When it comes to maintaining indoor air quality in your home, commercial cleaning products can be your enemy. While many of the products you find in stores offer dazzling promises of a cleaner home and grime-busting superpowers, they rarely mention that the fumes created by their ingredients aren’t the best for families to breathe on a regular basis. So what can you do?
This is a scenario where “grandma knows best.” When it comes to cleaning, many of the simple solutions from days past are still great options for the household of today. Not only are these solutions tried and true, but they are often cheaper than buying a collection of harsh chemical-laden cleaning products from the store. Let’s take a look at some options that are safer for your home air quality and won’t break the bank.
Best All-Purpose Cleaning Solution
When it comes to cleaning solution, this homemade mix dominates and it is deceptively simple to make – just mix one part Dawn dish soap to 2-4 parts white vinegar. This mix is surprisingly effective at cleaning multiple surfaces, especially any area requiring grease removal.
“But won’t my house smell like salad dressing?” Yes – while the vinegar is wet, which isn’t for very long. Once the vinegar dries, that smell goes away, leaving behind the fresh scent of a clean house.
For Basins, Showers, + Tubs
If you need to fight soap scum, a one-to-one mix of Dawn dish soap and white vinegar works wonders! This is truly a power cleaner that can bust through the toughest grime – just mix the ingredients together in a spray bottle, spray the area that needs to be cleaned, and let the mix sit for a few minutes. Chances are you’ll be able to wipe away the grime with a cloth.
For really stubborn soap scum, baking soda can be sprinkled on top of the solution as a scouring solution. Just scrub and rinse – you’ll love the results.
For The Shower Head
Have a shower head that is coated in mineral deposits? White vinegar can help with that as well. Take a small plastic Ziplock bag, fill it with vinegar, and then attach it to the shower head with a rubber band so that the shower head can soak in the liquid for a few hours. Remove the bag, wipe and rinse your shower head – the mineral deposits should be gone.
For The Toilet
Another instance where vinegar comes in handy – cleaning that toilet bowl. Just pour ½ cup of white vinegar into the bowl and let it soak for 30-60 minutes, depending on whether or not you have hard water. Give it a quick scrub and flush – the commode should look good as new.
If you are dealing with stubborn stains, try Borax. Add ½ cup to the bowl, give it a swirl with your toilet brush, and let it set overnight. By the next morning, the stains should be gone.
For The Oven
Commercially available oven cleaners can be especially troublesome when it comes to indoor air quality – those fumes are strong! But most people think there is no other way to clean an oven…not so!
On most newer ovens, there should be a self-clean setting. This brings the heat of the oven up to an extremely high temperature for between 2-4 hours, burning off anything in there that may have spilled and converting it to ash that can easily be wiped away. But for those who don’t have a self-cleaning option, there is another solution – baking soda.
Make a paste with baking soda and water. Remove the racks and spread the paste over the inside of your oven, then leave it to set for 12-24 hours. Use a scouring sponge to gently scrub away that cooked on grime. If you’re still having issues removing burnt on food, a little vinegar might help – the chemical reaction that occurs between vinegar and baking soda will help to remove stubborn bits of food.
For The Stovetop & Vent Hood
Need to cut through some greasy buildup on your stovetop and vent hood? Just a few teaspoons of Castile soap added to two cups hot water will help to cut right through that cooked on grease.
For The Garbage Disposal
We all know the garbage disposal can get extra stinky and can be difficult to clean. This is another instance where baking soda and vinegar come to the rescue. Just pour a little baking soda and white vinegar down the drain and let it work for about 30 minutes, then rinse with hot water while running the disposal. For extra freshness, you can also run a few lemon wedges through the disposal for a citrus-clean scent.
For Dust Busting
There is no need to invest in sprays, cleaners, and specialty dusters to keep the grime off of your shelves and surfaces. Sprays can coat surfaces and leave behind a residue that actually attracts dust. Specialty dusters, such as feather dusters, generally do a poor job of collecting dust. Instead, they just move it around, so that you and your family end up inhaling it while it resettles on other surfaces.
You just need two things for major dust busting – a microfiber cloth and a little water. The microfiber cloth actually traps the dust, removing it from the surfaces of your home completely. Just spritz the cloth with enough water for it to be slightly damp, and dust away.
For The Floor
A great all-purpose floor cleaning solution? A ¼ cup Castile soap mixed with two gallons of hot water. This solution works for most floors (except carpet, obviously), cutting through grease and grime quickly. If your floors are extra dirty, try adding a ¼ cup vinegar to help lift stubborn dirt.
For The Windows
Could cleaning windows be any easier? Just mix two tablespoons of white vinegar to two cups of distilled water in a spray bottle. This is an instance where using distilled water is a very good idea, as regular tap water can contain minerals that will leave your windows cloudy.
Just spritz a little of the mixture on your windows and wipe down with old newspapers – they work wonders for eliminating lint.
Vinegar, But Better
Just can’t deal with the plain vinegar smell, even though it goes away once the vinegar is dry? We understand…but don’t think that gives you a pass to use those air quality-destroying solutions from the store. Lessen the vinegar odor by making it smell like citrus! Just take leftover citrus peels, put them in a jar, and then cover with distilled white vinegar. Leave this mix to sit for at least a week, and then strain the liquid to remove any small bits of peel that could cause issues with cleaning. Voilà! Citrus cleaner that smells amazing!