Clean green, $ave green

Almost without exception, homemade cleaners are less expensive, better for home and environmental health, and often more effective than prepared cleaners. For about $10, a complete inventory of natural cleaning supplies can make the house shine without the toxins, like bleach and ammonia, found in common cleaners.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Gently and beautifully cleans hardwood floors without dulling or stripping the finish. Add your favorite essential oil for pleasant, lasting fragrance.

Baking Soda: Buy the biggest box available; this has many uses, including scrubbing and deodorizing. Combine with a few drops of your favorite essential oil, sprinkle on carpets and leave overnight to absorb odors; vacuum in the morning. Sprinkle on wooden cutting boards with an equal part salt and scrub with half a lemon to remove oils and odors; rub board with a light coat of neutral food oil to protect the surface. Add two tablespoons of baking soda to boiling water and pour into dishes with stuck-on food; let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse. To eliminate odors and clogs, pour a cup of baking soda into toilets once a week, let it dissolve, then flush. Combine baking soda and water to rinse hair combs and brushes.

Club soda: Cleans chrome and countertops.

Essential Oils: These come in a wide range and add fragrance as well as beneficial antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, and include grapefruit, lavender, lemon, rosemary and rosewood. Add to baking soda or vinegar to boost cleaning power and leave a pleasant scent. Put a few drops inside the cardboard tube on a new roll of toilet paper, for a continuous air freshener. Orange essential oil can be diluted with water and used for cleaning and polishing wood. Pine essential oil is a good all-purpose cleaner, especially for tile and linoleum. Some people may have allergic reactions to some oils.

Lemon: As above, use with baking soda and salt on cutting boards. Use with baking soda to scrub kitchen and bathroom sinks. Sprinkle fresh-cut lemon with salt and wipe on marble to remove stains. Lemon juice will remove stuck-on particles from glassware.

Rubbing Alcohol: Removes hairspray on mirrors and glass.

White Vinegar: Like baking soda, this has numerous uses. Dilute one part to 12 of water in a spray bottle for streak-free cleaning of windows and mirrors. Dilute about ¼ cup to a gallon of water in a bucket with a drop of dish soap and a few drops of essential oils for a heavy-duty floor cleaner. Leave a bowl of vinegar standing in kitchen or bathroom to absorb odors (this reportedly works very well on smoke smells). Add it to the final rinse in a dishwasher to prevent spotting on glassware. Dampen a cloth with vinegar to polish stainless steel. Run through automatic coffee makers to remove hard water deposits (follow with three pots of water before making coffee). Removes soap residue in the shower. For a simple toilet cleaning, pour half gallon of vinegar in the toilet and leave it overnight.

If you have a favorite natural cleaning method, please submit it to teresa@coloradolovesgreen.com, for inclusion and credit in this article.

Published 06/24/2009 at http://www.ColoradoLovesGreen.com

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