The key ingredients you need just might be hiding in your pantry.
By Lauren Smith
Some of the items in your pantry (like baking soda and vinegar) are effective cleaners and, even better, inexpensive. So the next time you have guests coming over, but you're out of your favorite cleaning product, don't run to the store — try one of these standbys instead.
Safety tip: Never combine ammonia-based cleaners with chlorine bleach or products containing bleach, such as powdered dishwasher detergent. The fumes they'll create are extremely dangerous. Before doing any mixing, read the product labels first.
To clean non-lacquered cabinet pulls, bathroom appointments, and more, dampen a sponge with vinegar or lemon juice, then sprinkle on salt. Lightly rub over surface. Rinse thoroughly with water, then immediately dry with a clean soft cloth.
To clean kitchen counters, appliances, and the inside of your refrigerator, all you need is baking soda. "It makes a great deodorizer and can be used to shine stainless steel sinks and appliances," says Carolyn Forte, director of theGood Housekeeping InstituteCleaning Lab. Just pour the above solution on a clean sponge and wipe.
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol 70% concentration ($6,amazon.com)
1 to 2 drops of orange essential oil ($9,amazon.com) for smell (optional)
The next time you need to wash your windows and mirrors, combine these ingredients and pour them in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on a paper towel or soft cloth first, then on the glass. Hint: Don't clean windows on a hot, sunny day, because the solution will dry too quickly and leave lots of streaks.
1/2 cup borax ($8,amazon.com), a laundry booster; find it in the detergent aisle
Rust stains on porcelain or enamel sinks and tubs are no match for this cleaner. Dip the lemon into the borax and scrub the surface, then rinse. (This is not safe for marble or granite.)
5. Grease cleaner
What you'll need:
1/2 cup sudsy ammonia ($12,amazon.com) mixed with enough water to fill a one-gallon container.
Sudsy ammonia, which has detergent in it, helps remove tough grime. Clean your oven hoods and grills by dipping a sponge or mop into the solution and wiping over the surface, then rinse with clear water.
6. Water ring remover
What you'll need:
One part white non-gel toothpaste ($7 for 2,amazon.com)
Places you've accidentally left a water ring (but not on unfinished wood, lacquer, or antiques), dampen a cloth with water, add the toothpaste mixture, and rub with the grain to buff over the spot. Then take a dry cloth and wipe off. Use another soft cloth for a final shine. Polish as you normally would.
7. Last-resort clothing stain remover
What you'll need:
1 gallon hot water
1 cup powdered dishwasher detergent ($7,amazon.com)
1 cup regular liquid chlorine bleach ($9,amazon.com), not ultra or concentrate
Treat badly stained washable or bleach-able garments by mixing the above ingredients into a stainless steel, plastic, or enamel bowl (not aluminum). Soak garment for 15 to 20 minutes. If stain is still there, let it soak a bit longer, then wash the item as usual.
8. Marble cleaner
What you'll need:
A drop or two of mild dishwashing liquid ($6,amazon.com), non-citrus-scented
2 cups warm water
Mix the detergent and water the next time you want to clean natural stone countertops. Sponge over marble and rinse completely to remove any soap residue. Buff with a soft cloth; do not let the marble air-dry. Caution: Never use vinegar, lemon, or any other acidic cleaner on marble or granite surfaces; it will eat into the stone.
Combine the above ingredients together, pour into a spray bottle, shake, and then let infuse for a week before using. Once done, you can use the solution to freshen laundry, banishes spots on carpeting, andmuch more. Plus, the fruit's acid adds extra cleaning properties — perfect for stubborn stains.
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