Natural Home Hygiene, Part 3: More Tips and Tricks E-mail
Tuesday, 06 August 2013 00:00  |  Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry

Lit Match photo by RespresBeyond those noted in part 1 and part 2 of my natural home-cleaning series, here are a few more of the practical and Earth-friendly tips and tricks I've picked up over the years while investigating green home-cleaning solutions. If you have some eco-cleaning wisdom of your own that you think other readers might benefit from, please use the comments section below to share them.

  • Light a match or burn a candle to eat up bad smells in the bathroom.
  • Mix water, baking soda, salt and vinegar into your preferred consistency for an all-purpose cleaner.
  • Place baking soda and tea-tree oil in toilets before scrubbing.
  • Mix 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 quart warm water for a streak-free window cleaner.
  • Clean windows with crumpled-up newspaper and buff until shiny.
  • For clogged drains, put on a pair of gloves and use a channel wrench to open up the easy-to-access plumbing under the sink; it's the only guaranteed solution.
  • For clogged-drain wimps: pour baking soda down the drain/disposal, follow with vinegar and allow to foam for several minutes before flushing with boiling water.
  • To clean porcelain, rub with cream of tartar sprinkled on a damp cloth.
  • Cover hard-lime deposits around faucets with vinegar-soaked paper towels for one hour before cleaning to soften deposits.
  • Prevent oven cleanup by placing a sheet of aluminum foil on the oven floor. Reuse the foil as many times as possible.
  • Sprinkle salt on an oven spill while oven is still warm; scrape away the spill after oven is cooled and wipe clean.
  • Clean cooking pans while still warm, before hard crusting.
  • With burnt food in the pan, add more water and heat again to dissolve and soften burn residue before cleaning while still warm.
  • Rub salt into copper pan stains with half a lemon.
  • Add 1 cup of white vinegar to automatic dishwasher rinse.
  • Grind lemon rinds and ice until pulverized in garbage disposal to disinfect and sharpen.
  • Combine dish soap and hydrogen peroxide to lift red-wine stains like magic before your very eyes.
  • Remove other stains on carpet and clothing with club soda.
  • Remove heel marks on floors with a pencil eraser.
  • Use toothpaste to clean your best silver.
  • Clean chrome with undiluted vinegar.
  • Clean stainless steel with a paste of baking soda and water.
  • Clean brass with equal parts salt, flour and vinegar.
  • Sprinkle baking soda in shoes to deodorize.
  • Deter moths with Osage oranges, cedar chips, crumpled newspaper and lavender flowers.

Be sure to leave your environmental cleaning tips below!

Read Part 1: Environmentally Sound Methods of Cleaning Your House
Read Part 2: Think Like a Germ

Additional resources:
Clearing the Air: Best Plants for Improving Indoor Air Quality
My Body Is a Self-Cleaning Organism: Natural Body Cleansing Tips

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Comments (13)add
Written by Craig Sedoris , November 01, 2011
These are some great deep cleaning tips for all those little random jobs that seem impossible. It really is amazing how little we actually need chemicals to clean!
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Written by Dani , October 25, 2011
Love all the tips. Thank you for posting.
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Written by krisanne Burge , October 25, 2011
Catsup is an awesome copper cleaner!! Was told this by the craftsman when I bought a hand made copper ladle.
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Written by Pilgrim , June 01, 2010
This works for berries and perhaps beets. My mom shared this with me and it really works, just make sure not to wash the fabric before hand or the stains won't come out
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Written by Tonya Kay , May 28, 2010
Cool! Only berries or other stains, too? How did you discover this technique!?
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Written by Pilgrim , May 28, 2010
To get berry stains (strawberries, raspberries, etc) out of fabric for good put the kettle on and wait for it to boil. Immediately pour the hot water on the stain until it dissolves. This really works, but make sure you boil quiet a bit of water depending on the size of the stain (a full kettle should be good for a small-medium stain).
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Written by Tonya Kay , November 05, 2009
Cinnamon is an ant deterrent! I didn't know that! Did you know you can spray cayenne pepper water on your garden plants to effectively keep squirrels away?

And it sounds like baking soda has many more uses than we give it credit for. I don't know if baking soda is a "naturally occurring" product, but I do know it is non-toxic and does not pollute water supplies. In fact, I can eat baking soda in quantity with only over-alkalinity as an immediate result. Not that I eat baking soda, personally.

With regards to matches, I don't wanna spend too much energy on them, but since you asked for my conceptual opinion, Debby:

For me, when comparing the reason I use matches vs. the reason one uses air fresheners, they are not interchangeble. Matches instantly absorb very specific bathroom odors, if you know what I mean. Air fresheners emit scent into air continuously, which only combines with (rather than absorbs) the specific bathroom odor I am speaking of, making a very fruity pooty smell. Not at all like the instant one-time removal of the odor with one little match.

For me, also, I try not to recycle. My goal is to purchase no products at all. Including ones that need to A) be thrown out or B) be recycled because, for obvious reasons in the former, and the latter: recycling plastic and metal takes more energy than producing new plastics and metal and the transport, manufacture and redistribution of these recycled plastic or metal products isn't saving the world. Paper recycling is another matter, from my research.

Now, I don't have all the answers, but like everyone, I have an opinion ... the match I use once/week, going through maybe 6 books/year, degrades much quicker than a bottle or plastic container recycles or degrades. And the good news about matches is that they, like baking soda, are not "naturally occurring" but are non-toxic:

"Finally, by 1910, the general public's awareness of the dangers of the white phosphorous in these matches led to a worldwide campaign to ban them. Thankfully, Diamond Match Company obtained an U.S. patent for the first nonpoisonous match, which used the harmless chemical sesquisulfide of phosphorous in place of the deadly white phosphorous."

Anyone have any more tips and tricks to share?
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Written by Teri , November 05, 2009
I use a natural airfreshener call Air Therapy by Mia Rose. It's biodegradable, containing only the oils of spruce, fir trees and orange peels. It comes in a recyclable aluminum container. And no propellants--just a mister.
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Written by Debby Grant , November 05, 2009
I'm not sure matches contain less chemicals than air freshener products, Tonya. Are you sure this is a good eco alternative?
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Written by Kate Mura , November 05, 2009
I like to put baking soda and cinnamon down on rugs before vacuuming our few carpets in the house. Smells wonderful and is supposedly an ant deterrent too! At least cinnamon around my tent works when camping.
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Written by jc , November 04, 2009
I leave an open box of baking soda in my refrigerator to absorb smells and then after a few months use it as an abrasive to clean my stove top, or pour it down my kitchen drain to deodorize generally and to clean my disposal blades.
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Written by Tonya Kay , November 03, 2009
That's why I eat raw vegan, Joanna! Because I dont like to clean. I'm not kidding, this diet means: no trash to take out, no sticky oils and grease to wipe off, no pans to clean, no stove, microwave or other gadgets to wash, and no cockroaches on the inside either, if you know what I mean. I'm just a lazy kat who eats raw to not have to clean! And you might be, too, by the sounds of it!
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Written by Joanna Steven , November 03, 2009
And eat raw so you don't have to deal with the oven/stove/pan messes :)
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