Recipes for natural solutions to replace chemical cleaners

"I'm trying to get chemicals out of my house as much as I can and it would be great to do away with all the miscellaneous cleaners we have around the house! I'd like to hear what other parents use as recipes for natural cleaning solutions, furniture polish, alternatives to chemical pesticides, etc. Thanks!"

"I have chemical allergies and have had to completely re-do all the cleaning solutions, etc., that I use. I have found that Shaklee offers some good alternatives that are safe to use. they have low-cost solutions for dusting, window cleaning, washing floors, cleaning bathrooms, etc. Basic H & Basic G are good for these. Also, I have found their Basic L & Softer-Than-Soft to be an excellent source for laundry. I can;'t use scented laundry soap and fabric softener and have found these products to be great! They offer a wide variety of products that are safe for humans to use and environmentally safe, too. They are no more expensive than other products. I know this may sound like an advertisement for Shaklee but it's just what I've found works for me and my family. As far as alternatives to chemical pesticides, planting marigolds in your garden is a good deterrent for certain insects. A borax & water solution can sometimes help houseplant bugs."

"Baking soda and vinegar are excellent cleaners for just about any household jobs. Vinegar is a disinfectant and can be used with water to clean the refrigerator (then put in an open box of baking soda to absorb the odors); use vinegar and water with newspapers to clean windows - no streaks (it takes so much less time to get them done too!), and it cleans the chemical `stuff' out of fresh vegetables. Baking soda gets stains out of counter tops, scrubs a stove clean, and when used with vinegar, gets a toilet bowl sparkling, etc. Instead of oven cleaner use Baking soda, water, salt, and 1/4 cup of ammonia (let it sit in oven overnight). Use baking soda and vinegar to clean stainless steel sinks, teapots, cupboards, etc."

"Many companies are bringing out new environmentally safe products or are finding new uses for familiar products. Arm & Hammer can be used for a variety of cleaning needs (they have a chart that defines uses for their product)."

"Here are some recipes I use for pesticides and cleaning solutions:

Ants - Wash counters, floors, etc., with a mixture of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water. You can also grow Pennyroyal, Spearing, Southernwood or Tansy around your home.

Fleas and Ticks - Add 1 tsp. of vinegar to 1 quart of water per 40 pounds of pet weight.

Flies - Beat an egg yolk with 1 tbsp. of molasses and finely ground black pepper, and set out this mixture in shallow plates.

Mosquitos - Plant Tansy or Basil around your yard. Other measures are to burn Citronella candles or wear Citronella oil.

Rust stains - Scrub with lemon juice mixed with salt.

Chocolate stains - Before washing, soak in club soda. Rub shortening into stain and wash; or, apply milk to stain to keep from setting.

Perspiration stains - Sponge stains with white vinegar or lemon juice; or soak in water with two dissolved aspirins.

Stainless steel sinks - Rub with olive oil to remove streaks.

Furniture polishes - Use a mixture of 2 tbsp. of olive oil, 1 tbsp of white vinegar, and 1 quart of warm water. Then spray on and wipe dry."

"A recipe for silver polish is to soak your silver in 1 quart of warm water with one tbsp. of baking soda, one tbsp. of salt and a small piece of aluminum foil."

"To clean up spills on carpets, I use club soda to get the stain out and vinegar to take care of any odor left. Before using the club soda, I soak the stain up as much as I can with just a dry rag."

"Read the newest HELOISE'S HINTS FOR THE 90'S - which includes recipes for the cleaning solutions you are looking for."

"These are a few tips from LIVING magazine. To make a disinfectant, dissolve 1/2 cup of borax (natural mineral that kills mold and bacteria) into one gallon hot water. You can also boil two cups of water and pour over two cups of fresh thyme (antiseptic herb). Steep the brew for ten minutes, then strain into plastic spray bottles and cool. To wash windows and mirrors add 3 tablespoons of vinegar to one cup of cold strong black tea. Store this mixture in plastic spray bottles also. For water spots on furniture, massage a dab of white toothpaste on the spot and let it dry. Then buff it off with a clean cloth. If you scratch a wood surface, rub the `meat' of a walnut into the scratch."

"I use baby shampoo to clean bathroom sinks and faucets."

"Murphy's Oil Soap is a safe cleanser to use on floors and wood products."

"There is a book called, THE NONTOXIC HOME, by Debra Lynn Dadd, that lists absolutely everything. It has an entire chapter on baby supplies and children's products including clothes and toys, nursing supplies, foods, bedding, etc. It tells you if the product is toxic, recycled, organic, compassionate to animals, natural, non-polluting, renewable, how it is packaged, etc., etc. It has over 400 do-it-yourself formulas and lists over 600 mail order sources of wonderful products and alternatives. This book costs $11.95 and is available at bookstores or from the author at PO Box 1506, Mill Valley, CA 94942."

"Contact Greenpeace Action, 1436 U Street, Suite 201-a, Washington, D.S., 20009 for their poster called A MINIMUM IMPACT GUIDE TO THE HOME. they offer numerous alternatives to toxic and environmentally hazardous cleaning agents as well as methods to reduce household wastes."

"For insect spray you can place one cigarette in a quart of water overnight. Strain and spray your plants. If you have ants, trace the line of ants to see where they are entering and then seal it off. Or, you can pour a line of cinnamon, red chili pepper, salt, or perfume to block them."

"Cedar chips or dried lavender are a good substitute for mothballs. Also, lemon juice & salt, or white vinegar & salt are good for removing mildew."

"I use vinegar and baking soda followed by hot water to keep drains running smoothly. A book which might help is CLEAN & GREEN, by Annie Berthold-Bond. It's published by Ceres Press, PO Box 87, Woodstock, NY 12498."

"Feeding fennel, rue & rosemary to your pet helps repel fleas."

"For mice; put a bowl of instant mashed potato flakes next to a bowl of water. The mice eat the flakes then drink the water and the flakes expand in their stomach. Their stomachs burst and they die. They decompose so fast if they go into the walls that you don't usually notice any odor."

"For mopping the floors I just use plain hot water. It works and doesn't have the high price. Corn syrup mixed with Borax will kill ants. Good luck and thanks for helping our Earth!"

"We have ants and I've just decided to clean until they're gone. They don't get the idea right away, but they catch on! Bay leaves crushed on their entrance may deter them."

"Try reading MAKING THE SWITCH: ALTERNATIVES TO USING TOXIC CHEMICALS IN THE HOME. It costs $6.00 and you can get it by sending to: Publication Dept., Local Government Commission, 909 12th St., Suite 205, Sacramento, CA 95814. (Or check at the library.)"

"These are recipes I use for furniture polish. For unwaxed wood: Dissolve 1 tsp. lemon oil (or 1 cup lemon juice) in 1 pint of mineral or vegetable oil. For waxed wood: Melt 1/4 cup paraffin and 1/4 cup vinegar together in double boiler. Soak a clean soft cloth in the mixture for 1/2 hour. Then wring and apply to wood. When dry, polish with a dry cloth."

"Baking soda provides a safe replacement for scouring powder - no bleach, no phosphates. Combined with vinegar it creates a foaming reaction that works great at removing soap and hard water deposits (the kids love to watch!). Used regularly, the combination can keep drains clean as well - shake in some soda, pour in vinegar and place stopper in to shoot it down the pipes. Vinegar and borax can both be used as mild disinfectants. Borax is also a good alternative to bleach - it smells better too! Sunshine is the best whitener of all. Think about putting up a clothesline this spring. Oil soap, such as Murphy's, is a good all-purpose cleaner. I use it for dusting too by dampening an old sock. Plain ammonia, kept out of reach, is an environmentally safe cleaner for just about anything (except wood). Use your last emptied glass cleaner bottle to provide a sprayer. Corn starch and water makes the best window cleaner. Use newspaper instead of a paper towel to eliminate the `lint.' Check the library for CHEAPER AND BETTER, by Nancy Birnes."

"I use an organic cleanser called `Natures's Maid' from Natus, a company that makes aroma-therapy skin care products. It's a highly concentrated non-sudsing cleanser containing soluble castor oil and essential oils of lemon and orange. It smells wonderful and works on everything."

"Your local Co-op should be a source of products and books that will guide you towards environmentally safe products for the home."

"Vinegar water or lemon juice rubbed on floors, thresholds and counter tops will repel insects. A direct spray of vinegar or lemon juice will kill an insect."

"There is a wonderful book that deals with just this sort of thing. It's called, DIET FOR A POISONED PLANET, by David Stenman. I don't have the publishers' name but a library or book store should be able to find it for you."

"For a good book about organic pest control try SHEPHERD'S PURSE, by Pest Publications. It's a 52 page paperback has descriptions of insects and enlarged drawings to make identification simple."

"We like nontoxic Shaklee products because they claim to be 100% biodegradable. The concentrated solutions allow us to add our own water which cuts down on packaging costs. The products save us money and some are multi-purpose. Shaklee is listed in the phone book."

"White vinegar works as a good alternative to fabric softener in the washer."

"To pick up carpet dirt and grease you can sprinkle cornstarch on the carpet. Let it stand 5 to 10 minutes and then go over with the vacuum. To polish copper you can use toothpaste or make a paste of equal parts salt, flour and white vinegar or lemon juice. You just polish and rinse. For cleaning brass you can cut a lemon in half and then dip the cut side in salt and rub unlacquered brass. Then rinse with cold water and buff with a soft cloth."

"I've used herbal potpourri or cotton balls soaked in vanilla to make a sweet smelling air freshener. You can also boil cinnamon and cloves in a small amount of water for another method."

"A Swedish study on toxic products in the household has shown that toxic substances found in most houses can be reduced by more than 50% if the household members simply remove their `outdoor' shoes before coming indoors, since many of the substances are carried in on our shoes. Simply always take your shoes off before entering the house! (It cuts down on cleaning and vacuuming time too!)"

"I had 3 children in 1 year and I found the best baby wipes are home made. All you need is 1 tbsp. of baby oil, 2 tbsp of baby shampoo, 4 cups of water, 1 roll of sturdy paper towels and a container large enough to hold a roll of paper towels. Just mix the oil with the shampoo, add the water and mix. Add the roll of paper towels and lit it soak up the liquid. Then put a lid on tight. Add water if needed if it starts to dry up as time goes on. (It works great for babies with diaper rash!)"

"Here are a couple of ideas for pest control. For roaches, take a jar and smear grease or vaseline around inside the rim. Then put a banana in the jar. Use a tongue depressor as a ramp for the insects to walk up into the jar. Roaches are attracted by the food but are trapped and die. To cut down on fleas and ticks you can feed pets brewers yeast, vitamin B and garlic tablets. You also can sprinkle fennel, rue and rosemary near pet's resting area."

"To clean up pet urine, you can dampen the soiled area with equal parts of white vinegar and water. Then blow dry."

"To keep Deer and rabbits away from your garden you can hang small bags of blood meal or small bars of soap around on your trees. They don't like the smell. To control insects, encourage insect eaters like Bluebirds, Martins and Wrens by providing houses for them to nest in. You can attract toads by tuning a small flower pot over in some shade for them to hide under during the day (be sure to leave a way for them to get under it). Companion planting in the yard and garden also helps control insects and diseases. For a book on that method write to A Garden Way Publishing, Pownal, Vermont 05261. They have a book about companion planting called, CARROTS LOVE TOMATOES, by Louise Riotte."

"Here is a great nontoxic alternative for commercial furniture polish. Mix together either three parts olive oil and one part white vinegar, or two parts vegetable oil and one part lemon juice. Rub either mixture on furniture with a soft cloth (the wood will absorb it) and then wipe it off."

"Avon Skin So Soft lotion is an excellent bug repellent for the skin. Always check for a low phosphorous count on detergents. Clean with diluted, chemical free oil soap. Keep lots of air purifying house plants (all common types). Ventilate your home in good weather. Store necessary toxins far out of children's reach. You can't have a completely chemical free home - just doing your best counts!"

"To cut down on using chemicals in the bathroom make sure that you wipe off walls after showering because it helps prevent mildew and mold buildup before you have to use a cleaner on it in the first place. Also, instead of just letting all those hairs get washed down the drain and plug it up, get them out of the sink first."

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