Just 4 Ingredients

by Barbara Sloan

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Homemade Cleaning Supplies

Make Your Own Cleaners!

Baking soda, salt, bleach and vinegar can save the day and your budget, too. It's easy and quick to make household cleaning supplies with them. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Mix vinegar with water at a ratio of about three parts water to one part vinegar. This will disinfect counters and sinks, as well as remove hard water deposits from faucets/showerheads, etc. It's cheap by the gallon and will last a long time. I put it in a spray bottle for convenience, clearly marked of course.

For those items that need whitening and more rigorous disinfection, you can do the same with bleach. Mix about two teaspoons bleach to a quart of water for most purposes. Follow directions on the bleach container. Be sure to keep this out of reach of children, just as you would undiluted bleach, as well as marking it clearly. A Sharpie or other permanent market works well for this.

Vinegar can also be used to clean your dishwasher each month. Just put a small dish of it on the bottom of your dishwasher, under the lower rack. You can add glassware to remove hard water spots on them at the same time. You can also fill the rinse dispenser with vinegar instead of an expensive commercial product.

I also save by using baking soda as a mild abrasive to remove stains from the refrigerator, microwave and even the countertops. It can also be combined with vinegar to clear clogged drains. In combination, it will fizz, so don't be alarmed. Just put in the baking soda first, then the vinegar. Use one-half cup of baking soda to about one-half cup of vinegar. Wait a bit after the fizzing before rinsing the sink.

Salt and vinegar also make a good cleaner for copper pots. Just dampen the pot with vinegar then sprinkle on a bit of salt and scrub. Your pots will look like new.

Vinegar also makes a good fabric softener in the washing machine. There is no odor when the clothes are dry. This is particularly good if you are bothered by the strong scents of dryer sheets or liquid softeners.

Baking soda and/or washing soda can boost the effectiveness of detergent, too. Follow directions on the box.

I also use baking soda to remove stubborn coffee and tea stains in my favorite mugs. I keep some in an old spice jar with a sprinkle lid for this and other quick cleaning purposes.

You can buy 12-pound bags of baking soda at the warehouse clubs very cheaply if you plan to use large amounts. Generic baking soda, bleach, salt and vinegar are just as good as name brands, since all must meet the same standards.

All of these are safer for our environment and cheaper than the commercial products. You will save time, money and space by using them.

For more ideas, look in books at the library or search the web. There are many sites on housecleaning that offer additional "recipes" for household cleaners.

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