After my daughter was born, my cleaning routine changed. This happened for several reasons. First, cleaning products are expensive! I am always on a budget, and I resented putting money toward such things. Second, my mom and grandma were helping me with newborn Story, and they showed me a different way of cleaning. Third, the idea of having unknown chemicals so close to my daughter’s skin (on the floor when she started crawling, in the bathtub, etc.) made me break out in hives. She’s a thumbsucker! If she touched the residue of any of those toxic cleaning products, it would immediately find its way into her mouth. So I changed my ways and have been cleaning-product-related-hive-free ever since!
Baking soda: This is a big one, so I buy a big bag (both to save money and to have a handy supply). Baking soda has a thousand uses: as a cleaner for bathtubs, counters, sinks, microwaves, ovens, stainless steel, refrigerators, in the clothes washer etc.; as a deodorizer in the refrigerator, throughout the house, in shoes; as toothpaste (oh, yes!); as a water softener; as a foot soak—the solutions are endless it seems. Google “baking soda cleaning recipes” and you’ll get about a half-million hits. You can also check out www.armandhammer.com for recipes and uses.
Vinegar: I also keep a big jug of white vinegar on hand. Vinegar mixes well with baking soda to create scrubbing bubbles (or a volcano, whichever you prefer) for toilets, drains, garbage disposals, and showers. Run vinegar through your coffee maker to clean it. (I run a course of just water through afterwards; no way am I going to risk a ruined cup of coffee in the morning.) Vinegar mixed with water makes for a great tile cleaner, though not stone tile. (Click here for an article on what to not use vinegar on.) I’ve even heard that you can mix vinegar with olive oil for a furniture polish, though I’ve not yet tried this myself.
Rubbing alcohol: I use a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water as my go-to for everyday disinfectant. It also works as a stain remover, window cleaner, water spot remover, and appliance cleaner (it works very nicely on stainless steel). Keep in mind that alcohol is flammable, and you should use it only in well-ventilated areas.
Hydrogen peroxide: This is another disinfectant, and one that I use on the harder jobs (aka nastiest) such as toilets and kitchen scum. But peroxide has several uses beyond acting as a kick-ass cleaner. It can be used to remove ear wax, as a mouthwash, to treat toenail fungus, and as a whitening agent for laundry and grout.
Dish soap: So much can be cleaned simply using hot soapy water! And when combined with the other items on my list, it can be even more powerful. Looking for a great floor cleaner? Mix dish soap with vinegar, baking soda, and water for a heavy-duty clean. Clean jewelry, brushes, and combs, and get rid of grease stains. Dish soap is a workhorse. Put it to use.
Tools: I just have to quickly mention the basic tools I use. I try to avoid paper towel whenever I can and have found that those cloth diapers work amazingly as rags. I also use old baby washcloths and towels. There’s no reason to throw away items that can be repurposed as rags! I also keep old toothbrushes. Those are super helpful for small spots and cracks. To go along with my homemade window cleaner, I use a squeegee on the windows, of course, but also on the table, countertops, mirrors, and anywhere else it will fit. Last but not least is my steam cleaner. I love my steam cleaner and use it on all non-carpeted floors. It cleans very well with just plain water and a pad that can be thrown in the washer.
We’d love to have your input! Do you have any go-to cleaning solutions that are pocketbook friendly and tried and true?