We Americans are clean freaks! Look under any sink and you'll see an arsenal of cleaning products for every room and piece of furniture in the house. Household cleaners are loaded with chemicals, some strong enough that they come with warnings. Now, open your pantry. See that bottle of vinegar and box of baking soda? You might not know it, but those two ingredients are all you need to tackle most of the tough jobs in your house. Many other excellent cleaning ingredients are also right under your nose, such as lemon juice, olive oil, and ketchup. Yes, even ketchup.
Here are some homemade cleaners I have tried with excellent results:
Microwaves and stovetops: Spray with full-strength vinegar. Allow it to sit for about ten minutes on tough, baked-on stains, then simply wipe away.
Stinky drains: Vinegar combined with baking soda makes a wonderful cleaner and deodorizer. Shake a half cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup of vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing it down with a potful of boiling water. If you have a garbage disposal, follow with half a lemon to keep the whole system smelling sweet. Or perhaps you'd prefer a spot of tea? Brew some tea and add lemon and ice. Pour the mixture down the drain and turn on the disposal.
Scuff marks on floors: Use a gum eraser.
Pots and pans:
Copper — Use ketchup. It really works! Spread a thin layer on copper. Let sit a minute or two and wipe away the tarnish. Repeat as necessary for stubborn stains. Then rinse and polish.
Brass — Try rubbing on a bit of Worcestershire sauce.
Silver — Soak item in a quart of warm water mixed with one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon salt, and a piece of aluminum foil.
Furniture polish alternative: Combine one-fourth cup white distilled vinegar and one tablespoon olive oil. Mist on and buff off. The vinegar cleans and deodorizes while the oil conditions the wood. (Be flexible with oil; if wood seems to need more, add it. However, too much oil leaves a greasy residue.)
Toilets — Pour 1 cup distilled white vinegar into the bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes, brush, and flush. Or try mixing 1 cup of borax, 1/2 cup of lemon juice or vinegar, and 1/2 cup of baking soda for a bowl cleaner and disinfectant.
Sink cleaners — Spray white vinegar over surface, sprinkle on some baking soda, and scrub away.
Showerheads — Scrub away lime deposits by submerging the showerhead into a bowl of boiling water mixed with 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, or longer if necessary.
Air fresheners — apply 10 to 20 drops of essential oils to the inside of the toilet paper roll.
Try club soda straight up! Cleans grease and grime. Or, mix equal parts of water and white vinegar.
Stinky Shoes: Mix one part baking soda with two parts cornstarch; add a few drops of essential oil, such as eucalyptus, lemon, or tea tree oil. Sprinkle powder in shoes and allow to sit overnight. Shake out and take a whiff!
Garage: Kitty litter absorbs oil spills.