Circumvent the armada of commercial cleaners by keeping an ample supply of these eight items, which make up the basic ingredients for nearly every do-it-yourself cleaning recipe.
Distilled white vinegar: disinfects and breaks up dirt; choose white vinegar over apple cider or red vinegars, as these might stain surfaces
Baking soda: provides grit for scrubbing and reacts with water, vinegar or lemon by fizzing, which speeds up cleaning times
Borax: disinfects, bleaches and deodorizes; very handy in laundry mixes
Hydrogen Peroxide: disinfects and bleaches
Lemons: cut grease; bottled lemon juice also works well, although you might need to use bit more to get the same results
Olive oil: picks up dirt and polishes wood; cheaper grades work well
Vegetable based (liquid castile) soap: non-petroleum all-purpose cleaners
Washing soda: stain remover, general cleaner, helps unblock pipes; should be handled with gloves due to its caustic nature. Washing soda is usually found in the laundry aisle of grocery and drug stores.
Vinegar, baking soda, and lemons all have natural cleaning powers that rival manufactured cleaning solutions. They are easy and safe to use, and can often clean for much less money than other cleaning products on the market.
How to clean your house without hurting the planet
Vinegar, from the French translation meaning "sour wine," can be produced from all kinds of fruits, berries, melons, coconut, honey, beer, maple syrup, potatoes, beets, malt, grains and whey. But the fundamental process remains unchanged no matter what the initial ingredients may be: first a fermentation of sugar to alcohol, and then a second go-round to vinegar.
The ancients stumbled upon the versatility of vinegar probably 10,000 years ago. The Babylonians used it as medicine, and also mixed it with herbs to flavor their meals. The Romans drank it as a beverage. Biblical references show how it was used for its soothing and healing properties, and as recent as World War I vinegar was still being used to treat wounds.
Vinegar is a highly affordable and super-safe eco-cleaning staple we should all get familiar with. Distilled white vinegar easily neutralizes alkaline soaps, effortlessly breaks down stubborn urine odors, quickly polishes patent leather, instantly removes static cling from clothing, flawlessly cleans mirrors and glass, simply deodorizes the air, effortlessly polishes chrome, carefully removes soap scum and hard water spots, dependably cleans your automatic drip coffee maker and, in a pinch, even lifts accidentally spilled white glue. This 10,000 year-old elixir is a modern-day cleaning miracle!