Natural Cleaning Products

Next time there’s a stain to remove, don’t reach for the soap—try your fridge first. Natural cleaning products are a great alternative to chemical detergents. They’re cheaper, more accessible, and safer for both you and the environment. Here are five products you can try.
Natural Cleaning Products

Just how clean do you get when you clean your house? You probably have no idea. According to studies, the average American household uses 40 lbs of chemical cleaning products a year, most of it containing toxic chemicals that harm not only the environment, but also the health of everyone in the house. These chemicals are flushed down toilets, thrown into the soil, or released into the air, causing a chain of long-term health effects. In fact, even your laundry soap can contain a few carcinogens.

So how do you stay clean and safe at the same time? Try going natural. Natural cleaning products can be found in almost any kitchen and work just as well as, or even better than, their synthetic counterparts. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they cost next to nothing as well. Here are some effective natural cleaning products you can find in your home.

Lemon

The acids in lemon juice help dissolve dirt and water deposits that tend to harden on moist surfaces. Rub some lemon juice on a stained surface to loosen the stain, and then simply rinse with water. This also works on dusty glass and transparent surfaces. Use it with baking soda to polish silver and brass, or mix half a cup with a cup of olive oil for a natural furniture polish. For an all-purpose cleaning paste, mix some lemon juice with baking soda or vinegar.

Lemon peels can also be used to freshen up dank areas such as garbage bins, dishwashers, sinks, and toilets. If it’s a small space (like a sink drain), it’s best to throw in the entire peel in so you can easily pull it out.

Baking soda

This is probably one of the most versatile cleaning products. Baking soda can be used as a deodorizer, fabric softener, metal and plastic polisher, and stain remover. It’s excellent for scrubbing smooth surfaces—it works as well as most commercial cleaners, but it doesn’t scratch the surface as most abrasive soaps do. It also absorbs bad odors; try placing some inside your freezer or fridge to keep food smells from mixing.

You can also use baking soda as a natural bleaching agent. Soak dirty whites in a baking soda solution before washing—this will remove the sweat stains that often appear on the seams. Be sure to rinse well, though, as the solution can stiffen some fabrics.

Vinegar

Vinegar works on almost any surface, doesn’t scratch or stain, and doubles as a deodorizer and disinfectant. A solution of equal parts water and vinegar makes an all-purpose cleaner for practically every room in your home. One important exception is tiled surfaces—a strong vinegar solution will eat away at the grout. If you have to, try diluting with more water to weaken the acids. You can also use it to clean bathtubs, mirrors, windows, and countertops. Some low-quality surfaces don’t react well to vinegar, so be sure to test it before applying. The smell disappears when the vinegar dries, so don’t worry about your home smelling sour.

Borax

Borax is a white powdery mineral used in many detergents and cosmetics. It works mostly as a disinfectant, but it can also prevent mold and mildew, remove stains, and remove bad odors. Its chemical makeup is toxic to most microorganisms, which makes it an effective disinfectant and deodorizer. Its higher pH boosts the cleaning effect of bleaches and fabric softeners and acts as a buffer to regulate the acidity in strong cleaning solutions.

There are a few risks associated with borax, although none are a cause for concern. Avoid direct contact with borax for more than a few minutes, as this can irritate your skin and eyes. It’s toxic if ingested, so take extra care when using it, and don’t leave it lying around if you have kids in the house.

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a clear, light liquid produced when petroleum is distilled into gasoline. It is mainly used as a lubricant, but it also has excellent cleaning and polishing properties. It works particularly well against grease and oil stains, as it dissolves hardened oils and makes them easier to wash out. Some henna stains can also be loosened with mineral oil. It is also the only product approved for polishing soapstone and other delicate stones.