by Linda Mason Hunter
Cleaning your house with low-toxic cleansers you make yourself is an excellent way to start your green home-maintenance program. Not only are these cleansers healthy and effective, they smell good, cost less than commercial products, don't pollute indoor air, and only take a minute to make.
Begin by sorting out the area where you keep your cleaning products. Box up all commercial cleansers - ammonia, oven cleaners, furniture polish, disinfectant, toilet cleaner. Tighten the lids and store the cleansers in the garage until your community's next hazardous-waste collection day.
Now you're ready to replace those synthetic chemicals with natural products you make yourself using ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen:
The most common ingredients are:
Distilled white vinegar
Although you may use these recipes to stock your green cleaning cupboard, most work best when freshly mixed.
General Cleaner and Disinfectant
Dissolve 1 cup borax in a gallon of warm water
Sprinkle borax, baking powder or dry table salt on a damp sponge; scour and rinse. Or rub the area to be cleaned with half a lemon dipped in borax.
Rinse and dry with a soft cloth.
Most automatic dishwashing detergents contain phosphates that pollute waterways. An environmentally preferred alternative is one part borax and one part washing soda. If you live in a hard-water area, you may have to adjust the proportions to avoid scum forming on dishes.
Detergents were designed to clean synthetic fibers. Natural fibers can be adequately cleaned with natural substances. Use a mixture of half borax and half washing soda (the same mixture can be used in the dishwasher). To keep colors from fading, add a drop or two of vinegar in the laundry water.
Dissolve 1 cup baking soda and one cup vinegar in boiling water and pour down the drain. Continue to flush with hot tap water until the clog breaks.
Let the oven cool, then sprinkle salt on the spill right away. Let it cool for a few minutes, then scrape the spill away and wash the area clean. Use baking soda for scouring.
Use a solution of baking soda and water or vinegar for the bowl. Sprinkle baking soda around the rim. Scrub with toilet brush as needed. This solution will clean and deodorize.
Mix two parts cooking oil with one part lemon juice. Apply to furniture with a soft cloth and wipe it dry.
A mixture of 1/4-cup vinegar to one gallon of water removes most dirt without scrubbing and doesn't leave a film.