These mix‐it‐yourself cleaners use environmentally friendly ingredients like baking soda and vinegar and are affordable! So if you’ve run out of your favorite cleaning solution, don’t run to the store, try one of our standbys instead. If you’re not sure it’s right for the surface, test it on a small area first.
2 cups water
1/2 cup white or cider vinegar
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (70 percent concentration)
1 to 2 drops of orange essential oil, which gives the solution a lovely smell (optional)
Great for: Windows and mirrors
How to use: Combine ingredients and store in a spray bottle. Spray some solution on a paper towel or soft cloth first, then on the glass.
To get smudge‐free glass, rub vertically on one side and horizontally on the other. Hint: Don’t clean windows on a hot, sunny day, because the solution will dry too quickly and leave lots of streaks.
Half a lemon
1/2 cup borax (a laundry booster; find it in the detergent aisle)
Great for: Rust stains on porcelain or enamel sinks and tub.
How to use: Dip lemon into borax and scrub surface; rinse. (Not safe for marble or granite).
1/2 cup sudsy ammonia mixed with enough water to fill a one‐gallon container. (Sudsy ammonia, which has detergent in it, helps to remove tough grime).
Great for: Oven hoods and grill.
How to use: Dip sponge or mop in solution and wipe over surface, then rinse area with clear water.
All‐Purpose Cleaner and Deodorizer
4 tablespoons baking soda
1 quart warm water
Great for: Kitchen counters, appliances, and inside the refrigerator.
How to use: Pour solution on a clean sponge and wipe.
One part white non‐gel toothpaste to one part baking soda
How to use: Dampen a cloth with water, add toothpaste mixture, and rub with the grain to buff over the ring. Then take a dry cloth and wipe off. Use another soft cloth for a final shine. Polish as you normally would. Not safe for unfinished wood, lacquer, or antiques.
Dishwasher Stain Remover
1/4 cup powdered lemon or orange drink
How to use: To remove rust from the inside walls, pour the powder (which contains citric acid or citric acid crystals) into the detergent cup and then run a regular cycle. Repeat as necessary.
Mild dishwashing liquid (non‐citrus‐scented)
How to use: Mix a drop or two of detergent with 2 cups warm water. Sponge over marble and rinse completely to remove any soap residue.
Buff with a soft cloth; do not let the marble air‐dry. Caution: Never use vinegar, lemon, or any other acidic cleaner on marble or granite surfaces; it will eat into the stone.
White vinegar or lemon juice
How to use: For non‐lacquered brass, dampen a sponge with vinegar or lemon juice, then sprinkle on salt. Lightly rub over surface. Rinse thoroughly with water, then dry well immediately with a clean soft cloth.
Never combine ammonia‐based cleaners with chlorine bleach or products containing bleach, such as powdered dishwasher detergent.
The fumes they’ll create are extremely dangerous. Before doing any mixing, read the product labels first.