The following is a guest post from They Call Me Mommy:
I've always looked for the new and improved cleaners on the market. If it works better, I'm all for it. Elbow grease is hard, and this kind of marketing appeals to the laziness in me that doesn't want to wait or scrub. I just want my house magically cleaned. However, having a kid who's now crawling and approaching walking has led us to start child proofing. While locking up toxic cleaners is obviously a good idea, we decided to look into turning in our "new and improved" bottles for greener ones. Having been doing this a short while, we don't have a significant amount of experience, but what little we have is impressive. Even better, a lot of the non-toxic alternatives are significantly cheaper and fewer in number because they're all multi-taskers.
Baking soda, distilled white vinegar, lemon, salt, hydrogen peroxide, borax, castile soap, mild dish washing liquid, dishwasher detergent (you can find a chlorine and phosphate free brand), and laundry liquid. You can buy or make a good non-toxic all-purpose cleaner, though vinegar in a spray bottle can usually work wonders.
Microfiber cloths – I found a few different ones by Rubbermaid at Target. At $5 each, they replace a lot of hassle and bring stovetops and fixtures to a nice, glossy shine. They're streak free, lint free, require no cleansers, and they're machine washable. They can be used to clean TV's, stainless steel, glass, floors, etc.
- Stainless steel appliances – clean with vinegar, and bring to a shine with a microfiber cloth.
- Countertops (not marble) – mix equal parts vinegar and water
- Marble countertops – one tablespoon dishwashing liquid in a quart of warm water. Don't allow to air dry as marble stains very easily. Countertops & Porcelain sink Stains– baking soda on a damp sponge
- Garbage disposal – toss in a few ice cubes one a week to clean up any stuck on food. Toss in some vinegar or dishwashing liquid with running hot water to freshen the smell.
- Drain Opener – we make a batch of equal parts baking soda and coarse salt (kosher) to have on hand. When the drain starts to slow (i.e., not completely clogged), we pour one cup down the drain and follow by a quart of boiling water. For a stubborn clog, you might need to repeat. Unlike other agents, this will not corrode your pipes.
- Stove-Top – try to clean spills right away to avoid letting them getting cooked on. Cleaning solutions might vary depending on the surface, but I use vinegar to wipe it down, and bring it back to a shine with a microfiber cloth.
- Oven Cleaner – try to clean your oven with vinegar about once a week to avoid massive build-ups. If you can't address a spill in the moment, cover it with salt to aid in cleaning later on.
- Microwave – in order to reduce bacteria in my sponge, I wet it and microwave it for 1-2 minutes. When finished, the steam has loosed the grime in the microwave allowing for it to be easily wiped away.
- Butcher Block – to remove an oily film, spread a thick layer of kosher salt and leave overnight so the salt can draw the grease out of the wood. Scrape it off the next day. To polish, use olive oil (optional: add a few drops of essential oil of lemon).
- Showerhead and Sink & Tub Faucets – wipe down with an all-purpose bathroom cleaner. If you've got a big cleaning problem, lay a vinegar-laced cloth on the faucets, cover with a plastic bag, and hold in place with a rubber band. Leave overnight. It should be a much easier wipe and polish. If you have hard water, which we do, cleaning the inside of the showerhead is similar to above. Fill a bag with vinegar, submerse the showerhead (with or without removing fixture), and tie on with a rubber band. Leave several hours or overnight.
- Toilet – for routine cleaning and disinfecting, pour a half up of distilled white vinegar into the back of your toilet bowl, scrub, and let sit for about a half hour before flushing. For a stronger clean, sprinkle the bowl with baking soda, add vinegar, and scour. Wait a half hour before flushing.
- Scouring Powder – lightly sprinkle baking soda or borax on the surface, wipe, and rinse well.
- Soft Scrubber – add enough liquid castile soap to 1/2 cup of baking soda create a creamy mixture. Apply and clean with a sponge; rinse well.
- Bleach – add 1/4 cup borax or 1 cup vinegar to each laundry load (do NOT mix bleach with vinegar as it's quite hazardous)
- Softener – add 1/2 cup baking soda to your wash Whitener – add 1 cup fresh lemon juice to 1/2 filled bucket of water and soak clothes overnight
- All-Purpose Stain Remover – add 1/4 cup borax to 2 cups cold water in a bucket and soak stained clothing. Green Clean says this works well on blood, chocolate, coffee, mildew, mud, and urine. A paste of lemon juice and baking soda is great at lightening stains, especially on white fabrics and sweat stains. Just leave it on the stain for at least 1/2 hour before washing.
- Hardwood Floor Cleaner – wipe away spills immediately to avoid staining and stickiness. Green Clean recommends sweeping and damp mopping as needed with a solution of 1/4 cup vinegar to 1 gallon warm water. Personally, I just use a good non-toxic cleaner weekly.
- Pest Control – Green Clean has a slew of suggestions for keeping pests out of your home, including peppermint oil to deter rodents, flies detest basil (plants or essential oils are useful), ants hate cinnamon and cayenne pepper (sprinkle at entry points), and Epsom salts repel roaches.
Obviously, there's a lot more out there. I got the bulk of these tips from Green This! and Green Clean, both available at my local library. They both have a bit of the unsettling information about the toxic ingredients in every day cleaners, which unless you're terribly curious about, I'd skip (it's a scary enough world out there as it is). However, the tips are great, and Green Clean has a great list of recipes for various homemade cleaning supplies that have replaced the bulk of our cleaning supply chest. If you're interested in disposing of any of your cleaning supplies, I suggest contacting your local Household Hazardous Waste Center.