When you visit your local big box store, grocery store, or even dollar store in search of cleaning products, you are bombarded with enough options to make your head spin. There are products for cleaning wood floors, tile floors, carpets, windows, stovetops, counters, and more. It seems like there is a separate product that’s specially formulated for cleaning every single surface and item in your home.
What’s worse is that almost all of these products are packed with unpronounceable ingredients that most of us are not the least bit familiar with. Sure, some of those scary-sounding chemicals are totally harmless, but, without a background in chemistry, how do you know what’s what? You want to keep your home clean, but you need to do it in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your family’s health or safety. What’s a homeowner to do?
Embracing natural cleaning products is a great way to avoid the cleaning chemical confusion. There are lots of all-natural cleaning agents that are perfectly safe to use around even the tiniest members of your family. And, guess what? They actually work! Here are a few all-natural cleaning agents that no home should be without.
Distilled White Vinegar
You’ve probably heard that plain distilled white vinegar is a powerful, all-natural cleaning product. You may have wondered, though, whether it’s really all it’s cracked up to be. Spoiler alert: It totally is! Vinegar is highly acidic, which makes it perfect for cleaning. It cuts through grease, grime, and sticky messes just as well as store-bought cleaning products, but it is completely non-toxic. It’s also incredibly versatile and can be used to clean floors, counters, stovetops, ovens, sinks, windows, mirrors, and more.
When combined with other natural ingredients—such as water, lemon juice, or baking soda—it becomes an all-natural cleaning powerhouse that no home should be without. White vinegar also works well for eliminating stubborn cat or dog urine odors from carpet and other fabrics. It can prevent them from returning and re-soiling the spot, too.
When combined with vinegar, baking soda creates a fizzing reaction that blasts away tough grime and can even clear clogged drains without the use of potentially harmful chemicals. Even when used on its own, though, this baking mainstay can make your household chores much easier. In fact, humans have been using it as a cleaning agent since the time of Ancient Egyptians!
One of the great things about baking soda is that it absorbs odors. While air fresheners merely cover them up, baking soda actually gets rid of it. That’s why lots of people keep a box of it in the fridge. It does a great job of deodorizing carpet and furniture, too. Sprinkle a generous amount on your fabric sofa, recliner, carpet, or rug, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Vacuum thoroughly to lift away the baking soda and all the odors it has absorbed. If you have cats, you can even use baking soda to freshen up the litter box.
Like vinegar, lemon juice is acidic and cuts through grease and grime with ease. Lemons also have natural antibacterial and antiseptic powers, so they are perfect for keeping your home a bit more sanitary without always relying on harsher cleaning products. Plus, they smell amazing! There are several ways to use lemon juice when cleaning your home. Combine with water and white vinegar to create a glass cleaner that is free of dangerous chemicals and leaves a streak-free shine.
If you have stubborn stains on your countertop, pour a bit of lemon juice on them and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub with baking soda, and watch the mess disappear. This method also works well for removing grease from stovetops. If you have plain white t-shirts with armpit stains or a discolored white rug, lemon juice can save the day. It acts as a natural bleaching agent and can eliminate all sorts of stains. Apply a liberal amount of lemon juice to the stain and let the item dry in the sun. The stain will likely vanish.
Castile soap is all-natural and environmentally friendly. It’s also incredibly versatile and can be used to clean just about everything from floor to ceiling, and it is gentle on the skin. It can be combined with disinfecting essential oils—such as tea tree oil—to form a powerful bathroom cleaner that works great for tubs, tiles, toilets, and more. It is great for cleaning up in the kitchen, too!
If your carpets are looking a bit dingy, use a small amount of castile soap in a carpet cleaning machine. After cleaning, rinse your carpet with water followed by a 10-25% vinegar solution. This helps disinfect while breaking down all remaining traces of soap. As long as you don’t have waxed wood floors, you can also use castile soap to make your bare floors sparkle.
Using All-Natural Cleaning Agents in Your Home
Switching to all-natural cleaning agents is a great way to keep your home looking—and smelling!—great without having to rely on potentially dangerous cleaning products. Doing so can also save you a lot of money and help you do your part to reduce your environmental footprint.
Keep in mind, though, that not all agents are appropriate for all surfaces. Baking soda, for example, is abrasive and could scratch wood or leather. Since lemon juice can act as a natural bleaching agent, it can cause discoloration on certain fabrics. When cleaning high-end furniture, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid damage. It is also smart to perform spot tests in inconspicuous areas prior to cleaning large areas using any new products. A bit of patience could prevent you from causing costly damage.