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How Do I Use Natural Cleaning Products?

by Guest Post on Apr 10, 2010

One of the real beauties of natural cleaning products is that most of them can be used to clean more than one thing. No more cluttering up your cupboards with one product for the bath, another for the kitchen, another for this, another for that, etc., etc. ad nauseam. But if you’ve never cleaned your house using natural cleaners before, you might need to know what to use (and what not to use) with what.

Baking soda: Good for cleaning porcelain fixtures such as the bath and the sink. Also good for cleaning the top of stoves, the inside of ovens (microwave or conventional) and for cleaning the fridge. It cuts through grease and absorbs odors. Baking soda is not so good for glass, as it can leave a residue that takes a lot of rinsing off.

Vinegar: Vinegar is excellent for cleaning most surfaces, including glass. Mixed to a paste with salt, vinegar can also be used to clean metals. Vinegar is also a germ-killer (that’s why it’s been used to pickle and preserve food in the days prior to refrigeration and today) and can be used to wipe down lavatories. Vinegar also mixes well with essential oils, which you can do either to fragrance your home or to add the disinfectant power of plant essences to any home-made cleaners. Make sure that you use white vinegar as a cleaner – the other vinegars are delicious used in cooking and as salad dressing (and for a myriad of other health purposes) but are either too expensive or too dark to use as a cleaner, or both. Never use vinegar to clean pearls or marble.

Soap: Soap, obviously, is used to wash hands and bodies. It can also be used to clean hard floors, cars and fabric. With the help of a scrubbing brush, you can also use it to spot-clean small bits of carpets. The best way to use soap as a cleaner is to melt it into a gel before use by pouring boiling water over whatever scraps, slips or chunks of soap you fancy using (in a container, of course).

Essential oil can also be added to this soap gel. Soap gel is not so good for cleaning glass, as it leaves a residue on these, especially in hard water. Soap works best when it lathers, which it will do most readily in warm to hot water.

Hot water: Boiling water kills germs and is ideal for sterilizing food surfaces and chopping boards. It can also hurt you, so be careful. Hot water also combines well with soap for cleaning floors and clothes. If you’re handwashing clothes, use water that you can bear touching. Hot water should never be used for removing protein stains – it will set the stain instead of removing it.

Steam: Steam is great for loosening grime inside ovens (both sorts) prior to a good scrub out with baking soda. Cooler steam (water vapor for those more technically minded) is also ideal for cleaning pimple-prone faces. Specialized steam-cleaning machines are also ideal for cleaning carpets and for cleaning car engines, though these aren’t usually within the reach of the average DIY cleaner.

Essential oils: These aren’t so much cleaners as disinfectants and air fresheners. They are best mixed with other natural cleaning products. Lavender, pine, tea tree, eucalyptus and lemon are some of the most readily available and popular disinfectant essential oils (they also have the effect of calming (lavender) and promoting alertness (lemon), which can be a bonus). However, eucalyptus can also be used as a stain remover and can be added to soap gel for this.

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