Cleaning up after oneself is a necessary part of life, but walking down the household cleaning essentials aisle in a department or grocery store can be daunting. Not only are there hundreds of products with seemingly different uses, but it’s also becoming harder to tell just how safe these products are. But not to worry, aside from breaking the bank on products you’re not sure will work, there are safe, budget-friendly options that may help you to avoid respiratory illnesses that could be caused by the use of synthetic household cleaning product. Here are seven alternatives we recommend.
If you’re not already using vinegar for everything, you’re missing out. At about $3 a gallon, it could be the cheapest product in your cleaning arsenal. Not only can you use vinegar for cleaning glass and metal surfaces with a streak-free shine, you can also use it on clogged faucets and shower heads by soaking them in a plastic bag with a rubber band overnight.
White vinegar is also a useful substitute for fabric softener in your rinse cycle. The acid in vinegar is strong enough to break down any leftover detergent or deodorant, yet gentle enough to leave your fabrics soft and fresh. Mix vinegar with water and a small amount of dish soap for an all-purpose cleaning alternative with great results.
Another safe cleaning powerhouse is baking soda. It’s perfect for scrubbing, cutting oil and grease, and keeping things fresh and bright. One of the best uses for baking soda is for freshening up large items that are difficult to clean. These are things like your couch, mattress, rugs, and carpet. To get rid of the mustiness that comes with time, sprinkle large areas with baking soda, let sit for 15 minutes, and then vacuum the area to get rid of the excess.
Dryer sheets are great for keeping fabrics fresh in your laundry, closet, or suitcase, but they are a multi-use item. Two great uses for them are dusting and polishing.
Dryer sheets efficiently pick up dust and hair off staticky surfaces like your computer monitor. When cleaning your blinds or ceiling fan blades, wrap dryer sheets around both sides of a pair of tongs, and gently slide them across to pick up dirt. This method can help avoid stirring up dust in comparison to a traditional duster. Dryer sheets’ slightly rough surface also makes them great for polishing water spots off of chrome faucets.
Depending on the vodka you buy, this might not be the cheapest alternative, but if you’re not drinking it and want to avoid using potentially harmful, traditional cleaning products, you can use vodka to clean and freshen.
Vodka can be used in the shower to get rid of mildew. Just spray it on and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to cut down on the usual back-breaking scrubbing required. You can also use Vodka as a fabric refresher. Mix alcohol with your favorite essential oil and spray over fabrics or smelly sneakers to quickly get rid of odors.
Rubbing alcohol is also an eco-friendly quick drying disinfecting alternative to those made with harsher chemicals. Spray on door handles, keyboards, or anything else that gets frequently touched to get rid of germs. Rubbing alcohol is also the best way to get permanent marker off most hard surfaces. Apply to cotton and rub the same way you would with nail polish remover.
Paper towel, like garbage bags and other household items, are disposable but not exactly cheap. If you find yourself going through paper towel too quickly and easily, try replacing with newspaper when cleaning.
Newspaper is best used on glass surfaces. Spray the glass or newspaper with vinegar or rubbing alcohol and prepare to be amazed. Most modern papers are printed using soy-based ink, making them good for streak-free wiping.
TIP: To be sure your newspaper is right for cleaning, hold a piece between your fingers for about a minute and if there’s no ink on your fingers, you’re good to go.
Your dishwasher is a powerful cleaning tool and can be used for more than just dishes. Avoid hand cleaning or wiping down all of your child’s toys by throwing them in the dishwasher to get rid of germs and stickiness. Stainless steel items like nail clippers with grime in hard to reach places, or tools that get greasy all over can also become spotless when cleaned using a dishwasher. If you’re wondering what else you can put in your dishwasher, take a look this list.
The next time you head out to the store be sure to stock up on the items above to make cleaning safe and easy. Still looking for ways to save? Check out these spring cleaning hacks.