Organic Cleaning Supplies: Using Old Favorites for a Not-So-New Purpose

We all know the dangers of using modern cleaning products. They’re terrible for the environment, toxic for our children and can do untold damage to anyone who uses them without the proper protective gear. So we buy organic, environment friendly, non-toxic cleaning supplies. But did you know that you have everything you’ll ever need to make your home sparkle and shine, right in your own kitchen?

That’s right! Hundreds of years ago, before the introduction of chemical cleaners, our forefathers (and mothers) knew how to keep their homes clean using only natural products we now take for granted. No noxious fumes, no caustic acids; just pure, all natural ingredients that most of us still keep in our cupboards and pantries today. So, we wanted to reintroduce you to a few of our old favorites that you may have forgotten.

Baking Soda –

Who’d have thought that this marvelous substance most of us have kept in our refrigerators for years would also be one of the most amazing household cleaners? A box of baking soda has so many uses, you’ll be amazed at how many products you’ll be able to eliminate, simply by substituting a box of baking soda.

As a deodorizer, there’s just no beating a box of this old favorite. Whether it’s diaper pails or kitty litter boxes, sprinkling a layer of baking soda on the bottom will help to eliminate those nasty odors. To freshen carpets in a home with pets, sprinkle baking soda over the entire carpeted area. Allow to sit for thirty minutes or so (this won’t hurt kids or pets), then vacuum as usual. Using baking soda on your carpets will also help pet owners to vacuum up twice as much pet hair with each pass.

For laundry, you’d be amazed at the power of baking soda. Use a cup of baking soda in the wash in place of bleach. Baking soda whitens whites, deodorizes laundry, and helps to remove any stubborn stains. For a load that’s been left in the washer too long, rewash adding a half cup of baking soda to the water to remove any mildew and odor.

Baking soda can also be used as a household cleaner, replacing many of the abrasive cleaners we now use. Add enough water to a half cup of baking soda to create a paste, then apply with a damp sponge to tub, tile, and grout to whiten porcelain and remove stubborn stains. Allow baking soda to sit for thirty minutes, then rinse thoroughly with water.

Baking soda is also the all-original toothpaste. It contains no fluoride, so it’s perfectly safe for your little ones. Dip the bristles of a damp toothbrush into baking soda, and brush your teeth as usual. Okay, so it doesn’t taste all that great – but your teeth will feel like you just had a professional cleaning. You won’t need those professional whitening appointments anymore, either. Baking soda is great for removing coffee and nicotine stains from teeth, as well!

White Vinegar –

White vinegar has so many uses, it would be impossible to list them all here. Sort of a nature’s cure all, white vinegar can be used as everything from a household cleaning agent, to a dietary supplement for losing weight. Here we’re going to focus on the cleaning properties of this wonderful ingredient; but it is important to know that vinegar can be used for so many things, you can’t afford to be without it.

As a disinfectant, white vinegar can replace every cleaner in your bathroom and kitchen. Fill a spray bottle with a one-to-one solution of white vinegar and water, and spray onto bathroom fixtures and kitchen counters to kill any germs. Add one cup of vinegar to your toilet bowl and allow to sit for thirty minutes before brushing to deodorize and sanitize the toilet bowl, and leave it sparkling clean.

For windows and mirrors, white vinegar should replace all of your ammonia-based cleaning products. Simply add white vinegar (no water) to a spray bottle, and spray on windows and mirrors for a streak free shine. Also works great to deice car windshields. Use a sponge to rub straight vinegar onto the windshield at the end of the day, to prevent accumulation of ice overnight. Also safe for cleaning the inside of windshields, as it won’t streak or leave a film and make it difficult to see.

The laundry uses for white vinegar are endless. For bright colors that might fade, add one half cup white vinegar to the wash to prevent bleeding. To remove stubborn stains, soak area with white vinegar, and allow to sit for about ten minutes. Rub with an old toothbrush, and wash as usual.

White vinegar is also great for plumbing problems. For a clogged drain, pour two cups white vinegar down the drain and allow to sit for about forty-five minutes. Flush with hot water to remove clogs and lime scale buildup. For slow spraying showerheads, soak the head in white vinegar for thirty minutes, then rinse with hot water to remove lime and calcium buildup.

Not just for inside the home, white vinegar is also a great way to replace all those weed and grass killers for your lawn. To remove unwanted weeds and grass from driveways and sidewalks, spray straight vinegar into cracks and crevices. Great for cement, bricks, and flagstone walkways, as well.

Corn Starch –

Another great product, corn starch and all its uses amazes even the most seasoned homemaker. This fantastic substance has long been used as a thickener for gravies, sauces, and soups; but wait until you see what else you can do with corn starch…

For baby, corn starch can (and should) be used in place of talcum powder. Talc is an extremely unsafe substance to use in the presence of children, as it can cause extreme damage to babies lungs if inhaled. Using corn starch in lieu of talc is a much safer alternative. Simply sprinkle on baby’s bottom at each diaper change to prevent diaper rash. Another great reason to use corn starch in place of talcum powder, is that it takes so much less corn starch to accomplish the same result. Corn starch cakes fairly easily, so use sparingly.

Use corn starch to rid your home of cockroaches and mice. Simply mix equal amounts of corn starch and plaster of paris together. Sprinkle into cracks and around baseboards, and place in basement corners. Pests will eat the mixture and die. Roaches will carry the mixture back to their nests, effectively killing an entire colony, as well.

Want to give Fido a bath, but hate fighting to get him into the tub? Rub a liberal amount of corn starch into your four legged friend’s fur, allow to sit for about ten minutes, then brush out to leave their coat shiny and clean. This also works great to get that “wet dog” smell out once their fur has dried after being soaked. Phew!

To replace laundry starch for ironing, simply mix a couple of tablespoons of corn starch with two cups water in a spray bottle. Shake well in between uses to prevent settling. Spray onto fabric while ironing.

Lemon Juice –

To remove grease on any surface, mix equal amounts of lemon juice and water. Also great for doing the dishes, lemon juice cuts through grease in pans, and also helps to remove stuck on food, as well. Lemon juice also works great as a rinse agent in your dishwasher, too. Just add pulp free lemon juice in place of your normal rinse agent to remove water spots from glass ware.

To give your floors a sparkling shine, use lemon juice after mopping. Mop your floors with a solution of one and a half cups white vinegar to a gallon of water; then, using an old catsup squeeze bottle, squirt lemon juice onto floor surface. Mop again with a clean, damp sponge mop and allow to dry for a great shine!

To prevent those nasty odors from coming out of sink and tub drains, pour a quarter cup of lemon juice down the drains each night before bed. Running a half cup of lemon juice through your garbage disposal once or twice a week, also helps to break down waste and prevent backups.

Salt –

Last but not least, we have an ancient substance that was once worth its weight in gold. In ancient cultures, salt was used as a form of currency; and it is still today one of the most sought after ingredients for the modern kitchen.

As an organic pest repellant, there’s just no substitute for salt. A thin line of salt around floors, drawers, and cabinet bottoms will prevent all manner of pests from entering your home. Ant, beetles, and other little nasties won’t try to cross salt. Its also great for ridding your home of fleas. Simply sprinkle salt into all of your carpets. After a few hours, vacuum thoroughly to remove dead fleas and their eggs. Pour ordinary table salt around the perimeter of your home to prevent re-infestation. Dogs and cats can be washed with a mild saltwater to remove fleas, as well.

Your carpets will thank you, when you’re finally able to remove those stubborn wine, juice, and pet stains. Liberally spread salt over the affected area, and allow to sit until most of the liquid is absorbed. Vacuum salt up, and finish by cleaning area thoroughly with white vinegar (there’s that pesky vinegar, again!).

So there you have it. New uses for products that might otherwise have never left your kitchen. We should all do our part to help Mother Earth, and getting rid of all the chemical cleaners in our homes is a great place to start!

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