We all know that feeling — that stomach-dropping feeling when, as if in slow motion, you watch a glass of wine, salsa or pizza tumble onto your favorite couch and then the carpet. Don’t pollute the air in your home by spraying around harsh, unsafe chemicals to clean it up; just open your pantry! Your home and your health will thank you.
Vinegar is one of the best-known natural cleaners. If your clothes are stained, use one part white vinegar and one part water for a natural solution. Full-strength apple cider vinegar can be used to remove ink stains from the walls or bathtub rings, and half strength (diluted with water) is helpful for tackling those annoying tea and coffee stains from mugs.
If you’ve ever put lemon juice in your hair to bring out those highlights in the summer, you know that lemon acts as a natural bleach. Soaking white work shirts in a mixture of hot water and lemon juice overnight before washing them in the morning will bring back their sparkly white shine. Another option is to wash them adding lemon juice to the cleaning cycle, then let them dry in the sun.
- Baking soda
When combined with water, baking soda forms a paste that acts as a natural abrasive. Crayon marks on walls, blood stains in clothes, and underarm sweat marks, be gone! Also, spilt wine can be wiped away later when you sprinkle baking soda on it and allow it to sit. After about an hour, run hot water through the back of the stain and voilà! Good as new. Nothing, however, can be done about the wasted wine.
The best thing about salt is that you’re usually already in the kitchen when you need it. Grease stains can be solved by pouring a generous amount of salt on them as soon as they happen. Burned pots and pans with non-stick coating are also salt’s specialty: leave salt in them overnight with a few cups of cold water, then bring it all to a boil in the morning. Finally, since it’s difficult to burn salt, the stuff is also a useful oven cleaner: pour it over a stray cookie that dropped mid-baking, and the spot will be easily removed post-cookie feast.
- Aluminum foil
There’s no need to expose yourself to poison just to clean the silver once a year. Bring a liter of water to a boil with a tablespoon of baking soda and a strip of aluminum foil. Then dip the silver in it for ten seconds, or more if it’s tarnished. This natural reaction is completely safe and transfers just the tarnish from the silver to the aluminum foil, leaving sparkly silver behind.
One more pro tip: if you find yourself with a gnarly food stain, your best bet is to use a knife to remove any residue before attacking it with cleaning supplies. If it’s a liquid stain, resist the impulse to rub it with a cloth — that will just move the stain around. Finally, remember to open your windows periodically to circulate the nice, fresh air around your pollution-free home. Breathe it in and enjoy!