How to Clean Everything With Just 3 All-Natural Cleaners
You don't have to spend a fortune to have a clean house. If I bought every cleaning product that's marketed to me, I would spend $1,000 and have nowhere to keep my linens. Instead, I avoid buying specialty products when I can and rely on a few staples that, when used in various combinations, can clean my entire house. (See also: Essential Cleaning Tricks)
I save a ton of money this way, and my cleaning supplies are natural, which means they're safer to use around my two-year-old. Here are the only three cleaning cleaning products you'll ever need to have a house Martha Stewart would be proud of.
I became a baking soda believer when my dog threw up on the carpet a week before I was scheduled to move out of my apartment. Baking soda saved the day. Since then, I've discovered dozens of household uses for baking soda. Here are some of my favorites. (See also: 27 Uses for Baking Soda)
Pet (or Other) Stains on Carpet
To remove a pet stain from your carpet, soak the stain in vinegar (see below), cover it with baking soda, let the baking soda dry, and then vacuum it up. Your carpet will be good as new — and it won't smell. (This works for non-pet stains, too.)
Stinky Couches (and Other Places)
On a related note, if your couch is starting to smell like a kennel, sprinkle some baking soda on it, let it rest for a while, and then vacuum up the baking soda. Baking soda also works for absorbing smells in closets, refrigerators, diaper pails, and other odoriferous parts of your house. (See also: How to Make a Crappy Couch Awesome)
Tubs, Tiles, and Sinks
The grittiness of baking soda makes it perfect for scrubbing up stains. Use a baking soda paste to clean your bathtub. Apply the paste to your tub and tile, then use a scrub brush to get rid of built-up stains.
If you have a glass-top stove, you know how annoying a boil-over or caked-on spill can be to clean up. Don't spend money on expensive specialty stove cleaners. Instead, make a baking soda paste, dip a rag in it, then scrub the stain. To get rid of really caked-on stains, soak them in water first.
Dining Room Table
When I spilled hot tea on my antique dining room table, I was devastated. I tried all of the traditional ways to get rid of the heat ring (mayonnaise, polish, cleaners), but nothing worked. My last-ditch effort was baking soda. I made a very fine paste, then very gently rubbed it into the stain in small a circular motion. It worked; my table looked brand new.
Vinegar is a miracle cleaner that you can use in the kitchen, bathroom, and around the house. It's up for even the toughest cleaning challenges. And although vinegar is pungent in its pure form, the odor lessens significantly when it's diluted. (See also: Household Products Vinegar Can Replace)
In Your Kitchen
In the kitchen, use vinegar to clean your coffee pot. Simply add pour a mixture that's half vinegar, half water into the reservoir and then run the coffee pot. To clean grease-covered a pan or countertop, soak a rag in vinegar, then scrub away the grease.
In Your Bathroom
In the bathroom, spray vinegar on your fixtures to make them sparkly. Dip a toothbrush in vinegar to clean grimy grout. Fight mildew by spraying your walls and shower or tub with undiluted vinegar, then scrubbing it off with a sponge or rag. Combined with baking soda, vinegar also unclogs drains (use a 2:1 ratio of vinegar to baking soda). Just pour the baking soda down the drain, then follow it with the vinegar.
Countertops, Windows, and Mirrors
You can also put a vinegar/water mixture in a spray bottle and use it as you would a multi-purpose cleaner to clean countertops and give windows and mirrors a streak-free shine.
Washing Machine Freshener
If your laundry comes out of the washer smelling rank (think gym clothes and sports uniforms), vinegar can be a lifesaver. Just add ½ cup to your wash along with your regular detergent, and your clothes will smell fresh and clean.
(Want even more ideas for ways to use vinegar? 250+ Ways to Use Vinegar)
Lemon juice can be used as a substitute for vinegar in many of the uses listed above, including shining your bathroom fixtures, bleaching grout, and giving windows and mirrors a streak-free wipe-down. It's also a good alternative if you really can't stand the smell of vinegar, but love lemon's fresh citrus scent. Plus, lemon also has uses of its own. (See also: Alternative Uses for Lemons)
Garbage Disposal Freshener
Lemon is great for cleaning a smelly garbage disposal. Squeeze some juice down the drain, then toss some peel in after it. Run the disposal, and your whole kitchen will smell fresh.
Cutting Board Stains
If your cutting board is covered in stains, rub a lemon on it. Let it soak for 15-20 minutes, then rinse it off. Your cutting board will look brand new.
Wine Glass Sparkler
Use lemon to make your wine glasses sparkle. Lemon juice also works on other glass, like windows, mirrors, and oven windows.
If your hands have a stench after preparing fish, garlic, or onions for dinner, rinse them with lemon juice or rub them with lemons to remove the odor.
Before you reach for a store-bought cleaning for your next cleaning project, consider giving baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice a try. You'll save money, and I bet the results will surprise you.
What are your favorite around-the-house cleaning uses for baking soda, vinegar, and lemons?