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All-Natural Cleaning Solutions
The acid in lemon juice removes dirt and rust stains. It's especially effective when mixed with salt, which
makes "an excellent scouring paste," says Karyn Siegel-Maier, author of The Naturally Clean Home
Use Them to Clean Your…
Countertops: Dip the cut side of a lemon half in baking soda to tackle countertops; wipe with a wet
sponge and dry. Don't use on delicate stone, like marble, or stainless steel (it may discolor).
Cutting boards: To remove tough food stains from light wood and plastic cutting boards, slice a lemon
in half, squeeze onto the soiled surface, rub, and let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing.
Dishes: To increase the grease-cutting power of your dishwashing detergent, add a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Faucets: Combat lime scale by rubbing lemon juice onto the taps and letting it sit overnight. Wipe with a damp cloth.
Garbage disposal: Cut a lemon in half, then run both pieces through the disposal. "The lemon cleans it and makes it smell great," says Linda
Mason Hunter, a coauthor of Green Clean (Melcher Media, $17, amazon.com).
Hands: When you touch raw fish, the smell can linger on your fingers. Rub your hands with lemon juice, which will neutralize the odor.
Laundry: To brighten whites, add 1/2 cup lemon juice to the rinse cycle for a normal-size load.
Plastic food-storage containers: To bleach stains from tomato soup and other acidic foods on dishwasher-safe items, rub lemon juice on
the spots, let dry in a sunny place, then wash as usual.
This acidic wonder can wipe out tarnish, soap scum, mineral deposits, and more. Among natural cleaners, it's
the clear champ. Distilled white vinegar creates an environment that inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, and
some bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, says Jeffrey Hollender, author of Naturally Clean (New Society
Publishers, $18, amazon.com).
Price: About $1.80 for a quart at supermarkets.
Use It to Clean Your…
Coffeemaker: Pour equal parts vinegar and water into the machine's water chamber, then switch on the
brew cycle. Halfway through, turn off the coffeemaker and let the solution sit for about an hour. Turn it on
again to complete the cycle, then run several cycles with clean water.
Dishwasher: To disinfect the interior of the machine, pour 1/2 cup vinegar into the reservoir and run an
empty cycle, says Hunter. Or place a small bowl filled with vinegar on the bottom rack and run an empty cycle.
Drains: Clean drains―and the pipes they're attached to―by pouring vinegar down them. After 30 minutes,
flush with cold water.
Floors: Add 1/4 cup vinegar to a bucket of warm water to clean almost any type of floor except marble
(vinegar can scratch it) or wood (vinegar can strip it).
Glassware: For spotless hand-washed glasses, add 1 cup vinegar to the rinse water.
Moldy walls: Spray vinegar on the affected areas. After about 15 minutes, rinse and let dry thoroughly.
Showerheads: To combat mineral deposits, pour vinegar into a plastic grocery bag and knot the handles
over the neck of the showerhead, securing with rubber bands. Let soak overnight. Rinse with water in
Steam iron: To get rid of mineral deposits, fill the iron with equal parts vinegar and water; press the steam button. Turn off, let cool, empty,
Windows: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 cups water, and a squirt of liquid Castile soap in a spray bottle. Spritz windows and wipe with a sheet of
The combination of a mild abrasive, a surfactant (detergent), and an antibacterial agent makes toothpaste a potent stain-fighter. "Stick with
standard paste, not gel, and steer clear of formulas designed for tartar control and whitening," says Siegel-Maier. "These often contain
chemicals and additional abrasives that can damage items such as fine silver."
Price: About $3.65 for a tube.
Use It to Clean Your…
Acrylic accessories (such as desktop organizers): Squeeze toothpaste onto a toothbrush and work it into scratches until
they diminish. Wipe residue off with a cloth.
Chrome fixtures: To polish faucets and taps in the kitchen or bathroom, smear a dime-size amount of toothpaste onto them, then buff with a
soft cloth until they shine.
Scuffed linoleum: Reduce marks by scrubbing them with toothpaste and a dry cloth until no toothpaste residue remains.
Tarnished silverware: Put a dab of toothpaste on a soft cloth, rub it onto the tarnish, then rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth.
Steam iron: Mineral deposits can stain an iron's soleplate. Apply a dab of toothpaste and work it into the plate. Use a clean cloth to remove
Salt's granular texture makes it perfectly suited for scouring. Table salt, sea salt, and kosher salt can all be
used, but table salt is the cheapest choice.
Price: About 69 cents a pound.
Use It to Clean Your…
Artificial flowers: Place the fake blooms inside a paper bag and pour in salt. Close the bag and shake vigorously.
The salt will dislodge accumulated dust and dirt.
Glassware: Salt won't scratch the way a scouring pad can. To get out stubborn stains, add some salt for extra
abrasion and scrub.
Greasy pots and pans: Sprinkle salt on cookware to absorb excess grease. Dump out the salt before washing as
usual. (Not recommended for nonstick cookware.)
Spills in the oven: If that casserole bubbles over as you take it out of the oven, pour salt on the spill to soak it up.
When the oven is cool, wipe with a damp sponge.
Stained teacups and coffee mugs: Sprinkle salt on the outside of a lemon peel; rub the affected area till clean.
Wooden counters and tables: Cover grease splatters with salt to absorb as much as possible. Wait an hour, then brush away the salt.
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