Eco-Friendly Home: DIY Cleaning Products
Eco-Friendly Home: DIY Cleaning Products

by Katie Kretschmer

These effective, eco-friendly cleaning products are simple enough you can make them yourself

Looking to create a more eco-friendly home?

One of the best ways to go green and save money at the same time is to make your own household cleaning products. With just a handful of ingredients (many of them probably already in your pantry), you can whip up all the cleaners you need to keep your kitchen, bathroom and whole house clean and odor- and germ-free without toxic chemicals.

With the exception of a couple common -- and safe -- household products such as hydrogen peroxide and Borax, all the basic ingredients used below are edible: distilled white vinegar, baking soda, kosher salt and lemon. A few drops of an essential oil -- citrus, lavender or eucalyptus, for example -- will add a fresh scent.

Used in various combinations, you can tackle just about every cleaning project around your home.

Drain Cleaner

1. If you ever made a volcano in science class, you'll understand the properties at work in this homemade drain-cleaning solution. Pour ½ cup baking soda followed by 1 cup distilled vinegar down a stopped-up drain.

Wait 15 minutes and then pour 4 cups hot (not boiling) water down the drain.

Mildew and Mold

2. Combine one-half cup hydrogen peroxide with a cup of water in a spray bottle. Spritz on problem areas and wait an hour before wiping down the surface with a rag.

3. Make a paste from equal parts distilled white vinegar and Borax (an all-natural mineral powder that disinfects, cleans and deodorizes). Apply to moldy or mildewed grout and let sit for at least an hour.

Bathroom Disinfectant

4. Mix equal parts baking soda, Borax and Kosher salt. Sprinkle on the tile, sink, tub, vanity top and toilet -- any place you would use a powder cleanser.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

5. Pour one-quarter cup baking soda and 1 cup distilled white vinegar around the bowl. Let it sit 15 minutes, then scrub and flush.

Glass and Mirrors

6. Mix 4 cups of warm water and one-quarter cup distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Rather than paper towels or cloth, use old newspapers for a streak-free finish: Newsprint will leave no lint.

All-Purpose Kitchen Cleaner

7. Fill a clean spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water (add a few drops of an essential oil such as orange or lemon if you want to cut the vinegar smell). Use it to clean appliances, countertops, even the kitchen sink. And for a non-scratch abrasive cleaner, sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge.

Silver Polish

8. This method makes quick work of your silver flatware after a party or holiday meal, but it isn't as effective for large pieces. Line the bottom of a glass baking dish (large enough to hold your silverware) with aluminum foil. Bring 2 liters of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda to a boil and pour into dish. Place silverware a few pieces at a time into the dish for 10 or 15 seconds, then remove with tongs. For larger pieces, make a past of baking soda and water. Rub onto tarnished surfaces with a soft cotton cloth and rinse.

Furniture Polish

9. Combine the juice of one lemon -- about a half a cup, straining out the pulp and seeds -- with a cup of olive oil in a jar with a tight lid. Shake well to emulsify. Use on a soft cloth to clean and recondition wood furniture.

Carpet Cleaners

10. To freshen carpet odors, sprinkle with baking soda and wait an hour, then vacuum.

11. For carpet stains, spray with a solution of vinegar and water and let sit for 15 minutes, then use a brush and warm soapy water to clean the stained area. For fresh grease spots, dust generously with corn starch, wait 15 minutes and then vacuum.

Katie Kretschmer is a writer and editor whose work touches all areas of style -- from fashion, art and design to crafts, decorating and DIY.

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