Our Germ Buster Spray is Great for keeping surfaces clean and sanitized.
Here are some homemade natural cleaning tips:
The acid in lemon juice removes dirt and rust stains. It’s especially effective when mixed with salt, which makes “an excellent scouring paste,” says Karyn Siegel-Maier, author of The Naturally Clean Home ($9, amazon.com).
Price: About 50 cents a lemon.
Use Them to Clean Your…
Countertops: Dip the cut side of a lemon half in baking soda to tackle countertops; wipe with a wet sponge and dry. Don’t use on delicate stone, like marble, or stainless steel (it may discolor).
Cutting boards: To remove tough food stains from light wood and plastic cutting boards, slice a lemon in half, squeeze onto the soiled surface, rub, and let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing.
Dishes: To increase the grease-cutting power of your dishwashing detergent, add a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Faucets: Combat lime scale by rubbing lemon juice onto the taps and letting it sit overnight. Wipe with a damp cloth.
Garbage disposal: Cut a lemon in half, then run both pieces through the disposal. “The lemon cleans it and makes it smell great,” says Linda Mason Hunter, a coauthor of Green Clean ($13.50, amazon.com).
Grout: Spilled morning coffee on your tile countertop or backsplash? Here’s how to tackle grout stains: Add lemon juice to 1 or 2 teaspoons cream of tartar (an acidic salt that acts as a natural bleaching agent) to make a paste. Apply with a toothbrush, then rinse.
Hands: When you touch raw fish, the smell can linger on your fingers. Rub your hands with lemon juice, which will neutralize the odor.
Laundry: To brighten whites, add 1/2 cup lemon juice to the rinse cycle for a normal-size load.
Plastic food-storage containers: To bleach stains from tomato soup and other acidic foods on dishwasher-safe items, rub lemon juice on the spots, let dry in a sunny place, then wash as usual.
Extracted from plants, some essential oils can kill bacteria and mold. They’re very strong, so don’t go overboard: One drop of peppermint oil is as potent as 30 cups of peppermint tea.
Price: $14 for 5 milliliters at health-food stores.
Use Them to Clean Your…
Combs and brushes: Fill a container with 1½ cups water, ½ cup distilled white vinegar, and 20 drops tea-tree, lavender, or eucalyptus oil. Soak combs and brushes for 20 minutes. Rinse and air-dry.
Scuffed floors: Apply two to four drops of tea-tree oil to the spots. Wipe excess oil with a cloth and rub in distilled white vinegar.
Gum-encrusted items: Orange oil is great at removing this sticky offender from various materials. (Don’t worry: It shouldn’t stain fabrics. But do launder immediately.) Apply with a cotton ball.
Shower doors: Wipe scum-covered glass doors with a few drops of lemon oil twice a month. It will protect them from grime buildup.
Toilets: Add 2 teaspoons tea-tree oil and 2 cups water to a spray bottle. Shake, then spritz along the toilet’s inside rim. Let sit for 30 minutes; scrub. You can also place a few drops of your favorite oil on the inside of the toilet-paper tube. “Every time the paper is used, the scent will be released,” says Siegel-Maier.
Windows: Mix 2 ounces water and 10 drops lavender or lemongrass oil to wipe grime off windows. Bonus: These oils may repel flies.
This acidic wonder can wipe out tarnish, soap scum, mineral deposits, and more. Among natural cleaners, it’s the clear champ. Distilled white vinegar creates an environment that inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, and some bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, says Jeffrey Hollender, author of Naturally Clean ($18, amazon.com).
Price: About $1.80 for a quart at supermarkets.
Use It to Clean Your…
Coffeemaker: Pour equal parts vinegar and water into the machine’s water chamber, then switch on the brew cycle. Halfway through, turn off the coffeemaker and let the solution sit for about an hour. Turn it on again to complete the cycle, then run several cycles with clean water.
Dishwasher: To disinfect the interior of the machine, pour ½ cup vinegar into the reservoir and run an empty cycle, says Hunter. Or place a small bowl filled with vinegar on the bottom rack and run an empty cycle.
Drains: Clean drains―and the pipes they’re attached to―by pouring vinegar down them. After 30 minutes, flush with cold water.
Floors: Add ¼ cup vinegar to a bucket of warm water to clean almost any type of floor except marble (vinegar can scratch it) or wood (vinegar can strip it).
Glassware: For spotless hand-washed glasses, add 1 cup vinegar to the rinse water.
Moldy walls: Spray vinegar on the affected areas. After about 15 minutes, rinse and let dry thoroughly.
Showerheads: To combat mineral deposits, pour vinegar into a plastic grocery bag and knot the handles over the neck of the showerhead, securing with rubber bands. Let soak overnight. Rinse with water in the morning.
Steam iron: To get rid of mineral deposits, fill the iron with equal parts vinegar and water; press the steam button. Turn off, let cool, empty, and rinse.
Windows: Mix ¼ cup vinegar, 2 cups water, and a squirt of liquid Castile soap in a spray bottle. Spritz windows and wipe with a sheet of newspaper.