PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTINE GLADE/GETTY
Never waste your money on "antibacterial" cleaners and soaps whose active ingredients have been linked to thyroid damage, water pollution, and the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs like MRSA. Instead, kill germs with this all-purpose vinegar solution. It'll only cost you about 20 cents!
9 parts water
1 part white vinegar
Related: Bleach Versus Vinegar: Which Is A Better Disinfectant?
Mix ingredients in a spray bottle and clean away! For particularly nasty messes, such as a countertop after you've handled raw meat on it, squirt straight white vinegar on the surface, and follow with a squirt of hydrogen peroxide to knock out virtually all germs. (Remember to do a spot test first to make certain the surface doesn't discolor or otherwise react.)
PHOTOGRAPH BY SLOBO/GETTY
Common tile cleaners are laced with dozens of contaminants, including chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive damage, and hormonal harm. A 2009 analysis even detected formaldehyde, toluene, and benzene—components of gasoline—in the popular cleaner Comet. To clean greener, make your own scrubbing paste.
Related: 9 Surprising Uses For Baking Soda
½ cup baking soda
Liquid soap (we like Dr. Bronner's peppermint)
5 to 10 drops of pure essential oil of lavender or rosemary, or tea tree oil (optional)
Place baking soda in a bowl; slowly pour in liquid soap, stirring until it looks like frosting. Add optional essential oils. Scoop onto a sponge, scrub, and rinse. You can also try cutting a lemon in half and using that as a scrubber.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GEORGE HILL/GETTY
Avoid polluting your indoor air with the harsh ingredients that are often found in store-bought oven cleaners. This recipe works just as well.
2 cups hot water
1 tablespoon natural dish liquid (We like Ecover dishwashing liquid)
1 teaspoon borax
Mix the ingredients, spray on a spill, let sit for 20 minutes, and wipe off with a clean cloth. For handling an extra-greasy mess, wipe off as much loose goop as possible with crumpled newspaper first, then use the spray.
PHOTOGRAPH BY COMSTOCK/GETTY
Whip up a batch of natural window cleaner that won't aggravate allergies or asthma the way many store-bought formulations will. A bottleful will only run you about 40 cents.
¼ cup vinegar
½ teaspoon natural liquid soap (optional; we like Ecover dishwashing liquid or Dr. Bronner's)
2 cups water
Put all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to blend. To use the cleaner, spray onto the glass, covering as much as you can finish wiping in a few minutes at a time, scrub as needed with the rough side of a kitchen sponge, and squeegee off. Use a cotton cleaning cloth to dry off the blade of the squeegee between swipes, and to wipe up any liquid that puddles at the bottom edges of the windowpanes. Toss the cleaning cloths into the wash basket, and enjoy your sparkling windows.
PHOTOGRAPH BY HESHPHOTO/GETTY
Because household dust can be loaded with harmful substances like flame retardants, allergens, pesticides, and plastics chemicals, it's important to keep your home as clean as possible. However, many dust cleaners contain air contaminants and hormone-disrupting chemicals. Keep it safe by mixing up your own and using it to dust furniture and other surfaces where dust collects in your home.
10 drops pure lemon oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
A few drops olive oil
Use a clean recycled flannel cotton cloth to mop up dusty surfaces.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES AND JAMES/GETTY
It's ironic, but most air fresheners, because they're full of allergy- and asthma-inducing chemicals, actually worsen air quality. Sure, setting out a bowl of white vinegar is a go-to method for natural odor removal, but here's a recipe with a little added zip.
Related: 6 All-Natural Deodorizers
Several orange peels
2 cinnamon sticks
Pot of water
To get rid of tough kitchen odors, bring the pot of water to a boil with the orange peels, cloves, and cinnamon sticks, and leave it simmering on the stove for a while.
PHOTOGRAPH BY RUSSELL SADUR/GETTY
If you need an all-purpose cleaner with a little more grit than our vinegar/water solution, try this natural cleaning concoction. (Always spot-test before trying it on a new surface.)
2 teaspoons borax
1 teaspoon washing soda (not baking soda)
4 tablespoons vinegar
½ teaspoon natural liquid soap
¼ teaspoon tea tree oil
8 drops rosemary oil
8 drops tangerine oil
8 drops lavender oil
Dissolve borax and washing soda (find them in your store's laundry aisle) into 2 cups of very hot water, strain the mixture through a very fine sieve, and funnel it into a 1-quart spray bottle (or forget the sieve and just pour it in slowly, leaving behind any undissolved powder). Add the rest of the ingredients and shake to blend. Top off with more hot water and shake again.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JGI/JAMIE GRILL/GETTY
Many laundry detergents are loaded with questionable foaming agents and even migraine-inducing fragrance chemicals. Who would want to pay for a headache? Instead, save money and your health by making this laundry powder designed for warm-water loads.
½ cup soap flakes or grated plain bar soap
½ cup borax
½ cup washing soda
Combine ingredients well and store in a jar with an airtight lid. Use ½ to 1 tablespoon per load.
Looking for more DIY cleaning tricks? Joey Green's Cleaning Magic includes 2,336 ingenious cleanups using brand-name products:
From Your Fridge
• Remove tar from the dryer drum with Miracle Whip
• Deodorize a microwave with RealLemon
From Your Medicine Cabinet
• Clean stains on porcelain sinks with Colgate Regular Flavor Toothpaste
• Lift carpet dirt with Gillette Foamy
From Your Kitchen Cupboard
• Scrub pots and pans with crumpled Reynolds Wrap
• Shine cooktops with Canada Dry club soda
From Your Linen Closet
• Wipe away iron gunk with Purcell Instant Hand Sanitizer
• Wash Window screens with Scrubbing Bubbles
This practical, useful, funny, and entertaining volume includes thousands of incredibly simple ways to clean up every room (and dusty corner) in the house.