Carpet shampoo, wooden floor cleaner, window polish, dishwashing liquid, bathroom cleaner, shower spray, kitchen cleaner and oven cream: the list of cleaning products marketed and sold to the average family home goes on and on. Even ‘all-purpose’ cleaners often do have a purpose and are labelled ‘all-purpose antibacterial surface spray’ or similar.
Marketing genius means we have been sold the idea that these products are all essential, but some canny and frugal householders have started to realize that there are two or three simple, everyday ingredients that can be used to hygienically clean just about anything. This article will focus on lemons, baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and white vinegar.
These ingredients will tackle just about any cleaning job in the home as efficiently as many branded cleaners. Essential oils can also be added to help with specific cleaning needs or to add a pleasant scent. While there is no right or wrong way to tackle each job, some methods work best for different cleaning needs. Here are a few of the more common.
Removing problem smells, especially from fabric or carpets, can seem like a difficult job. Masking the odor with scents is short-lived and even cleaning the problem area thoroughly does not always work on stubborn smells. Dried urine, spilled milk and smoke are examples. For carpets, sprinkle baking soda on the problem area and leave for a few hours or overnight before vacuuming it up. Other areas can be treated with white vinegar (the strong vinegar small will fade as it dries) sprayed on and wiped over or left out in a bowl overnight.
Many frugal cleaners swear by white vinegar added to their laundry in place of a softener. Its anti-bacterial properties help to clean the clothes and it is also very effective at reducing lime scale build-up in the washing machine.
Vinegar diluted with water is ideal for general surface cleaning. Fill an empty spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture and spray and wipe as you would with any all-surface cleaner. For more stubborn stains or marks baking soda is a great solution and provides a more abrasive clean. Lemon juice can be used for a fresh smelling finish.
Some stains need a little more than a spray and a quick wipe. If you have a mark on a hard surface that is proving difficult to clean, try making a paste with baking soda and a little water. Apply it and scrub well with a stiff brush (for small spaces use an old toothbrush). Use this paste to whiten grey or black grout; apply and leave overnight before wiping off in the morning.
There are many reasons to choose more natural options for cleaning; allergies or sensitivity to chemicals, environmental concerns or budgeting reasons being some of the most common. While the uses listed here are just a small selection, these simple ingredients really will work for cleaning a huge variety of surfaces. A little experimentation will go a long way.