Think cleaning has to be a chemical-laden, time-consuming chore fest? Not really. There are several cleaning hacks for your home that can save time and money — all while going easy on the environment. A few household items can go along way to help you keep your space clean.
Pantry must-haves like baking soda and vinegar, as well as old socks and toothbrushes, can go a long way to keeping your home clean while saving you time and money.
The following cleaning staples offer a wide range of uses, which is all the more reason to stock up.
Natural cleaning basics
Your home is probably home to these four cleaning rock stars:
- Vinegar. This is a natural disinfectant that’s super cheap, too. Stick with white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar (smells slightly better, but dilute it in water first in equal parts).
- Baking soda. Why, yes, it does make your baked goods rise to the occasion, but it’s also a fabulous deodorizer and is often useful as a gentle scrub agent.
- Hydrogen peroxide. A powerful oxidizer, it’s great for getting stains out. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says it kills bacteria, viruses, yeasts, fungi, and mold spores.
- Lemon. Lemon peel may hold antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties superpowers. If nothing else, it smells clean — plus, the oil can moisturize wood.
Getting in tune with your inner Martha Stewart means having the right tools. Start with these basics to get cleaning:
- paper towels or reusable rag
- spray bottle
- scrub brush
- glass jar with lid
- socks and/or t-shirts (old ones count!)
- rubber gloves
- microfiber cloth
Hack away at that giant cleaning to-do list at last. Check out these inventive ways to use these common household items.
1. Make glass sparkle. Add one part water with two parts vinegar in a spray bottle and get crackin’ on any glass surface in your house.
2. Disinfect countertops. You don’t have to slather bleach or something else harmful on your countertops to kill of germs. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant, so it’s perfect for areas you use to prep food. Got a tough stain? Drop some dish soap into the mixture for a boost. Just be careful not to use it on porous surfaces like granite!
3. Clean the coffee pot. Run equal parts vinegar and water mixture through your Keurig or coffee machine to get rid of buildup.
4. De-nastify faucets. If your faucets or showerhead now feature calcium deposits, combine 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt and give them a wipe down.
If the stains on your fixtures don’t get the message, you can spray them directly with vinegar. Then tie a plastic bag around the fixture and let it sit for the night. Scrub and rinse off the fixture the next morning.
5. Scrub showers, tubs, and toilets. Another gross spot in your home that you thought was only for harsh cleaners — not so! Spray some white vinegar directly on the tub and shower walls and let it do its thing for a few minutes. You may still have to scrub, but it beats toxic fumes.
Pro tip: You can also mix baking soda and vinegar into a paste for some added oomph.) For the toilet, dump in 2 to 3 cups of undiluted vinegar. Let it soak for a few hours, then scrub and flush.
6. De-stink stinky appliances. Does your microwave smell funky? Put 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water in a bowl. Heat it for a few minutes to loosen up any disgusting stuff and deodorize.
In addition to cleaning the inside of your microwave, you can spray a mixture of vinegar and water in equal parts on any appliance and wipe with a soft rag to prevent scratching.
7. Deodorize upholstery. Mix equal parts vinegar, water, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil (be extra mindful of which one if you have pets). Spray it on upholstery to eliminate odors.
8. Give stained laundry some love. Vinegar is tough on stains and odors, so it’s ideal as a laundry detergent (seriously, who knew?) Pour 1 cup of distilled white vinegar into the wash and let it run!
9. De-foul your fridge. Sprinkling baking soda around your fridge won’t scrub away grime, but leaving a cup of it in there can eliminate odors. Fortunately, baking soda can help freshen a smelly fridge by neutralizing bad odors.
10. Battle stains. Because baking soda is a soluble salt, it can eliminate dirt and stains. It may also soften the water so you need less detergent to begin with. Try it: Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your laundry detergent and get washin’.
11. Clean your kitchen and/or bath. Create a paste of baking soda and water and put it on a sponge or cloth. In the kitchen, it’s great for attacking ovens, stained marble, grease, and tarnished silver. Your bathroom tiles, toilet, and tub can benefit too — just wipe with a wet rag after slathering it on.
12. Get rid of carpet stains. Dust some baking soda directly onto the stain, then spray on a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water. Wait an hour, or until the surface dries. Use a brush to scrub the baking soda loose and vacuum the area.
13. Blast baked-on gunk. If you scorched a pot, boil a mixture of baking soda and water. Empty it out and scrub with a scouring pad.
14. Kill weeds naturally. Baking soda’s high sodium content can destroy weeds. Sprinkle some over weedy areas and watch those suckers wither away. (Just don’t do it in your flower beds, because it could kill other plants.)
15. Prep fruits and veggies for noshing. So long, expensive spray for removing pesticides — baking soda can hack it. According to a studyon apples, soaking your produce in a baking soda wash is the most effective way to remove pesticides without peeling off the skin.
16. Mop the microwave. Squeeze half a lemon into a microwavable container with 1/2 cup water. Leave the peel in the water and nuke the mixture for about 2 to 3 minutes so steam covers the microwave. Wipe with a clean rag or sponge.
17. Clean up cutting boards. Grab half a lemon and work it into your cutting board to deodorize and clean off food. If the board is stained, sprinkle baking soda on the board, too. Then, wipe off with water and dry.
18. Polish off wood. Mix up 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 cup of vinegar, and 1 cup of olive oil. Rub on wood with a soft cloth to give it some shine. Just don’t use it on hardwood floors (things can get slippery!) and don’t save what you don’t use up (it won’t keep!).
19. Keep the kettle clean. Boil a kettle of water with some lemon peel. Let the steaming water sit for an hour and rinse. Tea, anyone?
20. Detox the garbage disposal. Run water down your garbage disposal and add a few pieces of lemon (or lime) down the drain.
21. Make an easy all-purpose cleaner. Grab a jar with a lid and fill it with white vinegar and lemon peels. Let it sit for a few weeks and mix that solution with equal parts of water. Done, science experiment-turned cleaner!
22. Disinfect the dishwasher. A recent study found that 83 percent of dishwashers had fungi and 47 percent tested contained black yeast. Put 1/4 cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide in the dishwasher with or without dishes to clean things up.
23. Scrub the sink. Get your sink wet and scrub it with baking soda. Before your rinse, dump 3 percent hydrogen peroxide over the sink and let it sit before rinsing to zap any germs.
24. Disinfect your cutting board. A research initiative by the USDA says undiluted hydrogen peroxide can destroy E. coli and Salmonella bacteria on counters — just let it sit for 10 minutes. You can also soak wood cutting boards for the same amount of time in a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide.
25. Say so long to soap scum. Form a paste by adding 1 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup white vinegar along with a tablespoon or 2 of hydrogen peroxide. After the bubbles form, scrub the surface of a fiberglass tub or shower and rinse.
26. Freshen up the litter box. Your cat is adorable, but that box stinks. After washing the box, spray it with peroxide and let it sit. Then rinse and dry it.
27. Blast makeup brush gook. Rinse dirty makeup brushes in shampoo, then soak bristles in a bowl of water with a teaspoon of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide for 10 minutes. Rinse and let air dry.
28. Pour some vodka on it. Vodka can tackle hefty carpet stains (especially pet accidents and red wine). Spray or pour it on the area and dab it away. It will help take away any odor, but it also might smell faintly of booze for a bit.
29. Contain dust from ceiling fans. Place a pillowcase over individual ceiling fan blades. Wipe with both hands and move on to the next one. After you’re done, toss the pillowcase in the wash. (Or use an old sock!)
30. Ditch dryer sheets. Dryer sheets aren’t great for you anyway so if you need a swap, try putting several drops of lavender or orange essential oilon a terry cloth (like a washcloth) and add that into clean laundry in place of a dryer sheet.
31. Sanitize your sponges. Clean a sponge by dampening it and nuking it on high in the microwave for 2 minutes. (Wipe the inside of the microwave out after heating the sponge to get off any debris.)
32. Barbecue clean up. Clean your grill by scrubbing it with an onion cut in half. Gets the job done without any scary wire bristles left behind.
33. Support your local newspapers, and reuse them. Newspapers work great for wiping glass instead of paper towels. You can also put them in shoes to help soak up stinky foot odor.
34. Clean up after Fido with rubber gloves. Pet hair taking over? Don rubber gloves and give your couch a good rub-down. It’ll take off extra fur and then just rinse the fur off the gloves (outside… you don’t want all that fur clogging your sink).
35. Electronics cleaner. Clean coffee filters can double as screen dusters for computers and TVs, as they won’t leave behind fibers or scratch the surface.
36. Easy dish soap. Castile soap has about a thousand uses and is made from plant oils. It works fabulously as a dish soap and a little goes a long way. Just add 1 part castile soap to 10 parts water.
37. Clean cast iron. Olive oil and salt can be used with a stiff brush to clean away cooked on gunk in cast-iron pans. You can also use salt and a potato cut in half to scrub away.