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Greener, Homemade Cleaners

2/27/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: cleaners, green

Last week the Environmental Working Group sued Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and the makers of other common household cleaners to make them reveal the ingredients in their products and their research on their effects. We say, why wait for this to make its way through the courts? You can save money—and safeguard your family’s health—by using what’s already in your kitchen cupboard.

These eight main ingredients, when mixed properly, make great natural substitutes to store-bought chemicals: 

1. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
2. Borax (sodium borate)
3. Lemon juice
4. White vinegar
5. Washing soda (aka soda ash, sodium carbonate)
6. Mild liquid soap (castile, olive oil soap)
7. Dry salt
8. Sodium percarbonate and hydrogen peroxide (alternatives to chlorine bleach) 

Baking soda and borax
Here are some basic tips to get you started on homemade cleaners: 

Baking soda cleans and deodorizes surfaces. For an all-purpose homemade cleaner:

• Dissolve four tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water.

• Sprinkle baking soda directly on a damp cloth or sponge, and scrub. Add some dry salt for an extra burst of power. This can replace most abrasive cleaners.

• For removing mildew or stains, scrub the dirty surface with borax or baking soda.

• Naturally acidic substances, such as vinegar and lemon juice, remove mineral deposits and wax or grease buildup. To clean glass or stainless steel, dilute them in water (use equal parts white vinegar or lemon juice and warm water).

• To clear clogged drains, pour some baking soda and vinegar down the drain, followed by 3 cups boiling water. Mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a bubbling, fizzing chemical reaction.

• Do not use this mixture in conjunction with a toxic drain cleaner!

• Washing soda is good for tough jobs, such as greasy ovens and grills. Its alkalinity makes it caustic, so wear gloves when using it. Look for Arm & Hammer’s Super Washing Soda.

To learn more about green cleaning, check our our article on green cleaners

We cover homemade cleaners a lot in Natural Home. To see more recipes for homemade cleaners, check us out in print or online.

Above: Baking soda and borax are key ingredients for most homemade cleaners. Photo courtesy Flickr/Smysnbrg 

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