Sodium bicarbonate is not just for making biscuits and corn bread. Use it to remove odors from refrigerators, freezers, drains,
carpets and upholstery; put out grease fires; polish kitchen surfaces and utensils; remove stains; and brush your teeth. Dissolve
4 tablespoons in a quart of warm water to make an all-purpose cleaner. Add it to vinegar to clean toilets. Or clean tubs and tiles
by rubbing it onto the surface with a damp sponge.
Sodium borate is a natural mineral made famous by the 20-mule teams hauling it out of Death Valley. Borax dissolves in water
and can be used as an alternative to bleach to kill mold, mildew and bacteria, remove stains and improve the cleaning power of
soap, according to the EPA. Mix it with sugar to kill cockroaches. Mix half a cup into a gallon of hot water to disinfect and
deodorize. Add it to lemon juice to clean toilets. Put half a cup in the bottom of garbage or diaper pails to block odor-causing
mold and bacteria.
A derivative of corn, this powder can be used to starch clothes; clean windows, carpets and rugs; polish furniture; and absorb
grease and oil. Mix it with vinegar and water to make a window and glass cleaner. Make a paste with water to remove fresh
blood stains. And mix with dry-cleaning fluid to remove grease, crayon or food stains from wallpaper.
The juice of this fruit contains citric acid and can be used as an alternative to bleach to clean and deodorize your home,
according to the EPA. Mix it with baking soda to create a brass polish, or mix it with water for a window and glass cleaner. Add
half a cup of juice to 1 cup of olive oil to make furniture polish. Rub a cut lemon on chopping blocks to sanitize them; to remove
stains from cutting boards, rub in the juice from one lemon and let it stand 20 minutes before rinsing. The juice can also be used
to remove stains from clothing. Run the peel of a lemon through the garbage disposal to deodorize the drain.
Otherwise known as sodium chloride, this kitchen staple isn't just for seasoning food. Mix it with vinegar for an all-purpose
cleaner or brass polish. Add it to vinegar and flour to make a pewter polish. Add a tablespoon of salt to a cup of white vinegar in
a pot of boiling water to clean tarnished copper. Or add a teaspoon each of salt and baking soda to an aluminum-foil-lined pan of
boiling water to clean and polish silver. For drain cleaner, add half a cup of salt to a quart of hot water. And sprinkle salt on plain
paper and run a hot, dry iron over it to clean the iron plate.
Vinegar, made from soured juices, grains or wines, contains about 5 percent acetic acid, giving it the ability to dissolve grease;
remove soap, mildew or wax; and clean windows, carpets and exteriors. It can be used straight or mixed in equal parts with
water to disinfect and deodorize your home, according to the EPA. Undiluted, it can clean toilet bowls, while a water-vinegar mix
can be sprayed on bath and kitchen surfaces and floors to clean and remove soap scum. Put partially filled dishes of vinegar
around the kitchen to fight cooking odors. Rub it on your hands when slicing onions to eliminate the smell. Mix oil and vinegar in
equal parts for a wood floor cleaner
TSP is a mix of phosphoric acid and soda ash. While toxic if swallowed, it can be used to remove old paint or clean drains, and
it's less poisonous or caustic than other chemicals and has no fumes. TSP is sold at hardware stores as a white powder.
Another water-soluble white powder, sodium carbonate, is sold as washing soda and can be used to disinfect, remove grease
and other stains, soften water and clean clothes.
Simple castile or vegetable-oil soaps can be used as a shampoo or body cleanser. Olive oil-based soaps are said to be gentlest
to the skin. Unscented, biodegradable soaps come in liquids, flakes, powders or bars. Avoid those with petroleum products for
the safest cleanser. To make an all-purpose liquid soap, dissolve pieces of bar soap in warm water. When using soap in the
laundry, add vinegar to keep colors bright, or add baking soda to soften and freshen fabrics. Mild soaps are also good for
handwashing silks and wools
Herbs and essential oils
These plants and their oils can be used to disinfect surfaces and give them a fresh fragrance. Tea tree oil, lavender, clove and
grapefruit seed extract are considered good antiseptics. Make a spray to disinfect and kill mold by adding a teaspoon of
essential oil to two cups of water. Other oils that can be used include thyme, sweet orange, lemongrass, rose, eucalyptus,
cinnamon, rosemary, birch and pine. Adding a teaspoon of washing soda, two teaspoons of borax and half a teaspoon of liquid
soap to a hot-water mix makes this an all-purpose cleanser. Let the liquid remain on a surface 15 minutes before wiping off.