Is your cleaning mantra "When in doubt, douse it in bleach"? While you might feel confident your house is sanitary and squeaky clean, you can't always trust that your health isn't suffering—the problem with many household chemical cleaners is that they're actually toxic to your health.
Instead, you might want to try borrowing a greener, cleaner recipe from your grandmother. She'd break out the baking soda and vinegar and have the house sparkling before you woke up from your nap. It's just those kind of classic, affordable and naturally effective household cleaners that every adult should know by heart.
1. Foaming Hand Soap
Make your own foaming hand soap by combining liquid castile soap and water. Fill your dispenser with a fifth of the liquid castile, then pour in water until full. Optional: add a few drops of a scented essential oil to the recipe for fragrance.
2. All-Purpose Cleaner
Create the simplest all-purpose cleaner by mixing one part vinegar to one part water. (Remember: never apply vinegar-based products to marble, granite or stone—in its place, use vodka or rubbing alcohol.) A vinegar-and-water spray is also wonderful to use for streak-free windows and mirrors.
3. Oven Cleaner
For this oven cleaner, you only need baking soda, vinegar, steel wool and elbow grease. A silicone spatula makes a good scraping implement for stubborn areas. You'll also want a spray bottle, gloves and damp dish cloth.
Take out the oven racks. Fill the spray bottle with vinegar for even application, and spray down the interior of the oven. Sprinkle baking soda, especially over the greasy parts. It'll bubble. You'll get to the sides when scrubbing. Let the mixture set for several minutes to an hour.
After the mixture has set, use your elbow grease while wearing rubber gloves. Scrub down the oven using your steel wool and a damp cloth to wipe away. If the oven is especially gross, coat it with a baking soda paste (add a bit of water to the baking soda). Let it sit overnight, and scrub again. Make sure you wipe down the oven afterwards to remove traces of baking soda.
4. Unclog the Drain
It's easy to unclog the drain with baking soda and water. You may need to add vinegar to the mix for truly gunky drains. Set two cups of water on the stove to boil. Pour a half cup of baking soda into the drain, then pour the boiling water down the drain while it's still hot.
For super-gunky drains, you can add the half-cup of baking soda to the drain and follow up with a half-cup of vinegar. Cover the drain with a small saucer or pot until the bubbling slows down. Then, pour the boiling water down the drain. Repeat as needed.
5. Cast Iron Cleaner
Cast iron pans are meant to be cleaned with minimal effort. All you need is heat, water and a sponge. Never use dish soap. Heat the pan, grip with a pot holder, scrub and dry. For tougher cast iron stains, mix equal parts olive oil and coarse salt and scrub. Rinse with hot water and dry.
6. Pan Degreaser
Use elbow grease and salt to degrease your pans. That's it! Just scrub the grime away!
7. Tile Cleaner
Make a baking soda paste (add a few drops of water) to clean your tile. Then follow-up with all-purpose cleaning spray to wash away residue.
8. Floor Wash
A homemade floor wash is just as effective as commercial cleaners. Fill a bucket with hot water, then add a half-cup each of white vinegar and vodka (or rubbing alcohol) and two tablespoons of dish soap.
9. Air Purifier
The beauty about homemade air purifiers and fresheners is that you can customize the recipe to your preferences. You'll need:
- ¾ cup water
- 2 tablespoons vodka (optional)
- Any combination of essential oils
- One eight-ounce spray bottle
In your spray bottle, combine the water and vodka. Then comes the fun: To make your house smell like chai, combine four drops cardamom, three drops cassia, three drops clove and two drops ginger essential oils. For a floral and air purifying spray, use up to ten drops of lavender essential oil. Add your chosen oils to your spray bottle and spritz in the room as needed.
10. Bleach Rival
To make a natural cleaner that rivals bleach, combine half a cup of baking soda with one teaspoon castile soap and one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. Apply the mixture to surfaces with a cloth and rinse with another clean, damp cloth.