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Are your cabinets crowded with a menagerie of cleaning products, each making big promises to change your life? And do you keep buying more of them because those promises are so… well, promising? I know I do.
But no more.
I’m on a quest to simplify my life by being more conscious of my time, my money, and my health.
These simple DIY cleaning products and ideas will save you money, save you time, save you cabinet space, and help you be healthier and greener. What’s not to love? Um, nothing.
All you need is distilled white vinegar, baking soda, Dawn dish detergent, hot water, and IF you want, essential oils (totally optional).
Let’s jump right in:
1. Clean mirrors or windows:
Create a 1:1 white vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle, spray, and wipe with newspaper or a wet squeegee for streak-free shine!
2. Get the gunk off your showerhead:
Submerge your showerhead in a container filled with white vinegar for a few hours, or overnight. Wipe clean and rinse. Good as new!
3. Help to eliminate odors:
A small bowl or reed diffuser filled with white vinegar will help to get rid of the funk. (No, the vinegar itself does not smell good- I wouldn’t suggest using this as an air freshener, just an odor eliminator. Then you can come back in with something else non-toxic that smells nice like essential oils.)
4. Unclog a drain:
Dump ½ cup baking soda followed by ½ cup white vinegar down your drain. Cover and let soak. Follow up with boiling water. Get more details here.
5. Cut through soap scum and ring-around-the-tub:
In a large spray bottle, combine equal parts Dawn dishwashing liquid and white vinegar. Add a few tablespoons of hot water and shake well. (To further save money, I suggest using more water if you’re using ultra-concentrated Dawn. Conversely, for a really strong cleaner, some people skip the water all together and just heat up the vinegar before mixing with the Dawn.) Generously spray all surfaces of your shower and tub. Let sit for about half an hour. Wipe off and invite your friends over to marvel at the shine.
For a really dirty shower, or to further avoid having to invest any elbow grease, turn your shower on full blast, as hot as it will possibly go, close the shower curtain and bathroom door, and let run for about 5 minutes. The steam will loosen the grime, making whatever cleaner you use even more effective.
6. No-rinse mopping:
Add 1 cup of white vinegar per gallon of warm water in your mop bucket. If you don’t like the smell, add some pine and/ or lemon. (Do NOT use this method on waxed floors, hardwood floors, or natural stone. More about that here.)
7. Eliminate drain odors:
Once a week, simply pour a cup of white vinegar down your kitchen drain, let sit for 30 min. or so, and flush with cold water.
8. (Almost) All-surface spray:
That window cleaner you made? Ya, you can clean your counters and sinks with it, too. Most recipes call for adding a decent amount of essential oil to the mix to help with the smell (and the cleaning/ disinfectant power, depending on which oils you choose). Don’t literally use it anywhere though- if your countertops are granite or marble, vinegar will harm them.
9. Safely clean granite or marble:
While vinegar, ammonia, lemon, and other highly acidic cleaners can damage your natural stone surfaces, that doesn’t mean you need to buy a special cleaner. You can safely, cheaply, and effectively clean these surfaces with a gentle mixture of dish soap and warm water. For stubborn stains, rub with baking soda. Finish by wiping with a clean, damp cloth and buffing dry.
10. Clean your appliances:
Dump 1 cup of white vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher, and run a short, normal cycle (no soap).
Add ½ cup of white vinegar to your water reservoir, fill the rest with cold water. Run your coffee maker. Run one more cycle with just water to rinse (or don’t, if you prefer a hint of vinegar in the morning).
Fill your blender with ½ cup of vinegar and 1 cup of hot water. Blend for thirty seconds or so. Wipe clean and rinse.
Microwave a cup of vinegar for 2 minutes. Remove cup and use damp cloth to wipe clean.
But what about the germs?
The good news: The David Suzuki Foundation explains: “You can tackle salmonella, E. coli and other ‘gram-negative’ bacteria with vinegar. Gram-negative bacteria can cause pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream, wound or surgical site infections.”
The bad news: according to the Mother Nature Network: “Vinegar can be used as a safer bleach alternative for some applications, like cleaning. However, vinegar is not a registered disinfectant and does not kill dangerous bacteria like staphylococcus.”
So if the serious stuff like staph and MRSA is a concern for the area you are cleaning, check out this helpful article for some facts and tips about healthy disinfecting. For general household bacteria, you’re good to go!
Grab your supplies and let’s get cleaning!
What are your go-to cleaning tips for using simple ingredients? Share in the comments below!