Tis’ the season to break out the rubber gloves and scrubbing sponges. If you’re gathering spring-cleaning supplies to give your home a once over, consider looking no further than your fridge and pantry for the things you need to make your domicile sparkle. In fact, if you have harsh, store-bought cleaners in your home, consider kicking-them-to-the-curb with whatever else makes your discard pile. Though arguably “effective,” these heavy hitters contain harsh chemicals – think, formaldehyde and chloroform – which have been linked to skin irritations, asthma, endocrine disruption, cancer and more.
The best way to keep that elbow grease from going to waste by spreading toxic chemicals throughout your home is by turning to mother nature. The following 5 ingredients, which you likely already own, can disinfect, polish and scrub with the best of ‘em and, most importantly, give you the peace of mind that your home is both clean and safe.
Lemons contain antibacterial properties, which makes them naturally disinfectant. Plus, nothing spells “clean” like a refreshing lemon scent. Here’s how to make them work for you.
- Remove stains and disinfect wooden cutting boards. Sprinkle the cutting board with coarse salt. Cut a lemon in half and then scour the board using the cut side of the lemon.
- Scrub pots and pans. Use the same method as above. This works especially well for removing water stains and shining copper-bottomed pots and pans.
- Cut garbage disposal odor. Cut a lemon into chunks and place in the garbage disposal. Turn on the disposal while running cool water to banish odors and bacteria.
- Clean your microwave. It’s easy for food particles to build up in the microwave. Rather than scrubbing away at stuck-on food, first microwave a lemon in a bowl of water for 3 minutes. Let it stand for 5 minutes without opening the door. Then open and wipe clean. Easy!
Here are additional ways to use lemons for cleaning.
Salt makes a great abrasive cleaner. A word of caution, because it’s so effective, only use it where scratching is not an issue.
- Remove soap scum and mildew. Mix salt with baking soda to form a paste. Coat the paste on a sponge and use to scour the sink, bathtub, grout or anywhere else grime accumulates. Bonus, this blend also whitens.
- Tackle hard-to-clean pots. For pots and pans that “need to soak” before cleaning, consider adding 3 tablespoons of salt and only a few inches of water. The salt helps break down food particles making them easier to clean.
Distilled vinegar is perhaps the most well-known natural cleaner and for good reason: it’s economical and versatile. Vinegar’s acidity makes it particularly effective, helping it dissolve soap scum, glue from stickers and even red wine stains. It truly is the wonder ingredient. For some, vinegar’s smell can be intense. Luckily, it does dissipate as it dries. You can also add essential oils for a more fragrant cleaning experience.
- Use it for, well, nearly everything. Replace your all-purpose cleaner with a vinegar blend to use on countertops, sinks, appliances and floors. Here’s a recipe, which uses fragrant eucalyptus oil.
- For Spotless Hand wash dishes. Add one cup of vinegar to the rinse water.
- Windows. From Real Simple: Mix ¼ cup vinegar, 2 cups water, and a squirt of liquid Castile soap in a spray bottle. Spritz windows and wipe with a sheet of newspaper.”
Go here for more ways to utilize vinegar.
Tea Tree Oil
Native to Australia, oil from theMelaleuca Plant (aka tea-tree oil) has known antibacterial and antifungal properties making it a great disinfectant. From acne to Psoriasis, tea tree is also often used to treat health conditions. In your home, use it anywhere you want to make sure you’re killing harmful bacteria and germs.
- Disinfect Toilets. Add 2 drops of tea tree to 2 cups of water to create a disinfectant spray.
The Arm & Hammer that may be living in the back of your fridge is good for more than dissolving odors and the occasional batch of cookies. Here are some of our favorite spring-cleaning uses.
- Remove scuffs from the floor. Sprinkle baking soda on the scuff and wipe clean with a damp cloth.
- Deodorize carpets. Sprinkle baking soda on the floor, let sit for several minutes and then vacuum.
- Brighten tubs and sinks. Mix with salt to form a paste and use as a scrub on sinks and bathtubs.