Simple and safe cleaning recommendations for each area of the house

  • Countertops: For a "soft scrub," mix together baking soda and liquid soap until you get a consistency you like. The amounts don't have to be perfect. Make only as much as you need, as it dries up quickly.
  • Ovens: To clean extra-greasy ovens, mix together 1 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup of washing soda, then add enough water to make a paste; apply the paste to oven surfaces and let soak overnight. The next morning, lift off soda mixture and grime; rinse surfaces well.
  • Microwave ovens: can be cleaned with a paste of 3-4 tablespoons baking soda mixed with water. Scrub on with a sponge and rinse.
  • Cutting boards: Disinfect them by spraying with vinegar and then with 3% hydrogen peroxide (available in drug stores). Keep the liquids in seperate spray bottles and use them one at a time. It doesn't matter which one you use first, but both together are much more effective than either one alone.
Kitchens are one place where disinfecting is recommended for other select items like utensils and countertops.

  • Tub and tile cleaner: Mix 1 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup liquid soap and1/2 cup water. Then, as the last step, add 2 tablespoons vinegar (if you add the vinegar too early it will react with the baking soda). Immediately apply, wipe, and scrub.
  • A good all-purpose disinfectant: 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 to 4 cups hot water in a spray bottle. For extra cleaning power, add 1/4 teaspoon liquid soap to the mixture.
  • Toilet bowl: Pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet before going to bed. In the morning, scrub and flush. For an extra-strength cleaner, add 1/4 cup vinegar to the borax.
  • Drains: Prevent clogged drains by using hair and food traps. To de-grease and sweeten sink and tub drains, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down drain followed by 1 cup vinegar; let bubble for 15 minutes; rinse with hot water. You might have to repeat the whole procedure more than once or leave the baking soda and vinegar to "cook" overnight.

  • General dusting is best done with a damp cloth. Dry dusting simply stirs up and moves it around. Also, try 1 teaspoon olive oil per 1/2 cup vinegar. Mix together in a bowl and apply with a soft cloth.
  • Furniture polish: Mix olive oil and vinegar in a one-to-one ratio and polish with a soft cloth.
  • Windows: Put 3 tablespoons vinegar per 1 quart water in a spray bottle. Some recommend using half vinegar and half water. For extra-dirty windows try this: 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap, 3 tablespoons vinegar and 2 cups of water. Shake well. The best way to get streak-free windows? Use newspaper instead of paper towels to wipe them.

  • Brass, copper, bronze and aluminum: To remove tarnish, rub metal with sliced lemons. For tough jobs, sprinkle baking soda on the lemon, then rub.
  • Sterling silver: Put a sheet of aluminum foil into a plastic or glass bowl. Sprinkle the foil with salt and baking soda, then fill the bowl with warm water. Just soak your silver in the bowl and the tarnish will migrate to the aluminum foil. Finally, rinse, dry and buff your silver with a soft cloth.

Vinegar and baking soda are great room fresheners. Vinegar deodorizes, while baking soda absorbs odors. A simple recipe of 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vinegar (or lemon juice) and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle can be spritzed in the air to remove odors.

  • Vacuuming is an important part of floor maintenance. We recommend using a machine with a HEPA filter, which traps very small particles that are otherwise blown back into the room in the vacuum's exhaust. No matter what kind of vacuum cleaner you use, be sure pass over carpet several times and more in heavy traffic areas.
  • Linoleum: For extra grease-cutting, try this formula: 1/4 cup washing soda with 1 tablespoon of liquid soap, 1/4 cup vinegar and 2 gallons hot water. Put the washing soda in the bucket first and add the liquid ingredients - this way the soda won't splash out. Caution: Do not use this formula on waxed floors! For an extra polish, combine 6 tablespoons of cornstarch per cup of water in a bucket.
  • Disinfect floors: Add 2 gallons of hot water to 1/2 cup of borax. (Put the borax in the bucket first, then add water to avoid splashing.)
  • Wood floors: Vinegar is a natural disinfectant, and it pulls dirt from wood. After a large party, I used 1 cup vinegar per pail of hot water to clean my wood floors - the smell disappeared immediately. You can also use it on other types of floors - it's a gentle yet very effective floor cleaner.
  • Carpeting And Rugs: Regular vacuuming will help keep carpets their cleanest. Sprinkle baking soda over the surface of the carpet and let it stand for 15 - 30 minutes before vacuuming to soak up and eliminate odors. CHEC recommends against the use of chemical carpet cleaners because of health concerns associated with their ingredients.

You need not invest in expensive fabric softeners. Add one-half to 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your machine. It effectively rids the laundry of soap residue and allows the fabric to be naturally soft as well as balancing the pH which will extend the life of the fabrics. The smell of vinegar dissipates upon drying and leaves the laundry smelling fresh. If you wish to add fragrance to the laundry apply 2 or 3 drops of essential oil to a damp washcloth and place in the clothes dryer along with the wet laundry. Many people like lavender for its nice clean smell and disinfecting properties.

Sweet Linens: Grind lavender buds or dried scented geranium leaves or dried lemon verbena leaves in a coffee mill or blender. When changing the linens on the beds, sprinkle a small amount of this powder on the mattress (or matress pad), then place the bottom sheet over and on the mattress. Since lavender has bug repelling properties, sleep time is not only sweet and relaxing, but reassuring as well. After placing fresh pillowcases on the pillows, sprinkle a small amount of this herbal powder inside the cases. Another good combination is a small amount of mint added to the lavender. Or, you might wish to make some sleep pillows.
  • Laundry brightener: Add 1/2 cup of strained lemon juice to the rinse cycle.
  • Detergent booster: To reduce the amount of laundry detergent you need to use, add baking soda or washing soda. These minerals soften the water, which increases the detergent's power. For liquid detergent, add 1/2 cup of soda at the beginning of the wash. For powdered detergent, add 1/2 cup of soda during the rinse cycle.
  • Bleach: Use hydrogen peroxide instead chlorine
  • Dry cleaning: Many delicate "dry clean only" items can be washed at home by hand. In general, it's best to use cool water and a mild liquid soap. Squeeze or wring gently and lay flat to dry.

If you discover mold and mildew in your house, first find the source of moisture and stop it. It's pointless to clean mold if it's only going to return!
  • To clean mold: Remember to wear gloves and a facemask, since mold spores can be inhaled. Use a stiff brush, a non-ammonia detergent and hot water to scrub mold off of non-porous surfaces. Use a stiff bristle toothbrush to get in between tiles. You can also use a paste of baking soda and water. Don't rinse.

Wood furniture polish
1/8 cup plain olive or other vegetable oil
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp vodka
10 drops oil of lavender (for smell only)

Window Cleaner
Place the following in a spritzer bottle and shake well. Use as you would any window cleaner product.
1/3 tsp liquid castile or other liquid vegetable based soap
3 tbsp cider vinegar or white vinegar
2 cups water
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