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5 Chemical-Free Summer Cleaning Hacks to Brighten Up Your Home

Bleach isn't always best!


Dirty windows. Muddy shoes. Bathroom mildew. With the rise of humidity and an increase in outdoor activities, your home is due for a good spiff-up. Our summer cleaning whizzes have natural solutions to outsmarting dirt and grime for a lighter, brighter, more joyful home.

Polish up windowsills with a two-in-one mist.

We love throwing open our windows on a summer day, but we could do without the dirt collecting on our sills. “To get them gleaming again, fill a spray bottle with three cups of warm water, 1⁄4 cup of white vinegar and 1⁄4 tsp. of dish soap,” says Melissa Burnell from The soapy suds dislodge silt, while the vinegar dissolves it, letting it lift right off with a quick swipe.

Spiff up garden shoes with a spin in the dishwasher.

Noticed your garden clogs, flip-flops or other rubber-soled shoes have accumulated dirt that doesn’t wipe off? “Just pop them in the dishwasher on a cold wash, then air-dry them,” recommends Hanna Brooks Olsen, co-host of the Spotless podcast. The dishwasher’s water jets safely remove embedded dirt, making shoes like-new again. Bonus: Check out our handy guide to cleaning white shoes.

Revive carpet colors with salt water.

Longer days mean more sun shining on your rug, which can cause fading. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to revitalize its color: Fill a spray bottle with one quart of warm water and dissolve four tablespoons of table salt in it. Spritz your carpet lightly, allowing the solution to sit for 30 minutes, then vacuum, advises cleaning expert Jess Kielman from Salt is used in the rug-dying process, so when you add more, it reactivates the color, making it more vibrant! Bonus: Chloride in salt helps seal color into the fiber so it’s less likely to fade in the future.

Get whites whiter with natural ‘bleach.’

If you’re like us, summer heat means you’re doing more loads of laundry — but all those washes can turn whites gray from dirt transferred from other clothes. To the rescue: “Along with your detergent, add 1⁄4 cup of lemon juice and 1⁄4 cup of baking soda to a regular wash cycle,” says Burnell. “Then, during the rinse cycle, add 1 1⁄2 cups of white vinegar.” Lemon and vinegar whiten, while baking soda lifts dirt, making light-colored clothing crisp and clean naturally.

Outsmart mildew with a tea tree brew

When humid days trigger mildew in your bathroom, Kait Schulhof from has the fix: “Spray surfaces with a combo of one cup of white vinegar and 20 drops of tea tree oil, let sit for an hour, then wipe.” Tea tree oil is an anti-fungal that lifts mold and prevents it from growing back.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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