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Casa Verde: Natural House-Cleaning Hints

I know that a lot of you, like me, are making the transition to eco-friendly cleaning products, since most over-the-counter cleaners are bad for both the environment and your health. Of course, there are a lot of great eco-friendly brands out there, but you can also clean your house with ordinary and non-toxic substances you probably already have lying around.


Thanks to Mallomar for pointing me to this list of natural household cleaning tips from holistic health guru Dr. Andrew Weil. I can't wait to try some of these; I especially love the idea of replacing my bleach-based mildew remover with grapefruit-seed oil. Check out the list and tell me if you've tried any of these when you read more

  • Baking soda: An all-purpose cleaner; especially effective on glass coffee pots and glassware; removes red-wine stains from carpeting. A paste (made with water) can shine stainless steel and silver; the paste can also remove tea stains from cups and saucers. Make a paste with a castille- or vegetable-based liquid soap and a drop of essential oil (tea tree or lavender) to clean sinks, countertops, toilets and tubs. Pour 1 cup down the sink to clear a clogged drain, followed by 3 cups of boiling water.
  • Boiling water: Use weekly to flush drains and avoid clogs.
  • Coarse salt: Cleans copper pans and scours cookware. Sprinkle salt on fresh spills in the oven, then wipe off. Sprinkle salt on rust stains and squeeze a lime or lemon over them, let sit for several hours and wipe off.
  • Essential oils: Mix lavender or tea tree essential oils with water and spray on kitchen or bathroom surfaces for an environmentally and people-friendly antibacterial spray.
  • Grapefruit-seed extract: Add a few drops to water in a spray bottle for an odorless way to kill mold and mildew.
  • Lemon juice: Use as a bleaching agent on clothing, and to remove grease from your stove and countertops. Add 2 Tbsp lemon juice to 10 drops of (real) lemon oil and a few drops of jojoba oil to clean and polish wood furniture.
  • Olive oil: Use to lubricate and polish wood furniture (three parts olive oil to one part vinegar; or two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice).
  • Potatoes: Halved potatoes can remove rust from baking pans or tinware — follow with a salt scrub or dip the potato in salt before scrubbing.
  • Tea tree oil: Can be added to vinegar/water solutions for its antibacterial properties. Use it to kill mold and mildew, and on kitchen and bathroom surfaces instead of chemical products. Add 50 drops to a bucket of water to clean countertops and tile floors.
  • Toothpaste (white, plain): Cleans silver; can remove water stains on wood furniture — dab on, allow it to dry and wipe off.
  • White vinegar: Cleans linoleum floors and glass (from windows to shower doors) when mixed with water and a little liquid soap (castille or vegetable). Cuts grease and removes stains; removes soap scum and cleans toilets (add a bit of baking soda if you like). Pour down drains once a week for antibacterial cleaning. Add to water in a spray bottle to kill mold and mildew.
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