The next time you clean your house, try to do it without causing much harm to the environment.
Chemical cleaners are not the only things that will do a good job of ridding your home of stubborn dirt, according to an article by Jessica Kellner in the online site Care2.
She says three natural products—vinegar, baking soda and lemon—can be used to clean your whole house. They are versatile, not expensive and you probably have them already in your kitchen.
Kellner says, “Many of the chemicals used in conventional cleaning products are bad for human health, and using them actually pollutes the air inside our homes. These cleaners are also a health hazard for children and pets.”
After use, the chemicals go into the waterways and may leach into bodies of water, harming wildlife and potentially contaminating drinking water.
Kellner, editor of Natural Home & Garden magazine, a sustainable home and lifestyle magazine, says “chemical cleaners are simply not necessary.” Common household items can clean and disinfect just as well as commercial preparations without putting people’s health and the environment at risk.
She offers “formulas” to turn the natural products into effective cleaners.
To use vinegar as disinfectant, Kellner suggests mixing one part vinegar with four parts water. The all-purpose cleaning solution, she says, will disinfect anything from countertops to doorknobs.
To clean glass, combine 2 cups water, ¼ cup vinegar and ½ teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle. As for the toilet, Kellner says to pour 1 cup of vinegar into the toilet and let sit. Add a few tablespoons of baking soda for extra whitening power then use a toilet brush to remove rings, then flush. She says vinegar naturally deodorizes and kills germs.
For clogged drains, she recommends pouring ½ cup of baking soda down the drain followed by ½ cup of vinegar. “Cover the drain to keep fizzing action inside. After the fizzing subsides, follow with a liter or two of boiling water,” Kellner says. “Snaking” the drain or repeating the whole process may be needed in some cases.
A sponge dipped in vinegar can be used to clean ovens, countertops, cooking dishes and fan covers to cut grease.
Kellner says baking soda “is your No. 1 tool to absorb household odors: Pour a dusting of baking soda into each new garbage can lining; sprinkle baking soda on carpet odors, wait 10 minutes, then vacuum. Or leave dishes of baking soda in strategic spots to absorb odors.”
Baking soda also whitens porcelain, polishes silverware, removes scuff marks from the floor, removes caked-on food from pots and pans, removes dirt and grease from clothes, kills mildew and puts out grease fires.
Like vinegar, lemon cuts grease. Juice from two lemons and ½ cup of vinegar creates “a powerful grease-fighting cleaner,” Kellner says.
And lemon removes, not just covers up, bad odors, she says.
Lemon dissolves soap scum and hard water deposits and cleans cutting boards. Wooden cutting boards may be disinfected and freshened by rubbing a cut lemon over the surface.
Lemon can remove stubborn stains from countertops. It also has natural bleaching properties to brighten whites. Instead of commercial bleach, you may add ½ cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle.
Lemon scent can keep bugs away. Kellner suggests rubbing lemon juice or leaving lemon peels in bug-prone areas such as along baseboards, in the cracks of windowsills, in the backs of cabinets or cupboards and other areas where pest might enter your home.
For Kellner’s suggested mixtures, visit www.care2.com/greenliving/nontoxic-housekeeping-3-versatile-natural-cleaners.html.
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail [email protected]