Remedies at the Ready
No matter the size of the chore—whether it's spot cleaning or wiping down all the kitchen countertops—the solution you need may very well be something you have on hand...in your kitchen. That's right: The makings of an all-natural clean home start with ingredients you may have picked up for family mealtime. So, open up your cupboard doors and take stock: How many of these cleaners are hiding in your pantry?
Club soda, isn't just a delicious drink, it's also a fantastic stain lifter. Pour it on fabric and blot—don't rub—to lift the stain. Because it's odorless and safe to drink, you won't have to worry about chemical fumes or leaving it out when kids are around.
Related: 10 Creative Uses for Club Soda
Vinegar is so versatile that it can clean everything from toilets and showers to windows and floors. Add a few citrus peels, and vinegar can cut kitchen grease even faster—and leave behind a fresh scent. Simply let lemon or orange peels soak in 1 quart of white vinegar for two weeks. Then strain, pour into a spray bottle, and use anywhere you like.
Related: 10 Handy Household Uses for Vinegar
You've seen fizzy bombs for baths, right? Well, you can make a cleansing fizzy for your toilet, too. All you need is 1 1/3 cups baking soda, 1/2 cup citric acid, and 90 drops of essential oil. Mold the mixture in an ice cube tray, and allow to dry. To use, simply drop in the bowl and, once the bubbles stop, scrub as usual.
Baking soda also makes a great deodorizer. Leave a box in the fridge or sprinkle some in the garbage can to freshen things up.
Cream of Tartar
Depending on whom you ask—and on the particular copper object—tarnish is either a beautiful patina or an unwanted layer of corrosion. Should you fall into the latter camp and wish to remove the tarnish, it’s easy. Simply make a copper cleaner by mixing cream of tartar with half as much lemon juice; it works almost immediately.
Got some worse-for-wear garden tools on hand? Renew them by submerging the steel parts completely in strong black tea. Start by filling a large bucket with hot water, add the tea and let it steep, and then put in the tools for a few hours. When you return, wear gloves as you wipe the tools down with a clean rag. Rust and caked-on dirt should fall away easily, leaving your trowel, hand rake, and pruners in near-pristine condition.
More than just a go-to seasoning, salt also works quite effectively as a cleaning agent. It absorbs oil and grease well, making it ideal for kitchen cleaning. Just sprinkle a pinch on fresh spills in the oven soon after they’ve cooled, and then wipe away. Or, combine it with baking soda and dish soap, and you get a basic scrub that’s potent enough to tackle tough grime on most appliances.
The next time one of your party guests accidentally drops a glass on the floor, skip the broom—and grab the bread. Dampen a slice, then dab it on the visible glass fragments and all over the floor where the piece shattered. Even the smaller shards will cling to the bread.
When combined with the right ingredients, aluminum foil can help you polish tarnished silverware for easiest-ever shine. In a foil-lined glass dish (or aluminum baking dish), add 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon sea salt, then slowly pour in 1/2 cup white vinegar, followed by 1 cup boiling water. Drop in silver pieces for 30 seconds to a minute at a time; remove carefully using tongs, then buff with a rag.
Related: 11 Surprising Uses for Aluminum Foil
A bit of vanilla extract can be the answer when your microwave's in need of a refresher. Fill a microwave-save bowl with 2 cups water and a few drops of vanilla, and nuke it on high for a minute. Remove the solution, wipe down the inside, and enjoy the sweet smell.
The citric acid in lemon makes it an excellent household cleaner for all corners of the home. You can use lemons to get rid of stubborn stains or odors. Mix lemon juice with baking soda for a homemade cleaning paste or allow lemon peels to soak in vinegar for two weeks for an all-purpose cleaner.
Related: 20 Clever Household Uses for Lemons
Ziplock bags come in handy for more than just storing snacks and sandwiches. Grab a baggie and fill it with your favorite dried flowers and herbs, and then poke a few small holes in it—just like that and you have a homemade drawer sachet. You can also use a Ziplock bag to help you declog a shower head. Fill a plastic bag about halfway with vinegar and secure it tightly around the head. Let it stand overnight, and by the next day you’ll have a great shower experience again.
If you don't spring for Grey Goose, cleaning with vodka is a frugal and effective practice. Vodka is a natural disinfectant, and, as long as you're not knocking back shots, it's completely nontoxic too. For best results, wipe down your marble and granite countertops with a clean sponge.
Here’s a sweet tip! Sugar makes a great natural cleaner. Pour a little into your coffee grinder to absorb oils, odors, and stuck beans. It’s also useful in the laundry room. Mix it with water to make a paste and then apply it stains, letting it sit for about an hour before washing.
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