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Natural Cleaning Products

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Making the change back to simple, time-tested cleaning solutions

As consumers learn more about the unknown toxins that may be lurking in their cleaning products, more families are making their own natural cleaning products. The ingredients are simple, safe and well-tested. As a bonus, natural cleaning products are also significantly less expensive than their commercial counterparts.

When it comes to natural products, five items that you probably already have on hand stand out for their cleaning properties.

Baking soda

This nontoxic, versatile and inexpensive cleaner has been around for decades and was a staple in your grandma's cleaning closet. Sprinkle baking soda on your carpets to remove odors, and place an extra box in the fridge or freezer to keep your appliances smelling fresh. Pretreat laundry spots with a baking soda paste, or sprinkle some in your washer to make the whole load smell cleaner. Deodorize the dishwasher by sprinkling baking soda on the bottom before your next load of dishes.

Vinegar

Vinegar is also non-toxic and safe for children and pets. Combine one part vinegar with one part water and use as a window or toilet cleaner. Add one cup of vinegar to your mop water to keep floors clean. To clean your washer of unwanted smells, place a cup of vinegar in the washing machine and run empty. Have something that needs cleaned? Chances are, vinegar will get the job done. And don't worry about that vinegar smell — it evaporates within a few minutes.

Lemon

Lemon has natural cleaning and disinfecting qualities. After cutting and juicing a lemon, use the cut ends to scrub your cutting boards to keep them free of bacteria. Add salt to cut lemons and scrub down your grill grates for a cleaner surface. Place leftover lemon rinds in the microwave for two minutes. Let sit for five minutes, and then scrub the walls of your microwave for an easier-to-scrub surface. Squeeze a little lemon in your dishwater to help degrease hard-to-remove foods.

Cornstarch

While not as widely-known for cleaning as baking soda, corn starch has many of the same properties and can be used for a variety of household cleaning jobs. Sprinkle on oil stains in the garage or driveway to help soak up slick surfaces. Use as a laundry starch by mixing with water in a spray bottle, or mix with baking soda and sprinkle on carpets to freshen and deodorize.

Borax

Borax has been around for ages and was one of the first natural cleaners used in households. Mix two tablespoons to each cup of water for a general cleaning spray. Add a half cup to each load of laundry for cleaner clothes. Sprinkle Borax in your garbage disposal and let sit for 30 minutes to spruce up bad smells. (While not harmful in small or diluted amounts, Borax — sodium borate — can be harmful to children and pets if ingested, so keep out of reach of little hands and paws, and away from food.)

To make the change to natural cleaning products in your home, switch just one of your cleaners and then gradually add more. Transitioning to more natural cleaning products is not only less expensive, but results in less waste and a more healthy home environment.

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