Eco-Friendly and Natural Cleaning Recipes To Use In Your Home and Office

Just in time for the Holidays, when you may have more dirt around thanks to more-than-normal foot traffic, and closed windows keeping out the cold weather, I'm providing you with eco-friendly and natural cleaning recipes to use to keep your home and office clean and chemical free.  Some of you may already know these agents, or have them in your cupboard. If you don't, next time you're at the store pick them up!

I know that some of you may be thinking, but what about scents? We want our apartment to smell like cinnamon (go buy some cinnamon sticks!), or gingerbread (bake some, the smell will linger for hours!), or pine tree (buy a real tree, just make sure you recycle it according to your city and state recycling laws). If you go the natural route in regards to scenting your home, you'll avoid the fake chemical scents in over-the-counter products like candles (not all), soaps, deodorizers, sprays and yes, cleaning products.

What I mean by fake chemical scents is that most of these products contain harsh chemicals that have been linked to causing breathing problems in all beings, adults, children and pets. The other thing to remember is that these scents linger over time and the more you use them, the more damage they are doing to your health.  As noted on TheDailyGreen, "These chemicals can produce indoor air pollution by off-gassing toxic fumes that can irritate eyes and lungs. (Children and pets are most at risk.) Many cleaners also contain unnecessary antibacterial agents (pesticides, technically), that can actually make bacteria stronger, and more resistant to antibacterial drugs." 

With that in mind, lets make some natural cleaners! 

Just an FYI, I bought both my large container of baking soda and vinegar from the cleaning isles at Target. These items are by no means expensive, and while I myself use Seventh Generation products and Method on occasion, I am aware that they are not always in everyone's budget.  

The great thing about the recipes provided below (thank you TheDailyGreen!) is that items like baking soda, don't have a scent, but is a great deodorizer and vinegar, while doesn't smell too good at first, wears off in no-time and is one of the best cleaning agents around, especially for glass. I tell you this in case you decide that vinegar and baking soda might not go well with the scents of cinnamon and gingerbread. It is not true! You'll be fine and that lack of, or lingering scent will make your nose happier. 

All these recipes require are the following items: 
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray Bottle 
  • Lemon Juice (good substitute for vinegar) 
  • Liquid Soap
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Club Soda (great for carpet stains!)

General Cleaning (kitchens and bathrooms):
Baking Soda and Water: Dust surfaces with baking soda, then scrub with a moist sponge or cloth. If you have tougher grime, sprinkle on some kosher salt, and work up some elbow grease. 
Lemon Juice or Vinegar: Got stains, mildew or grease streaks? Spray or douse with lemon juice or vinegar. Let sit a few minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush. 
Disinfectant: Instead of bleach, make your own disinfectant by mixing 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil.
Kosher Salt and Water: If you need a tougher abrasive, sprinkle on kosher salt and scrub with a wet cloth or sponge. 

Oven Cleaning:
Baking Soda and Water: Coat the inside of your dirty appliance with a paste made from water and baking soda. Let stand overnight. Then, don gloves and scour off that grime. Make spotless with a moist cloth.

Windows and Mirrors:
White Vinegar, Water and Newspaper: Mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with a gallon of water, and dispense into a used spray bottle. Squirt on, then scrub with newspaper, not paper towels, which cause streaking. If you're out of vinegar or don't like its smell, you can substitute undiluted lemon juice or club soda.

Club Soda: You've probably heard the old adage that club soda works well on carpet stains. But you have to attack the mess right away. Lift off any solids, then liberally pour on club soda. Blot with an old rag. The soda's carbonation brings the spill to the surface, and the salts in the soda thwart staining. 
Cornmeal: For big spills, dump cornmeal on the mess, wait 5 to 15 minutes, and vacuum up the gunk.
Spot Cleaner: Make your own by mixing: 1/4 cup liquid soap or detergent in a blender, with 1/3 cup water. Mix until foamy. Spray on, then rinse with vinegar. 
To Deodorize: Sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on the carpet or rug, using about 1 cup per medium-sized room. Vacuum after 30 minutes.

Wood Floors:
Vinegar: Whip up a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar and 30 ounces of warm water. Put in a recycled spray bottle, then spray on a cotton rag or towel until lightly damp. Then mop your floors, scrubbing away any grime. 

Baking Soda: Add a 1/2 cup of baking soda in with your normal cleaner - it's great for deodorizing and helps regulate the pH level in the washer water to keep it from being too acidic or alkaline. Additionally, it helps to boost the detergent you are using by making it work more effectively and reduce order causing bacteria. 

And don't forget, while you're cleaning and getting ready for Holiday festivities, be sure to pay attention to unwanted items and properly dispose of them-recycle what you can, donate what can be used again (there are many programs like the NY Cares Coat Drive in NY City that collects gently worn coats to give to individuals in need during the winter months), and consider this as you purchase items for the Holiday season.  

Next month, we'll discuss how to decorate your home, even though the Holiday season will be in full swing, without taxing the environment too much. Exciting, I know! We're going to get creative! 

Until December, Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your time with family, friends, and loved ones.