The Best Non-Toxic Cleaners That You Already Have at Home

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

I took several printmaking classes in college, and I was astounded by how toxic a lot of the materials were— especially the mineral spirits and paint thinner. I later found out about totally nontoxic printmaking, pioneered by studios such as Zea Mays in Florence, Massachusetts. Inspired by some of these methods, here are eight ways you can make your house shine using common kitchen ingredients.

  1. Soy sauce is an excellent degreaser. Try using it to clean stove grease off your range hood, tea kettle, and backsplash.
  2. Ketchup and soy sauce both polish copper just as well as any store-bought polish. Keep the ketchup around to polish anything silver.
  3. To clean and polish glass surfaces, use newspaper instead of a rag. Newspaper is super absorbent and doesn’t drop lint when wiping.
  4. Dirty LCD and other electronic screens are the bane of my existence. Use a 1:1 ratio water to rubbing alcohol and a rag to clean them.
  5. For gunked-up drains, you have two options: pouring a kettle’s worth of boiling water down the drain often helps, as does a half-cup of baking soda, followed by a cup or two of white vinegar. The violent, volcanic reaction between baking soda and vinegar acts to physically remove gunk, rather than dissolve it.
  6. Make an easy — and food safe — wood polish by melting together 1 part beeswax to 3 parts olive oil. Rub it into the wood, then polish it off with a clean rag. As a bonus, it doubles as a dry skin balm.
  7. Oven cleaner is often one of the most toxic household cleaning products. I love CrunchyBetty’s recipe for homemade, almost no-work oven cleaner using borax, vinegar, dish soap, and water.
  8. Much like you use water to clean water-based paint, you can use any vegetable oil to clean oil-based ink and paint off surfaces, brushes, and hands. Pour vegetable oil on the ink and let it soak for a few minutes before wiping them both off with a dry rag.