I'm awed by baking soda.
It can be the chief ingredient in cleaning your toilet, or it can be one of only a handful of ingredients that come together to make a easy, delicious bread. You can use it to clean your teeth, or soak in a bath of it to relieve an itchy case of Poison Oak. It can deodorize your refrigerator, or extinguish a small fire.
It is a sort of super hero around the house.
These days, I'm mostly cleaning with it.
I find the weekend to be the only time I can really get any house-cleaning done, and even then, it isn't something I want to spend the whole day doing. Fortunately I often have a small helper going bathroom to bathroom with me, or wrangling the long vacuum hose in order to clean the rugs herself.
I'm happy to include her as much as possible -- company makes these mundane tasks so much better! -- but I don't want her handling toxic cleaning chemicals.
Thus, she was the inspiration for looking into people-friendly cleaning supplies that actually work (I don't want the toilet to merely look clean!). She was the inspiration, but my own quest for a healthy, anti-cancer life was the real clincher: How can I be healthy in an unhealthy (chemical-filled) environment?
So I was delighted to find two resources that were chock full of recipes for cleaning products that:
- are fun to mix up, especially with a kid helper (science experiments!)
- work really, really well
- smell great to boot!
The first is a lovely little book called Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs (awesome title that kind of says it all, right?).
The second resource I turn to frequently is a website: How to Clean Things. Their tagline is "Though we try to preach very little, we do believe that it's time to take housekeeping out of the 50s and into the 21st Century" -- via baking soda, lemon juice, citric acid & vinegar.
Here are a couple of recipes to get you started cleaning naturally this weekend, too.
1 c. baking soda
1/4 c. liquid castile soap (I love Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Scented)
3-5 drops tea tree oil
2 aspirins, powdered
Directions: Mix all the ingredients together and add enough water to make a paste. Keep in a jar or old shampoo bottle. To use, apply with a sponge, scrub & rinse thoroughly. (Works especially well on chrome & stainless steel, but also great for tubs & sinks. My sister-in-law used it to clean some pesky mold from wood, too.)
Almost All-Purpose Spray Cleaner
1 tsp liquid castile soup
2 TBSP white vinegar
1 tsp borax
1/4 tsp each: eucalyptus and lavender oil
3 drops tea tree oil
2 c. hot water
Directions: Mix all the ingredients together in a spray bottle. You can use this on anything besides glass. Spray it on, scrub and rinse off with a clean, damp cloth.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1/2 c. baking soda
1/4 c. vinegar
10 drops of tea tree oil
Pour each ingredient straight into the toilet. Each recipe equals 1 cleaning. I like to pour it all into the toilet (getting it up on the sides) and then let it sit there for a few minutes while I clean the rest of the bathroom.
Bath & Shower Cleaner
This recipe & method works great!
Note: I buy essential oils at Staff of Life, Whole Foods, or New Leaf. I buy castile soup in a large bottle at Trader Joe's, and I found Borax at Safeway.
Photo credit: I thought about dumping some baking soda in a pretty bowl and taking a picture, but then I found that someone had already done that. Original source.