Choosing conscious cleaning solutions

Natural, Non-Hazardous Cleaning

by Dalit Holzman

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The big-brand household cleaning products are tough on both the wallet and the environment. Non-hazardous cleaning alternatives can be mixed up and stored in labeled reused containers (old hair-spray bottles or the like). What's more is that almost all the ingredients are commonly found around the house. And if not, they can be bought for next to nothing at a local dollar-store. Here are just a few suggestions of effective solutions.

All Purpose Cleaner

Mix one quart of hot water with 1/4 cup sudsy ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar and one tablespoon of baking soda

Brass and Copper Cleaner

Mix salt and either lemon juice or hot vinegar

Carpet Cleaner

Sprinkle cornstarch on dry carpet and vacuum after five minutes.

Carpet Shampoo

Mix 1/2 cup of pure liquid dishwashing soap and two cups of boiling water; let it cool and then whip to jelly. Rub carpet gently with mix and dampened sponge. Then rinse with cloth and one quart of water with one cup of white vinegar. Wipe carpet dry with a clean cloth.

Chrome Cleaner

Use hot water with either rubbing alcohol or ammonia.

Difficult Laundry Stains

Blood: Soak the item in cold water or hydrogen peroxide or apply a mixture of cornstarch and talcum powder or cornmeal and water; dry and brush away.

Chewing Gum: Rub with ice and flake off.

Coffee: Try egg yolk with warm water

Fruit and Wine: Immediately pour on salt or hot water and soak in milk.

Grease: Pour on boiling water and then follow by baking soda.

Heavy Soils: Rub with a solution made up of two tablespoons of washing soda and one cup of warm water.

Ink: Soak in milk or hydrogen peroxide.

Lipstick: Rub with cold cream or shortening and wash with washing soda.

Mildew: Rub strong soap and salt on spots; place in sunlight while keeping spots moist.

Rust: Soak with sour milk or lemon juice and rub with salt; dry in sun and wash.

Scorches: Boil the article in one cup of soap and two quarts of milk.

Dish Cleaner

Use soap flakes in hot water. Add vinegar for tough grease when necessary.

Dishwasher Detergent

Mix Borax and washing soda in a one-to-one ratio or Borax and baking soda in a two-to-one ratio.


Dissolve 1/8 cup of Borax in one quart of hot water.

Drain Cleaner

Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar into the drain. Cover the drain until fizzing stops and then flush with boiling water.

Furniture Polish

Use olive oil on unvarnished wood. On varnished wood, spray lightly with two tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of white vinegar and one quart of water and let it dry.

Glass Cleaner

Spray with a mixture of 1/8 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of ammonia and one quart of water. Then dry with crumpled newspaper.

Laundry Detergent

During water fill, add 1/3 cup of washing soda. Put in the clothes and then add one cup of pure soap. During the rinse cycle, add 1/4 cup of vinegar as softener.

Oven Cleaner

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a non-aluminum pan with 1/4 cup of ammonia and water in the oven, with door closed, overnight. Scrub clean with baking soda in the morning.

Pest Spray for Foliage

Garlic Water: Mix two tablespoons of garlic juice, one ounce of diatomaceous earth, one teaspoon of rubbing alcohol and four quarts of water. This can be frozen.

Pepper Water: Blend three very hot peppers, 1/2 onion and garlic clove in water. Boil the mixture, steep for two days, and strain. This is good for indoor plants too, and it can be frozen.

Soap: Use two tablespoons of pure liquid soap or 50 grams of pure dry soap per quart of water.

Tobacco Water: Let a large handful of tobacco stand in four quarts of warm water for 24 hours; dilute and spray (poisonous to humans).

Silver Cleaner

Immerse silver in a mixture of one quart of water, one tablespoon of salt, and one tablespoon of baking soda; bring to a boil. Remove, rinse and polish.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Apply a paste of lemon juice and Borax. Let this stand for two hours.

Tooth Cleaner Phosphate-Free

Use baking soda with lemon juice and mint extract.

Tub and Tile Cleaner

Scrub with baking soda, washing soda or Borax.

Upholstery Cleaner

Mix six tablespoons of soap flakes, two tablespoons of Borax and two cups of boiling water; cool and shake vigorously. On a small area, brush in only suds with soft circular motions and remove with a soft cloth.

Wood Floor Polish

Mix 1/8 cup of melted paraffin in one quart of mineral oil. Apply with a cloth. Then dry and polish your floor.

Dalit Holzman lives as frugally as possible with her husband and new baby daughter in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. She can be reached at

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