Natural Cleaners: 8 Safe Ingredients to Clean Almost Anything

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by Adobe Stock/New Africa

Looking for a simple way to detox your arsenal of cleaning supplies? Pare down to the staples listed below. These safe, inexpensive solutions will do the trick for almost every household cleaning job.

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

Here are some basic tips to get you started:

• Baking soda cleans and deodorizes kitchen and bathroom surfaces. To make a general-purpose cleaner, dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. To replace abrasive cleansers, sprinkle baking soda directly on a damp cloth or sponge, and scrub. Add some dry salt for an extra burst of power.

• 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 and warm water).

• To clear clogged drains, pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain, followed by 3 cups boiling water. (Mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a bubbling, fizzing chemical reaction.) Don’t use this mixture in conjunction with a toxic drain cleaner.

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

Find out more on how to clean without the chemicals.

Suggestions from Annie B. Bond, author of  Home Enlightenment (Rodale, 2005) and Kimberly Rider, author of Healthy Home Workbook (Chronicle, 2006).