Cleaners Your Kids Can Lick

Some common cooking ingredients can clean your house

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Cleaning products that you use every day could be harmful to your family and home — and cost a bundle.

Exploring types of natural, affordable and safe products can help you make your house spotless without worrying about your wallet or the environment.

“We like handy at-home items and recipes with natural products to keep your house and family safe,” said Marcia Elizabeth Weaver, a home economist.

Women want products that are cost-effective, easy to use, great for scrubbing and keep your family and environment safe.

“It's much more cost-effective to use natural products you can buy in any grocery store,” said Chris Clarke, owner of the Sunrise Soap Co. in York.

Rather than spending more than you need to on ready-made cleaning solutions, you can spend pennies on things such as vinegar and baking soda.

The natural products are easy to use and work just as well as anything else you can buy.

“White vinegar cuts soap scum, grease, odors, mildew, wax buildup and dirt on floors,” said Pamela Keller, of Healthy Home Concepts in Lancaster.

Natural products can also disinfect and get stains out.

Photo credit Jason Plotkin

“On really tough stuff I will put on a baking soda paste and scrub, and it comes right out,” said Tabitha Myers, a member of Women's Voices for the Earth in Cochranton.

Keller also uses hydrogen peroxide for bathroom mold, leaving it for one hour to disinfect and eat away at the mold, and then wiping clean.

The biggest reason many choose to use natural, easy-to-find cleaning products are that they keep your family and environment safe.

“Our skin is our biggest organ, and if we use all these chemicals it is just getting absorbed into the air and our skin,” Myers said.

Vinegar, even with the strong scent, can clean almost anything.

“I stick with vinegar. It cleans just about every type of surface,” Myers said. It can even clean surfaces like stainless steel if it's undiluted, Keller noted. Clarke likes vinegar for its glass-cleaning ability.

Baking soda, often cited for its deodorizing power, can also clean surfaces.

“I love it for electric ovens. It leaves a natural shine on that flat surface,” Keller said.

Beth Thomason, owner of Old Thyme Herb Farm in East Berlin, uses baking soda for tubs and sinks. You can mix either vinegar or baking soda with natural oils like lavender or lemon to add a pleasant scent to your cleaning solution.

The third most-used natural product is borax, a substitute for bleach used for laundry, but that can also clean almost anything else.

“It’s a natural mineral that can disinfect anything,” Keller said. Thomason uses borax to clean walls and floors and any other general purpose.

Consider making the choice to keep your home healthy and green, and save some pennies while you do!

Natural products to clean your home:

* Vinegar: cuts grease, deodorizes, and cleans any surface

* Baking soda: deodorizes, cleans surfaces to leave shining, used for scouring

* Borax: laundry, water softener, alternative to bleach, disinfects

* Lemon oil: removes stains, deodorizes, shines

* Alcohol: disinfectant, glass cleaner, granite surface cleaner

* Hydrogen peroxide: cuts mold, bleaches

* Tea: cleans hardwood floors and woodwork


* General purpose: Mix 1 teaspoon borax with 1 quart of warm water; add lemon juice or vinegar to cut grease

* Carpet freshener: Sprinkle carpet with baking soda, let sit 15 minutes, vacuum

* Wood floor cleaner: place two tea bags in a bucket with boiling water

* Grubby corners: mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda, let sit for 1 hour, spray out

* Stainless steel: undiluted vinegar or lemon oil

* Glass: mix vinegar with water, or mix alcohol with water, spray on and wipe off

Sources: Pamela Keller, Healthy Home Concepts, Lancaster; Chris Clarke, Sunrise Soap Co., York; Penn State College of Agriculture; Alternative Cleaning Solutions


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