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From the Magazine

5 Surprising Household Products That Double As Miracle Cleaners


Forget pricey, chemical-laden cleaning solutions!  There are plenty of natural dirt and grime-busters lying around your home that will get rid of mess in a hurry. Mary Findley, co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Cleaning ($9.99, Amazon), and Halle Cottis, author of Natural Solutions for Cleaning and Wellness ($15.87, Amazon), are sharing five easy ways to clean your home for free using products you already own. 

Preserve wood Furniture with an olive oil polish. 

As it turns out, your wood furniture is a lot like your skin: It benefits from a good moisturizer! “Thankfully, it’s easy to make a cleaner and conditioner in one, ” promises Findley. “Just mix one part olive oil, one part vinegar and 1/2-tablespoon of lemon juice, ” she says. “The olive oil polishes while the vinegar disinfects, and the citric acid in the lemon juice lifts stains.”

Lift soap scum with hot vinegar.   

Make your own bathroom cleaner with this simple recipe from Findley: In a spray bottle, mix 1 cup of baking soda (it scrubs), 1⁄2 cup of dish soap (it removes dirt), 1⁄3 cup of borax (it whitens grout), 2 tablespoons of white vinegar (it fights germs) and 1 cup of warm water. For super tough scum, nix the water and up your vinegar measurement to 1⁄4 cup. You can also heat the vinegar before adding it to the mix to boost its cleaning power. Let your solution sit on shower walls for 15 minutes, then wipe.

Clean kitchen counters with diluted alcohol. 

To create an effective kitchen cleaner that’s gentle enough to use on granite, “Fill a 32-ounce spray bottle halfway [up] with water, then add a squirt of dish soap and 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol, ” says Findley. “The alcohol disinfects, but won’t scratch counters. Just spritz and wipe!”

Erase carpet stains with shaving cream. 

If food or dirt has left its mark on your rugs, just grab some shaving cream from the bathroom, urges Findley. “It contains soap and alcohol, which clean and disinfect, ” she explains. “Let it sit on the spot for five minutes, then wipe [the area] with a dry cloth. Next, press your knuckles into the stain with a damp cloth, turning clockwise. This lifts the stain from between the fibers without leaving a rough spot!”

Get windows sparkling with a streak-free solvent. 

To whip up your own window cleaner for a fraction of the cost of a store-bought solution, mix 3 cups of water with 1⁄3 cup of rubbing alcohol. The mixture will disinfect surfaces and evaporate quickly so it doesn’t leave streaks, says natural-cleaning expert Halle Cottis, author of Natural Solutions for Cleaning and Wellness. “You can also use this solution to make stainless steel appliances sparkle.”

This story originally appeared in our print magazine. 

We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier. 

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