Hey-o – the DIY Diva here. Since my housemates and I were able to save enough $$ in our monthly bills to get our cable reconnected I’ve found myself up late night, staring at the boob tube after everyone else has been sawing logs in our household.
My latest late night television obsession is the BBC show How Clean Is Your House?
I happen to be a bit of a neat freak at times (I come by it naturally, my mother is a master-tidier). And, seeing others wholly disgustingly filthy living situations makes me feel better about the pile of laundry in the hamper I’m procrastinating on doing or the fact that my housemates leave shoes lying everywhere or the couple of dishes left from last night’s dinner that we haven’t washed and put away.
A clean house is the next best thing to crawling into freshly washed/dried bedsheets at night for making me feel calm and like everything in the world is in order.
Kate’s Handy List o’ Cheap/Eco-Friendly Cleaning Stuffs:
White Vinegar: If you mix equal parts of white vinegar with water and store it in a spray bottle (grab one at the dollar store) it is great for cleaning surfaces like glass. You can also use vinegar and hot water to clean your kitchen and bathroom floors. Granted your house then smells like vinegar… better vinegar than harsh chemicals?
Lemon & Water: This is an amazing tip, seriously… I doubted this would work until I tried it. Take one whole lemon and slice it. Put the lemon into a glass bowl of water (or a large Pyrex baking pan) and use it to clean your microwave or oven. For the microwave, just zap the lemon and water for five to ten minutes (depending on how dirty and gross your microwave is) and then remove. The grime on the inside of your microwave will now be able to be wiped away with a cloth or a sponge. The same thing works for a conventional oven. Use a high temp and leave the water and lemon in for an hour or longer.
Baking Soda: Baking soda is great for scrubbing surfaces like your sink or counter or bathtub. Mix about a quarter cup of water with three cups of baking soda so that it forms a paste. With a little elbow grease and a sponge it will clean even the grimiest bathtub scum. Baking soda is also great for deodorizing fabrics. Sprinkle it on your carpet or fabric covered furniture, leave it sitting for about a half hour, then vacuum it on up.
Sodium Borate: This is better known as the cleaning product called Borax. It costs about $10 for a big-stinkin’ box of the stuff which will last you forever and a day. And, it can clean just about anything. I use it for fleas and ants. It kills ‘em dead. AND it’s not toxic to people or animals (unlike Raid or other comparable pest sprays). If you have a pet that brings fleas into your house (or a friend who has a pet w/fleas who brings them in on their clothing, as happened to me) just sprinkle sodium borate onto the carpet and all fabric surfaces you think might be infested. Let it sit for an hour and then vacuum it away. Fleas and flea eggs? DEAD. For ants you just need to mix a tablespoon of sodium borate with a few tablespoons of water in a shallow dish (a plastic lid from a to-go container works well) and leave it where ants come and go. The ants will be attracted to the mixture because it’s sweet, they will eat it and track it back to their ant hills, killing the ants dead. Borax is also a great stain remover try using it in place of laundry soap.
Club soda: This works really, really well to clean caked on grease or soap scum. Fill a clean spray bottle with club soda, spray it onto the area you want to clean and let it sit for ten minutes. The gross grime will just wipe away with a sponge or cloth. If it’s really icky you might need to repeat the process a couple of times.
Old Dryer Sheets: Old dryer sheets work extremely well to dust and polish furniture. And, it makes me feel a little better about using them (as they aren’t really eco-friendly) to use them twice.
Coca Cola: Okay, it is SERIOUSLY scary that Coca Cola works as a cleaning product… We put that shit into our bodies and it will clean everything from your toilet to the wheel wells of your car. It’s especially effective for toilets. Just dump one can of Coke into the toilet, let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes and then use a toilet brush to scrub the inside of the toilet bowl. Voila! Totally clean.
Toothpaste: Is great for cleaning tile and grout. Especially if it has baking soda or peroxide in it. Just dab a little bit onto the area which is gross and use a scrubbing sponge or toothbrush to work the toothpaste into the surface. Let it sit for a bit and then wipe it away with a damp cloth.
All of these methods cost pennies on the dollar in comparison to commercial cleaning products. And, they are mostly eco-friendly (or friendlier than the other choices). I’ve tried all of them and stand by them working for you.
You can read more writing by Kate Kotler on her website.