Floor Cleaner and Polish
- Vinyl and Linoleum: Mix 1 cup vinegar and a few drops of olive oil in 1 gallon warm water. Use sparingly on linoleum.
- Wood: For routine cleaning, a solution of 1/4 cup vinegar to a half gallon of warm water can effectively degrime wood floors. Be sure you know what finish was used on your wood before using water, and test a small area first. Use a barely damp mop to avoid harming finish. For polishing, apply a thin coat of 1:1 vegetable oil and vinegar and rub in well. For damp-mopping wood floors, mix equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water. Add 15 drops of pure peppermint oil; shake to mix.
- Painted Wood: Mix 1 teaspoon of washing soda into 1 gallon (4L) hot water.
- Brick and Stone Tiles: Mix 1 cup white vinegar in 1 gallon (4L) water; rinse with clear water. Most floor surfaces can be easily cleaned using a solution of vinegar and water.
- Furniture Polish: For varnished wood, add a few drops of lemon essential oil into a 1/2 cup warm water. Mix well and spray onto a soft cotton cloth. Cloth should only be slightly damp. Wipe furniture with the cloth, and finish by wiping once more using a dry soft cotton cloth.
For unvarnished wood, mix 2 teaspoons each of olive oil and lemon juice and apply a small amount to a soft cotton cloth. Wring the cloth to spread the mixture further into the material and apply to the furniture using wide strokes. This helps distribute the oil evenly.
Garbage Disposal Cleaner
If you use a garbage disposal, you can clean it by running the empty half of a used lemon or a handful of citrus peels through it. Alternatively, put in a half cup of baking soda followed by a cup of white vinegar and let it fizz before flushing with water.
Stains from hard water or metal pipes can often be removed with a pumice stone, sanding sponge, or glass cleaning block. (Glass cleaning blocks are also excellent options for the kitchen cleaning and barbecue.) Spraying the area with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and allowing to sit overnight before scrubbing with a mildly abrasive sponge, toothbrush, or natural fiber cloth may do the trick as well. You can also try soaking the area with lemon juice and covering with salt. Allow to sit overnight and rinse.
Mix 2 cups of washing soda with the gratings from one 5-ounce bar of castile soap. Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads. Commercial natural, biodegradable laundry detergents are also now available online and in select stores. Read more in our article, Is Your Laundry Detergent Toxic? You can also try Eco Nuts, a laundry detergent made from the dried fruit of the soapberry tree.
You can reduce lime deposits in your teakettle by putting in 1/2 cup (125ml) white vinegar and 2 cups water, and gently boiling for a few minutes. Rinse well with fresh water while kettle is still warm. To remove lime scale on bathroom fixtures, squeeze lemon juice onto affected areas and let sit for several minutes before wiping clean with a wet cloth.
Marks on Walls and Painted Surfaces
Many ink spots, pencil, crayon, or marker spots can be cleaned from painted surfaces using baking soda applied to a damp sponge. Rub gently, then wipe and rinse.
Metal Cleaners and Polishes
- Aluminum: Using a soft cloth, clean with a solution of cream of tartar and water.
- Brass or Bronze: Polish with a soft cloth dipped in lemon juice and baking-soda solution, or vinegar and salt solution. Another method is to apply a dab of ketchup on a soft cloth and rub over tarnished spots.
- Cast Iron: Cast iron pans are usually seasoned before use. Since soap and water can strip the seasoning, avoid soap and prolonged contact with water. Immediately after use, clean cast iron with plain hot water and a sponge. Stuck on food can be removed with a paste made of coarse salt and water. Dry thoroughly with a clean towel and coat with a layer of oil.
- Chrome: Polish with lemon oil, vinegar, or aluminum foil with the shiny side out.
- Copper: Soak a cotton rag in a pot of boiling water with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 cup of white vinegar. Apply to copper while hot; let cool, then wipe clean. For tougher jobs, sprinkle baking soda or lemon juice on a soft cloth, then wipe. For copper cookware, sprinkle a lemon wedge with salt, then scrub. A simpler method is to apply a dab of ketchup on a soft cloth and rub over tarnished spots.
- Gold: Clean with toothpaste, or a paste of salt, vinegar, and flour.
- Silver: Line a pan with aluminum foil and fill with water; add a teaspoon each of baking soda and salt. Bring to a boil and immerse silver. Polish with soft cloth.
- Stainless Steel: clean with a cloth dampened with undiluted white vinegar or olive oil. For stainless cookware, mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of water and apply using a soft cloth. Wipe dry using a clean cloth. For stainless steel sinks, pour some baking soda on an absorbent cloth to clean, then rinse and wipe dry using a clean cloth.
Mold and Mildew
Use white vinegar or lemon juice full strength. Apply with a sponge or scrubby.
Salt is another excellent home cleaning ingredient. Use salt to clean cast iron, as an ingredient in homemade dishwasher soap, or combined with lime to remove rust.
The common mothball is made of paradichlorobenzene, which is harmful to liver and kidneys. Cedar chips in a cheesecloth square, or cedar oil in an absorbent cloth will repel moths. The cedar should be ‘aromatic cedar’, also referred to as juniper in some areas. Cedar chips are available at many craft supply stores, or make your own using a plane and a block of cedar from the lumberyard.
Homemade moth-repelling sachets can also be made with lavender, rosemary, vetiver and rose petals. Dried lemon peel is also a natural moth deterrent. Simply toss into clothes chest, or tie in cheesecloth and hang in the closet. You an also try setting moth traps in select areas for monitoring infestations.
Oil and Grease Spots
For small spills on the garage floor, add baking soda and scrub with wet brush. Or use CitraSolv nontoxic degreaser.
Moisten oven surfaces with sponge and water. Use ¾ cup baking soda, ¼ cup salt and ¼ cup water to make a thick paste, and spread throughout oven interior. (Avoid bare metal and any openings.) Let sit overnight. Remove with spatula and wipe clean. Rub gently with fine steel wool for tough spots.