1. Vinegar – This acidic cleaner is great for removing foul smells and unsightly stains, making it perfect for accidents with diapers and potty training. Plain white vinegar is good for shining up surfaces and keeping countertops germ free. You can also use it to wash the pesticides and germs off of produce by diluting it in water and then washing your fruits and veggies in the mixture. Additionally, you can clean your coffee makers, iron, dish washer and drains with vinegar, and even use it to get glasses spot-free by adding it to the rinse cycle. Heating vinegar up will help remove stains from the microwave and mixing it with salt will clean tarnished brass, copper and pewter. And that’s just the beginning! There are several more ways you can clean with vinegar, making it the perfect addition to your cleaning supplies.
2. Baking Soda – Another great natural cleaner you probably already have on hand, baking soda scrubs away tough stains gently. It’s gentle enough that it doesn’t harm most surfaces and helps bubble away tough stains and ground in dirt when combined with vinegar. You can place a box in your refrigerator or sprinkle it in garbage cans to remove lingering smells, as well as use it in the garbage disposal and sinks to remove food stains and scents. It can also be used to whiten grout and soften laundry, clean ash trays, fishing and camping gear, and even gym supplies. If you need to shine up silverware, simply mix baking soda and water together to form a paste that will leave your silverware gleaming. Use it to scrub off grills, keep pets smelling fresh between baths, and clean stuffed animals, pet toys, baby toys, retainers and baby bottles safely and quickly.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide – This common first aid product is also a great stain remover – though you should be aware that, like bleach, it can remove color from some fabrics and surfaces. It can also be used to whiten sinks and toilets, get stains out of clothing when diluted in wash water, and even clean surfaces for a germ free shine. And did you know that hydrogen peroxide works great for teeth? Soak your toothbrush in it to prevent the spread of germs, freshen breath with a peroxide mouthwash that also fights gingivitis, mix with baking soda and salt for a natural teeth whitening paste, and more! It can also be used to sanitize lunch boxes, fight acne, help sprout new plants, bring out natural highlights in your hair, prevent fungi in fish tanks and remove the musty smell on old linens.
4. Essential Oils – Essential oils like lemon, peppermint and lavender make great cleaning agents. Added to baking soda you can make carpet cleaning powder or homemade air fresheners, and a few drops work well to shine wooden surfaces. Some essential oils, like pine, have antibacterial properties that can be used to clean and disinfect wooden surfaces with a pleasant scent. You can also use the oils to safely clean combs and brushes. Just let them soak in a few drops mixed with water for 20 minutes to get out the hair oils and you’ll have clean brushes once again. These oils are also great for removing the scuffs from wood and floors. Got gum? Essential oils help remove gum and other sticky items from objects. You can prevent grime build up on shower doors with a few drops of oil mixed with water or vinegar and keep the bathroom smelling fresh by placing a drop or two of the oils on each toilet paper roll.
5. Castile Soap – This cleaner is made with olive oil or other plant products and can be used in a variety of ways. It can be a natural way to get your clothes clean and can help to clean your car. Mix with water for a great wax-free car shine, mop your floors without dulling them and safely clean marble countertops. Add baking soda for a natural soft scrub that can be used on tile and cut through grease on stoves and ovens with hot water and castile soap!
6. Lemons – Another acidic cleaner, lemons are a natural disinfectant. Use along with other cleaners to get surfaces clean and shiny with a pleasant scent. You can also grind lemons up in garbage disposals to remove smells and bacteria or add them to your dishwasher to remove grease. Fight lime build up on faucets by wiping with lemon juice after every cleaning, neutralize stink on hands like garlic or fish by washing in lemon juice, clean tough stains on plastic by soaking in lemon juice or brighten white clothing by adding half a cup to the rinse cycle.
7. Cooking Oils – Did you know that cooking oils can be used for more than just cooking? You can also use them to oil noisy hinges, shine up wood and clean and protect wooden cutting boards and eating surfaces. You can remove scuffs and scrapes from furniture and woods by rubbing with cooking oils as well and use them to get tough sticky stains out. Need to clean cast iron? Safely do so with a mixture of oil and salt. Vegetable oil and hot water can get paint off of skin, buff out your shoes and shine up your stainless steel. You can even refresh wicker furniture that has dulled from weather exposure and keep it looking new for years.
8. Salt – Salt is a great germ killer and natural scrubber that can be used in conjunction with lemons to grind away tough stains and get in hard to reach places. Plus, it’s safe to use anywhere. You can sprinkle it in greasy pans to soak up excess oils, dash on to messy spills in the oven and then clean them up easily when cooled and even remove grease stains from wood by layering on salt and letting it sit for a few hours.
These are just a few examples of kid-friendly, natural cleaners that you may already have around your house. So swap out your pricey store-bought cleaners and clean your house the natural way. As a bonus, you’ll also protect your children and save money, too!
Rachael Cherry is a wife, mother, and writer who is passionate about helping connect families in need with high quality caregivers. She has taken that passion and put it to work through NannyPro, a respected online nanny referral service. Learn more by visiting @NannyPro on Twitter.