Spick and Span: A Guide to Natural Cleaning Products

Put these everyday household items to new use as natural cleaners or look for these ingredients when you’re buying natural, nontoxic cleaning products.

Baking Soda
What it is: Slightly alkaline sodium bicarbonate is a mineral.
Uses: Nonabrasive soft scrub that removes and prevents odors
Wheretogetit: Grocery store

What it is: Solid, pliable wax made by bees
Uses: Furniture polish, floor wax, candles, healing balms and salves
Where to get it: Candle-making, soap-making and art-supply shops or beekeepers’ apiaries
Precautions: Because of the heating process, supervise children.

What it is: Natural mineral compound. Disinfects, deodorizes, softens water, inhibits mold growth.
Uses: For use in the kitchen, bath, garbage, basement, ovens and other heavily soiled areas.
Where to get it: Grocery store
Precautions: Protective gloves for individuals with sensitive skin or those prone to allergic reactions.

What it is: Olive oil-based soap
Uses: A gentle, natural cleaner in cleaning solutions, shampoo
Where to get it: Soap suppliers, natural foods and health stores
Precautions: Remove soap scum or buildup that may occur. Follow with a vinegar rinse.

What it is: Vegetable stalk
Uses: Rub on cutting boards to absorb odors
Where to get it: Grocery store, farmer’s market

What it is: From oranges, lemons, limes
Uses: Solvent, disinfectant, deodorizer, fragrance and air freshener
Where to get it: Grocery store

What it is: Dried, ground corn
Uses: Abraisve quality can be used to spot clean and scour pots and pans, appliances, bathroom, kitchen
Where to get it: Grocery store

What it is: White, crystalline mineral powder
Uses: Nonabrasive cleaner for porcelain, drains, metals
Where to get it: Grocery store

What it is: Extracts from lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, juniper, sage, thyme, pine, tea tree
Uses: Add to general home cleaners as a disinfectant
Where to get it: Health food stores, Internet
Precautions: Avoid contact with eyes. Use sparingly. Test for allergies.

What it is: Pressed from flax; nonedible form called linseed oil.
Uses: Furniture polish
Where to get it: Health food stores, Internet

What it is: Highly acidic liquid
Uses: Cleansing aid with antiseptic qualities. Add to water for cleansing.
Where to get it: Health food stores, Internet

What it is: Liquid made of two hydrogen and two oxygen atoms. Disinfectant with antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial qualities.
Uses: Use in kitchen or bath; add to wash water or directly to sponse. Removes stanis from clothing.
Where to get it: Grocery store, pharmacy
Precautions: Do not swallow or get in eyes.

What it is: Juice or extract from the fruit.
Uses: Natural cleaning ingredient and air freshener with slight bleaching action and flea-fighting properties.
Where to get it: Grocery store

What it is: Volcanic stone used whole or pulverized
Uses: Abrasive cleaner for hands, hard metals, water deposits. Exfoliates in soaps, hand-cleaning recipes.
Where to get it: Grocery store
Precautions: Use with discretion on skin and on smooth surfaces to avoid scratching or discoloration.

What it is: Natural mineral
Uses: Non-scratching (to most surfaces) abrasive cleanser with antibacterial qualities
Where to get it: Grocery store

What it is: Colorless, viscous liquid derived from vegetable fats and used in soap
Uses: Stain remover to add to cleaning recipes. As a moisturizer it works in creams, salves, balms
Where to get it: Health food stores, Internet

What it is: Highly alkaline sodium carbonate (also known as caustic soda)
Uses: Cuts grease; cleans clothing; removes dirt, oil and stains; neutralizes odors
Where to get it: Grocery store
Precautions: Potential skin irritant; wear gloves. Clothing laundered in washing soda must be rinsed well to avoid irritation to skin.

What it is: Dilute acetic acid
Uses: Dissolves buildup; remove tarnish; cleans cloth, kitchen appliances, drains
Where to get it: Grocery store


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plant-based cleaning products

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