Putting Natural Products around the home, to the test – part 1

Save yourself money and the environment with these tips. πŸ™‚

For many years I have gone back and forth between trying natural products, and the old “stand-bys” like Comet, Pine Sol, Windex, etc… So, it keeps being brought to my attention about how harmful the chemicals are in the stronger products. I really am torn between both. I have to say, I love my old “stand-by” cleaners. They get the job done and fast! But I love the thought of sustaining our environment and keeping me and my family healthy as well, so I’m making it a point to try and use products which are natural and can still accomplish the tasks at hand. I know I could just go purchase ‘natural’ products off the shelf, but that can get a little pricey. Let’s just stick to finding something you already have in your cupboards.

Just a few natural possibilities for cleaning around the house - Vinegar, Baking Soda and Borax

Just a few natural possibilities for cleaning around the house – Vinegar, Baking Soda and Borax


I’ve spent a lot of time looking for tips on uses for products such as vinegar, baking soda, salt, etc. I’ve taken many of these tips and put them to the test in my own home, as well as using few ‘guinea pig’ volunteers as well, so you don’t have to ;). Some hints work quite well, and others just swirl around the internet like a never ending tornado. People tend to pass along “helpful hints” without even testing whether or not it works. I found myself lost in this tornado of tips. I had to test as many as possible so I could stop the swirling, and put them to rest. I found there are tooooo many tips for me to have tried all of them yet – This will be an ongoing mission, therefore I will report back to you in the future with more, more, more.

One tip I was really intrigued by recently, and you may even have seen it pass by your facebook page or other media, is the – put a vinegar/water mixture on your vehicle windshield or windows and you will keep frost from forming. This did NOT work!. I have been putting it to the test in every way possible over the past few weeks. I tried spraying on and leaving it; spraying on and wiping off; putting a stronger than 50/50(I used pure vinegar). Anyway, I’m done trying that one. Feel free to try it yourself, but I highly recommend you NOT waste your valuable time.

Here are a few I have been enjoying and will really make you a believer:
* Steam Clean your Microwave. Place a glass bowl with 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water into the microwave. Set on highest setting for 5 minutes. Let the bowl cool, then dip your cloth into the bowl and EASILY wipe off the inside of the microwave. This one works for stuck-on splatters, and baked on grease & buildup. It will look like you scrubbed and scrubbed. Niiiiiice πŸ™‚

* Make hard water stains & mineral deposits disappear!. I like to keep a spray bottle of full strength vinegar in a spray bottle under the kitchen sink. I use it for general anti-bacterial purposes on my cutting board and countertops(don’t use on granite or marble btw). But it is mainly for my glass kettle of boiling water. After a week or so it tends to get a little foggy, but just a spray of vinegar – a little swish, swish around and, tadaaa! – it’s sparkling like new again.

electric kettle - before cleaning with vinegar

electric kettle – before cleaning with vinegar

electric kettle after cleaning with vinegar

electric kettle after cleaning with vinegar

Below is the same thing, but with the addition of baking soda. If you forget to squeegee the glass in your shower stall, you will probably end up with the same hard-water stains or mineral deposits. IF it has only been a week or so, you can just spritz some of your full-strength white vinegar, leave it for a couple minutes, then wipe off to a sparkling clean. IF you have not cleaned it for a while, you will do the same, but add some baking soda to a wet cloth and wipe. Rinse off and dry. If it’s not all disappeared, just repeat the process(unless you have waited tooooo long. Unfortunately I have yet to find a product, natural or chemical, that will accomplish this task). The picture below shows a before and after of one I had to do twice. Looks great with very little effort.

View through glass inside of a shower BEFORE cleaning with vinegar and baking soda

View through glass inside of a shower BEFORE cleaning with vinegar and baking soda

View through glass, from inside a shower, AFTER cleaning with vinegar and baking soda

View through glass, from inside a shower, AFTER cleaning with vinegar and baking soda

This vinegar and baking soda mix is a great combination for several other items around the house – too many to list. I do NOT like scrubbing over and over again, so my mission is to find easy ideas for you and me. Here are a few things I got clean with very little effort:
Rust and baking stains on the bottom of the dutch oven Dutch oven with baking and rust stains

baking and rust stains vanish with the use of baking soda and a spritz of vinegar

baking and rust stains vanish with the use of baking soda and a spritz of vinegar

An acrylic bathtub with colorful scratch marks from toys, toys toys!

Many colorful scratches left by kid's toys in bathtub - BEFORE cleaning with vinegar and baking soda

Many colorful scratches left by kid’s toys in bathtub – BEFORE cleaning with vinegar and baking soda

colorful scratch marks from colorful toys, left on acrylic tub

colorful scratch marks from colorful toys, left on acrylic tub

Acrylic tub cleaned with only vinegar and baking soda - removing scratches from colorful toys

Acrylic tub cleaned with only vinegar and baking soda – removing scratches from colorful toys

My mom cleans her teapot stains each week by putting bleach in the bottom and after about 30 seconds it’s sparkling. I decided I would try a few other methods, but nothing got it as clean as the bleach. I got it looking like the picture below with the vinegar/baking soda and not much scrubbing. I think it looks sufficient. πŸ™‚ – she doesn’t. πŸ™ lol.

tea stained pot before cleaning

tea stained pot before cleaning

tea-stained pot after cleaning with vinegar and baking soda

tea-stained pot after cleaning with vinegar and baking soda

*Give grease the slip: I had read you can eliminate grease stains from your kitchen by wiping them with a dampened cloth of equal parts vinegar and water. Well this did NOT work, however with the addition of baking soda – WOW! I had never found a way to clean people’s hood ranges once they had neglected to clean them for what seems an eternity. I was amazed :). It takes a few layers and a bit more scrubbing power than I care for, but in the end, it works. YAY! I was about to dispose of one that was in a rental home of my husband’s. People lived there a couple years and clearly didn’t care to clean much. I thought I had tried everything to remove the grease, but after trying this method, I am quite proud to say – I GOT IT OFF :D.

*Cat scratching furniture. To discourage your cat from using your furniture as a scratching post, spray vinegar on the area. I had to do this 2 days in a row to really get my cat to leave the furniture alone, but I notice she hasn’t scratched the couch in a week now. I’m sure I will have to reapply soon, but this trick – I like :). Apparently you can use this idea in areas where puppies have made an accident on the floor to keep them from repeating it.

*Easier peeling for Eggs. I am the worst boiled-egg-peeler. I tend to have troubles, constantly peeling half the egg white along with the shell. There was a tip telling me to boil eggs in 2 tablespoons of vinegar for every liter of water in order to stop them from cracking and to make them easier to peel. I must say, I’m SO GLAD this one worked for me! πŸ˜€ ahhhhh.

*Use vinegar as fabric softner. I love my downy fabric softner, but I was willing to give this one a shot. I have been using vinegar in my rinse cycle as a replacement for the Downy and am pleasantly surprised. It’s been 7 loads and I have not seen any static yet. I also do NOT notice ANY vinegar fragrance. With the price of fabric softner, can you imagine how much $$$ you will save per load? I should say, I have also been adding Borax to each load to freshen and boost my detergent’s power.

*Cleaning glass and mirrors. This is an old tried and true tip. Mix a spray bottle 50/50 vinegar and water. Spray on and wipe off windows, and glass for a streak-free shine. This method is a lot less expensive than store bought brands. πŸ™‚

Here’s a quick list of some of the techniques I tried, which were less than impressive:
*Cleaning the tub with a half grapefruit as the sponge, with salt on it. Not very good
*Defrosting windshields with 50/50 vinegar. Not at all
*Unclogging a drain with vinegar and baking soda. Nope – didn’t work very well
*Cleaning chrome and stainless steel with undiluted vinegar. mehh
*Unglue stickers with vinegar. works slightly, but not well – left stickiness behind even with repeated applications
*For brighter whites, add 1/2 cup baking soda to laundry. Not sure, but I noticed NO CHANGE in my laundry…
These are all just “my opinion” and by my trial and error. Other people may have found these things DO work, however I highly doubt it πŸ˜‰

If the smell of vinegar is not your favourite aroma, try infusing cucumber into yours. I have been adding cucumber to my vinegar for a long time. Whenever I use a cucumber, I take off a bit of the peel and place into a Tupperware with vinegar. Whenever I peel another one, I remove the old cucumber and discard, then add the newest one. It will take a few days for the scent to permeate.

vinegar infused with cucumber for better fragrance

vinegar infused with cucumber for better fragrance


p.s. I tried infusing with orange peel, but find it doesn’t change the fragrance as well as cucumber.

Well, this is just the beginning of my ongoing mission to test out different techniques to make these natural products work throughout the home. My suggestion is that you keep a few spray bottles prepared with full-strength vinegar, another one with 50/50 vinegar, a jug of vinegar beside the washing machine, a box of baking soda in the kitchen and one in the bathroom for quick and easy access. Having these items at your fingertips when needed will save you time and money in the long run, which is what it’s all about – putting valuable time back in your hands. πŸ˜‰

Thanks for tuning in!

Tanya
Tanya@cleaningdeclutter.com
416.428.5929

Comments

  1. Great blog, Tanya! As with your experience, the vinegar/water for my windshield absolutely did NOT work for me either!

    I use hydrogen peroxide in my bathroom diluted with a bit of water – ‘they’ say it works well as a disinfectant.

    Congratulations on the blog!

  2. I was going to try the trick for a frozen windshield. I know not to waste my time now. Thanks for the tips , keep them coming!!!

Leave a Reply