ancient, eco-friendly recipes: the Environmental Media Services, a US non-profit communications clearinghouse, is mainly dedicated to expanding media coverage of critical environmental and public health issues. In a section of its website, the organization has created a specific focus on “Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Commercial Cleaners and Other Household Products”. The sources are probably grandmothers’ oral traditions and old household books for inexperienced brides, but all of the advice has been suggested, approved and ‘certified’ by official environmental and health organizations.
ingredients: are you a respectful, aspiring alchemist, or simply without money? Before starting to build your own household cleaners stock, check this list of main ingredients:
mild liquid soap (not detergent)
reusable steel wool (not commercial cleaning pads that contain toxic cleaners)
non-chlorine (no sodium hyphochlorite) scouring powder
all-purpose cleaner: mix 2 Tbsp. baking soda with 1 pint warm water in a spray bottle. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar to cut grease.
surface cleaner: find a combination that works for you, and always keep some ready in a spray bottle. You'll find that weak acids like vinegar & lemon juice are good at cutting grease. Mix: 1 quart hot water, 1 tsp. veg. oil-based soap or veg. oil-based detergent, 1 tsp. borax, & 2 Tbsp. vinegar.
Note: Vinegar is used here as a mild acid to cut grease; borax is used as a water softener, especially good in areas with hard water, to prevent soapy deposits. Or, mix 1/2 cup vinegar in 1 quart of warm water. Or, dissolve baking soda in hot water for a general cleaner. (source: US EPA)
For a soft scrubbing paste, mix some baking soda with enough liquid soap to make a paste. Make only what you need as it dries up quickly. (source: Children's Health Environmental Coalition)
no-streak glass/window cleaner: mix 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1 quart warm water. Or, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 Tbsp. cornstarch and 1 quart warm water. Apply with a spray bottle or sponge. Wipe with crumpled newspaper instead of paper towels for lint-free results. (source: US EPA)
non-toxic toilet bowl cleaner: pour in 1 cup borax, 1/2 cup white vinegar and leave overnight. Flush to wet the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the borax around the toilet bowl and then drizzle with vinegar. Leave for several hours before scrubbing with a toilet brush.
tub and sink cleaner: use non-chlorinated cleanser. For toughest stains, try a citrus-based cleaner at full strength (undiluted). Try fine grain wet/dry sandpaper (400 grit) to remove pot marks in porcelain sinks (gentler than common scouring cleansers). To remove mineral deposits around faucets, cover deposits with strips of paper towels soaked in vinegar. Let set for 1 hour and clean. (source: US EPA)
bleach: use hydrogen peroxide-based bleaches. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down to water and oxygen in wastewater. (source: US EPA)
laundry: for a fabric rinse, add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the washing machine's rinse cycle. This eliminates the scratchy feel of laundered clothes by rinsing detergent completely from clothes. To brighten clothes, add 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle. Reduce the amount of laundry detergent per load by adding 1/2 cup of baking soda or borax to the wash. (source: Children's Health Environmental Coalition)
floor or furniture polish: use one of the following methods:
- use 1 part lemon to 2 parts olive oil and apply a thin coat. Rub in well with a soft cloth.
- mix 3 parts olive oil and 1 part vinegar.
carpet deodorizer: sprinkle carpet liberally with baking soda. Wait 15 minutes, then vacuum. For musty rugs that have been sitting in the attic, leave the baking soda overnight.