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Clean Your Whole House With Vinegar, Baking Soda, and Lemon

One way to reduce the number of cleaning products you bring into your home is to clean with products you already have. People have been cleaning with household staples like vinegar, baking soda, and lemons (or lemon juice) for a long time. These items are safe and effective, allowing you to clean without worries about harsh chemicals.

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Cleaning With Vinegar

Although vinegar is not registered as a disinfectant with the EPA, it will kill both salmonella and E.coli, two bacteria you’ll want to avoid. Consequently, white vinegar can be used to clean loads of things around your home. Here are just a few suggestions for what you can clean with vinegar.

In the kitchen

  • Clean your coffeemaker: Run the machine with equal parts water and vinegar. Halfway through the cycle, turn it off and let it sit for 1 hour. Then complete the cycle.
  • Clean your microwave: Put 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for about 10 minutes. Afterward, stains and dried food should be easy to wipe away. (Note: To make sure the liquid doesn’t overheat, place a wooden spoon in the vinegar/water mixture before you microwave it.)
  • Make glasses sparkle: Soak cloudy glassware in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. After 30 minutes, rinse one glass with water. If it’s still cloudy, continue soaking for another 30 minutes. Rinse glasses with warm water and scrub dry with a clean cloth.

In the bathroom

  • Remove mineral deposits from a showerhead: Disconnect the showerhead. Using an old toothbrush, scrub it with vinegar to loosen debris. Use a toothpick to poke out stubborn deposits. Then soak the showerhead in a bowl of white vinegar overnight. In the morning, rinse the showerhead and reconnect it.
  • Prevent mold in the shower: Spray vinegar on shower walls and curtains whenever they get wet.

Throughout the home

  • Clean windows: Mix 1 cup vinegar with 1 cup water. Spray solution on windows and wipe dry. If windows are very grimy, use full-strength, warm white vinegar. Spray it on windows and let it soak for a couple of minutes before rinsing and drying.
  • Remove mold from walls: Spray vinegar on walls, let sit for 15 minutes, rinse and let dry.
  • Clean carpet spills: After blotting up as much liquid as you can, spray the stain with a solution of half vinegar and half water and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Blot with a clean towel.

Miscellaneous

  • Remove sticker residue: Soak a rag in vinegar and lay it across the sticky area. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe off the loosened residue.
  • Remove skunk odor from a dog: If your dog has a run-in with a skunk, mix 2 parts water with 1 part apple cider vinegar. Wet your dog’s fur and wash one section at a time with the solution. Let the solution sit for at least 5 minutes, then rinse with water. You may need to repeat this process.

Cleaning With Baking Soda

baking soda
Image courtesy of NatureFriend

Baking soda can do more than keep your fridge smelling fresh and aid with baking. Its odor absorbing properties are useful throughout the home. It is a mild abrasive that can remove stains without scratching. Additionally, baking soda is completely nontoxic. And unlike vinegar, it doesn’t have a strong smell. Try baking soda for some of these household cleaning tasks.

In the kitchen

  • Remove stains from coffee and tea mugs: Mix baking soda with water to form a paste, then use it to scrub away the stains.
  • Remove odors from food containers: Rub a paste of baking soda and water over the inside of the container. Let it sit for a day or two and wash it off. Repeat, if necessary.
  • Polish flatware: Make a paste with three parts baking soda and one part water.  Rub onto the flatware with a clean cloth. Rinse with water and dry.
  • Clean oven spills: Make a paste of 1/2 cup baking soda and 3 tablespoons water. Smear the paste over the spills avoiding the heating elements. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes, or for bad spills, overnight. Wipe up paste and loosened spill with damp dish cloth. Wipe oven interior with water or a 3:1 mixture of water and distilled vinegar. (Note: If you have a self-cleaning oven, don’t use this method.)

In the bathroom

  • Clean hairbrushes and combs: Remove any hair from the bristles, then immerse brushes and combs in a baking soda/water solution. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes, then rinse well in hot water.

Throughout the home

  • Remove odors from upholstered furniture: Simply sprinkle the fabric with baking soda and then vacuum.
  • Erase crayon marks from walls: Make a paste of baking soda and water. Dip a toothbrush in the mixture and scrub in gentle circular motions and then wipe away.
  • Clean no-wax and tile floors: To clean floors without scratching them, mix 1/2 cup baking soda in a bucket of warm water. Mop the floor and rinse. If you have scuff marks, just add baking soda to a damp sponge and gently buff them out.
  • Freshen carpets and rugs: Sprinkle the carpet or rug with baking soda, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then vacuum.

Miscellaneous

  • Remove burnt food from a grill grate: Sprinkle baking soda on the grill grate and scrub with a brush. Rinse and wipe clean.
  • Clean lawn furniture: Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 1 quart of warm water. Wipe down furniture and rinse.

Cleaning With Lemon

Bowl of lemons
Image courtesy of Susy Morris

Have extra lemons or a bottle of lemon juice that you rarely use? While not a disinfectant, lemon juice does have antibacterial properties — plus, it leaves behind a clean, refreshing scent. Here are some common tasks where lemons (or bottled lemon juice) can lend you a hand.

In the kitchen

  • Clean cutting boards: First, rinse any food residue from the cutting board. Then sprinkle course salt over the board’s surface and scour it with a lemon half, cut size down. Squeeze the lemon gently as you go to release the juice. Let it sit for 5 minutes, rinse thoroughly, and repeat on the other side.
  • Remove stains from food storage containers: Squeeze enough lemon juice into the containers to cover the bottom and swirl it around so it coats all sides. Place it outside for a day or two in sunny weather. Then wash with soap and warm water.
  • Clean your microwave: Combine a sliced lemon (or 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice) with at least 1 cup of water in a bowl, and microwave for 5 minutes. When it’s done, leave it in the microwave, power off, for another 15 minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe all surfaces.
  • Control odor in your fridge: Put a few slices of lemon into a bowl and store it in your fridge, uncovered, for several hours to help eliminate unpleasant spells. You can keep it there for up to a week before you switch it out.

In the bathroom

  • Remove lime scale from faucets: Push a halved lemon (it’s OK if you’ve already squeezed it for its juice) onto the end of the faucet. Wrap the lemon-covered faucet with a plastic bag and secure it to the faucet with a rubber band. Leave it overnight. In the morning, wipe the faucet.
  • Tackle grout stains: Make a thin paste from lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar and apply to the area with a small, stiff brush (a toothbrush will work in a pinch). Once the stain is gone, rinse with water.

Throughout the home

  • Clean glass: Mix 3 tablespoons of lemon juice with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake the mixture, spray it on the glass, and clean as usual. Use this mixture within the next week or so because lemon juice goes rancid after a couple of weeks.
  • Polish furniture: Mix 1 teaspoon of lemon juice with 1 pint of vegetable or mineral oil. Rub onto furniture. Use a clean cloth to remove any excess oil.

Miscellaneous

  • Remove rust stains from clothes: Sprinkle salt on the rust stain, pour lemon juice on the salt, then lay the garment flat to dry. Setting it in the sun can speed up the process. Repeat, if needed. Note: Dark fabrics may not be colorfast, so test the lemon juice first on an inconspicuous spot.
Natural Cleaning Ingredients
Image source: Fix.com Blog

Originally published on June 15, 2016, this article was updated in June 2023.
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