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Green Living
Naturally Clean
Simple recipes for cleaners that will keep your bathroom, kitchen, and bill of health spotless.

Worried that commercial household cleaners might be harming your health? Try these recipes to keep your home spick and span—without all the packaging and harsh chemicals.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
Baking soda
Distilled white vinegar
Olive oil
Tea tree oil

Bath and Shower
Soap scum buildup can be a nightmare, but cleaning it may be easier than you think. Instead of using a chemically intensive brand, warm up some vinegar and rub it directly on the spot. Wait five minutes, and then scrub it off, advises Adria Vasil in Ecoholic. Get rid of mildew by using a toothbrush to scrub on a paste made from borax and water. To eliminate mildew without all the wear and tear on your scrubbing hand, Vasil suggests adding two teaspoons of antifungal tea tree oil to two cups of water, spraying it on the area, and simply letting it work its magic. Baking soda or borax, shaken over a tub and wiped away with a wrung-out sponge, are also good alternatives to harsh commercial products.

The Toilet
A lot of the cleaners that we use to scour our toilet bowls contain corrosive chemicals that irritate our eyes, throat, and skin, like sodium bisulfate, sodium hydroxide, sodium hypochlorite, or phosphoric acid. The EPA’s office of pollution prevention and toxic substances recommends that people avoid products with those ingredients to minimize exposure, says Jim Darr, a chemist there. What should you use instead? A paste made with baking soda and water should do the trick. And to get rid of stains in your porcelain, use lemon juice.

Glass and Mirrors
Smudged windows and splattered mirrors leave much to be desired, but “many common window cleaners contain butyl cellosolve, a petroleum-based solvent that can damage your liver, kidneys, and red blood cells,” write the editors of Green Guide magazine in their book Green Guide: The Complete Reference for Consuming Wisely. It can also be harmful to your nerves and poison you if you accidentally swallow it. As a replacement for the products containing those chemical cocktails, spruce up your reflective surfaces by mixing these ingredients in a spray bottle: a quarter-cup of vinegar, a cup of water, and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Washing with newspaper is also a good alternative to paper towels, which can leave streaks.

Wood Furniture
The polishes you spray onto your wood furniture may keep your tables and chairs gleaming, but “lots of them have ingredients, like phenols, that have ties to cancer,” writes Vasil. They can also contain ammonia, which can irritate your eyes, skin, and throat. Replace your spray bottle with a half-cup of vinegar and a few drops of olive oil, wipe it on your furniture, and those wooden surfaces will be clean and shiny.


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