Keeping your house clean can certainly be a challenge sometimes, especially when you have two young boys running around the house like I do. Not only do they take up plenty of my time and attention, but it seems like everywhere they go, they leave messes behind! Cleaning the house can also take a chunk out of your household budget, since cleaning supplies can be pricey, and goodness knows our grocery bill’s high enough. But it doesn’t have to be this way: I make a lot of my own cleaning supplies, using things that I already keep around the house. Not only is it cheaper to use these simple tricks for keeping your house clean, but it’s simple and it’s eco-friendly, too.
In the Kitchen
A couple of my favorite cleaning ingredients are probably already in your kitchen cupboard: white vinegar and baking soda. These items are both eco-friendly and versatile. For instance, if you mix up a solution of four tablespoons of baking soda in a quart of warm water, it makes a good all-purpose cleaner for your kitchen counters and inside of your fridge. (It’s not a bad idea to keep a bottle of this by your desk at the office, too, to keep your work area clean and fresh.) A paste made from baking soda and water also makes a good scrub for stubborn stains, like those brown marks inside of your coffee mugs that just won’t come off. It works well on greasy stovetops, too.
Vinegar makes a great floor cleaner: Just mix it with hot water and mop. And if you add a cup to your dishwasher and run the rinse cycle, it’ll remove hard-water stains. But vinegar and baking soda aren’t the only great cleaners found in your kitchen. For instance, you can get your pots and pans squeaky-clean by scrubbing it with a heavily salted half a lemon.
In the Bathroom
One of my favorite green cleaning solutions comes in especially handy in the bathroom. Make your own glass cleaner by combining two cups of water and a half-cup of vinegar. Pour this into a spray bottle, and you’ll wonder why you ever thought you needed Windex! Vinegar is also good for the mineral buildup that makes your shower head spray everywhere but straight down. Fill a plastic bag with vinegar, use a rubber band to attach it to the shower head, and leave it overnight, and it’ll dissolve all of that nasty buildup. And to clean your toilet; put equal parts baking soda and vinegar into the toilet bowl, let them fizz and foam, then scrub with a toilet brush.
Around the House
Remember that stuff your mom used to buy and sprinkle all over the carpet before she vacuumed? It turns out that you already have a cheap, all-natural substitute: baking soda. If you want it to smell nice, just add a little of your favorite essential oil to the baking soda, sprinkle it on the carpet, and vacuum to freshen up the rugs and remove odors.
If your wood furniture has seen better days, there’s an easy fix for that: Combine a half-cup of lemon juice with a cup of olive oil to make your own furniture polish. And, if the whole house smells a bit stale, don’t reach for a can of aerosol air freshener; simply grab your favorite aromatic spices, fruit peels, and/or essential oils and boil them in a saucepan on the stove. You could also try the trick a lot of real estate agents use to make a house smell like a home: Bake cookies! The kids are sure to appreciate that.