Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cleaning Your House the Old Fashioned Way; Eco and Wallet Friendly Ways

Back in the day, my parents and grandparents and their parents and grandparents cleaned with normal household products. Some of us learned how to do some of it and as time has passed, and big companies have come out with all these brand new sprays, cleaners and soaps, we put the old ways aside. I was one of those people for a long time and while I cannot say that every cleaner in my home now is made of household products, I will say that a tightening the budget, can make you re-evaluate what you're willing to spend those last few dollars on! Is it worth almost $20 for something that will do 60 loads? Or can I spend $20 and do 2x – 3x that amount, (depending upon how much I use)? Or in those situations when you've been demoted or business is dropping. It means smaller checks and some households have had to choose between bills or food on the table. Worrying about how you're going to clean the bathtub or do laundry is last on their list!

So, I'm going to share my 3 favorite household things that I grew up using. I'll share what little I can remember. If you've got a great tip or suggestion, please feel free to leave it either at the end of this blog post or on my FB page, so we all can benefit from your knowledge!

The benefits of baking soda:
  1. The one we all know, it helps keep away gross odors in our refrigerators, trash cans, etc.
  2. Great for putting out grease fires. This was drilled into my head as a small child.
  3. A great cleanser for just about anything.
  4. My grandmother used to clean her silver with it. I have a house full of boys.....all pretty things like silver don't exist here though!
  5. It is a great stain fighting agent or in the case of pans, is a great fighter of all things dried on.
  6. It's a relatively cheap household product. That not only is in almost every house imaginable but, easily obtainable.

The benefits of vinegar:
  1. It's shelf life is indefinite. Occasionally you may see a not so appetizing substance on the top of vinegar that's been on your shelf for a while. This does NOT mean that you need to discard. It is a perfectly normal process and does nothing for the condition of your vinegar. You can strain it using something like a coffee filter and keep on using your vinegar!
  2. It never needs refrigeration. So, if you've got a power outage. It's always going to be good for cooking or cleaning!
  3. It's an organic and natural compound to have in your home. Safe for allergies and the younger kiddos as well. Even if it gets into their eyes, yes it will sting, but there is no chance of permanent damage. It's so safe to use and non-toxic that my mother used it to clean her coffee pots every month or so even!
  4. It's a streak free cleaner for things like glass and mirrors.
  5. There's no need to use gloves as it's not a harsh cleaner
  6. Like the above mentioned baking soda, it's relatively cheap compared to many, many cleaners.
  7. My favorite bonus of vinegar? It's an antimicrobial agent! That's right, if you use 5% acetic acid (vinegar) in your home, it wages war with a decent range of bacteria!

The benefits of lemon juice:
  1. The smell alone is worth it's weight in the pennies it takes to buy some at the local market or better yet, to make yourself! As a bonus, if you make it yourself, we use to throw the rinds down the garbage disposal to make the drain all pretty smelling.
  2. Because like vinegar, lemons are acidic, they provide some antibacterial and/or antiseptic properties!
  3. It's insanely cheap and even cheap to make yourself at home.
  4. When using vinegar to clean, adding some lemon juice to it, can help lessen the scent of the vinegar.
  5. As my FB tip said earlier, it is a natural bleaching agent. So, it's great for that white load and also great for those stains on the counter that you can't seem to get rid of.

I'm going to break it down for you all, area by area.
  1. Countertop: For counter stains, you can use lemon juice and allow it to sit for ONLY a few minutes (Any longer, at it will actually bleach your countertop so keep that in mind!).Then scrub with the baking soda.
  2. Cutting boards: Rub a lemon slice on top of your chopping block to disinfect. If you've got a tough stain, you can allow it to sit for about 10 min. or less, then wipe it clean. I've also heard that you can use vinegar to clean your wooden cutting boards as well. You're suppose to just wipe them down with it.
  3. Coffee makers, coffee and tea stains: Let 1/4cp of vinegar, and at least 2cps of water (you can use more though, if you prefer) run through your coffee maker, as you would normally make coffee and your urn and coffee pot will be clean as a whistle. You can then use this hot rinse from your coffee maker to clean out any pans you may brew tea in as well. If you just have stains in your coffee or tea cups, you can use a bit of vinegar to your sponge or cloth and wipe the cup out.
  4. Micorwave: To clean your microwave, use ½ cp of vinegar and 1 cp of water, in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave until it's at a boil. It will kill the odors and loosen any gross baked on foods left in there. Or, if you don't like the smell, a better alternative is to heat a bowl of lemon slices in a bowl of water between 30 secs. - 1 min. or so. It will make the stuck on food easier to remove and still get rid of those old smells, like microwaved popcorn!
    5.  A tsp or so of lemon juice added to your dishwashing soap, can help cut through the grease. 

    1. Stains: Use the ratio of 3 to 1, baking soda to water. Apply it to the stain and let it sit. Then wipe it clean.
    2. Toilet: To remove gross stains, spray with a solution of vinegar and water. Or, once a month, add 1cp of undiluted white vinegar to your toilet and let sit overnight.
    3. Showerheads: Soak in vinegar overnight to remove corrosion or build up.
    4. Mirrors: Vinegar with newspaper was always what the women in my family used.
    5. Shower tile: To get rid of mildew stains, use lemon juice and vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the area and let it sit for around 10 mins. Then scrub with a stiff brush.
    6. Porcelain tub or countertops: Use baking soda, dusted over the surface and scrub with a moist cloth or sponge. If you're stain is a tougher one, use a bit of kosher salt to help get rid of it.

    General Household:
    1. Windows: Use at least 2 tbs of vinegar to a gallon of water; You can go as high as half and half here, so there is no “wrong way” to do this! Put in spray bottle. Spray on your windows and use newspaper to wipe.
    2. Carpet odor: Sprinkle baking soda and let sit for about 15 mins. or so and vacuum.

    1. To stop colors from running, you soak it in vinegar before you wash.
    2. Adding half a cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle, cuts down on lint fro your clothes.
    3. Vinegar is good for stain removal, like coffee, cola, wine, ketchup, chocolate and a few others. Just rub the stain with vinegar and throw it in the wash.
    4. To clean your washing machine, run it empty with one cup of vinegar. For the boys' father, I had to do this once a week because let me tell you, a mechanic really gets dirty!
    5. Speaking of grease, to get rid of grease stains, wash with baking soda, or pretreat grease stain with baking soda paste.
    6. You can use up to 1/2cp of lemon juice to your whites to get them whiter.
    7. Every once in a while, if not daily, add a bit of baking soda to your hamper to rid it of odors.

    Outdoor uses:
    1. Ants: To get rid of them, you're suppose to poor lemon juice around the areas that they frequent. Otherwise, vinegar in a spray bottle along doorways, windowsills and countertops is suppose to work just as well. Though I saw many of my family members use one of the two ways, I've never had to put it to practical use.
    2. Grease spills: Use baking soda to help get that up.
    3. Those blow up pools or little children's pools, from time to time need to be cleaned. Use baking soda and warm water.
    4. Lawn furniture: ¼ cp or so of baking soda and 1qt. of water will clean them right up, all shiny and new.   

    These are just a bit of what I can remember. Proof that you really don't need a big budget to clean your house thoroughly. Blue Collar households can be just as shiny, cleanly and smell as fresh as a house with a bigger budget. Not to mention, that you've not only saved a bunch of money but, you also can be green in your efforts! 


  1. Wow! What an information-packed post! I love these tips. Thanks for posting ;)


  2. Great tips!Three great items that certainly get overlooked in the cleaning aisle compared to all the "new" items :)

  3. Yes, they do. They're great things to have in a pinch for sure! :)