How To

The Best All-Natural Cleaners

Store-bought cleaners get under my skin like grease under fingernails. These cleaning products are ridiculously over-priced, marketed to appear specialized (so that you need a particular potion for each nook and cranny), and full of harsh chemicals. Why not turn to natural cleaners and save a bundle? I’ve got solutions for each spec of dirt.

Kitchen sink stains

Sprinkle a few tablespoons of baking soda into your wet porcelain sink. Let sit for a minute, then scrub with steel wool. Rinse and discover your sink is actually a crisp, white color!

Bathroom tile and tub grime

Grab a damp rag and your box of baking soda. Toss soda liberally onto the tile and your rag and then scrub away. Don’t worry if some tiles dry while you are scrubbing. Just rinse with warm water and you’ll see the full effect of your cleaning when the tiles dry.

Bathroom germs and mildew

Wipe down door handles, fixtures, and mildewy areas with a rag damp with vinegar.

Stinky clothes

Add a quarter cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener. Vinegar, especially the white kind, does a mean job of removing odors.

Underarm stains

Soak yellowing T-shirts overnight in a mixture of half white vinegar, half water. If the stains persist, strengthen the concentration of vinegar.

Smelly kitchen sink

Drop quarter to a half a lemon into the garbage disposal and let it run with plenty of water. You can also pour a cup of vinegar into your sink to remove any unwanted odors. If the stink persists, dump a cup of boiling water into the drain, let it sit 10 minutes, then rise with vinegar.

Animal odors

Dampen a rag with vinegar and wipe up animal urine and stains from carpet and floors.

Murky windows

Never buy Windex again. Spritz windows with vinegar, then wipe down with a rag or newspaper. Or, add two tablespoons of ammonia to one quart of water and mix in a spray bottle. Spritz and wipe down with a rag or newspaper.

Toilet rings

Spray plenty of vinegar on the toilet stains, let it sit a minute, then scrub off. Repeat, if needed.

Moldy anything

Spritz liberally with vinegar, let sit a few minutes, then wipe clean.

Stains on copper-bottomed cookware

Mix vinegar with salt to form a paste. Rub paste onto stains, let sit, then scrub off with steel wool pads.

Food-splattered microwave

Mix baking soda and lemon juice and rub it on all the dirty surfaces. Apply extra baking soda to stubborn food bits. Wipe clean with vinegar.

Coffee maker residue

Run your percolator with a cup of vinegar and water. Run again with just water, then you’re ready to make a clean pot of joe!

Food-crusted oven

Wipe dirty surfaces with a damp rag and plenty of baking soda. Let baking soda sit a few minutes on crusty parts before wiping down.

Dull furniture

Wipe down wood furniture and cabinets with mineral oil.

Musty wet clothes in the washer

Rewash with a tablespoon of ammonia, sans detergent or soap.

Tarnished silver

Line a pan with aluminum foil, then place dull silver on bottom of pan. Mix one cup of baking soda with one gallon hot water, then cover silver entirely.

Dirty walls

Dampen a rag or sponge and sprinkle with baking soda. Rub down walls, then rinse with clean rag or sponge. This even removes crayon marks!

Glass pan stains

Soak glass pans in soapy water. Ball up a piece of aluminum foil and scrub. You’ll be surprised at how well this technique cleans your pans!

Looking for more ways to save on green household products? We’ve got you covered.

Julia Scott writes the money-saving blog, BargainBabe.com.