cleaners and polishers - non-metal (alternatives)
ALL PURPOSE CLEANERS
Baking Soda. Dissolve 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water for a general cleaner. Or use baking soda on a damp sponge. Baking soda will clean and deodorize all kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
Homemade Soft Scrub. _ cup baking soda and enough vegetable-oil-based liquid soap to make a frosting-like consistency. Mix in a bowl and scoop mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface and rinse thoroughly.
Pumice stick. A pumice stick, available at many hardware stores, contains no harsh detergents or other chemicals. It will effectively clean oven racks and barbecue grills, remove rust from tools and handle many other cleaning jobs.
Vinegar and Salt. Mix together for a good surface cleaner.
Club soda. Use club soda to clean and polish at the same time.
Rubbing alcohol. Instead of using commercial waxes, shine with rubbing alcohol.
Whitening paste. To get rid of yellowing on appliances mix together: 1/2 cup bleach, 1/4 cup baking soda and four cups of warm water. Apply with a sponge and let set for 10 minutes. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
AUTOMATIC COFFEE MAKER CLEANERS
Vinegar. Remove mineral deposits in your coffee maker by pouring in one cup of vinegar and running it through as you would water; then run two pots of water through to remove the vinegar taste. To keep the vinegar smell minimized you might want to do this under the stove exhaust fan.
BLEACH (CHLORINE) ALTERNATIVES
Household bleaches which claim to disinfect are classified as pesticides under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Liquid household bleaches contain approximately 5% sodium hypochlorite solution. Chlorine bleach liquid and vapors are irritating to the skin, eyes, nose and throat. When mixed with substances such as ammonia, toilet bowl cleaners, drain cleaners or vinegar, bleach forms toxic gases which can cause coughing, loss of voice, a feeling of burning or suffocation, and even death. DO NOT MIX BLEACH WITH OTHER CLEANERS. Consider using these alternatives whenever possible:
Baking soda. Reduce the amount of liquid bleach used in your wash and add baking soda as a booster.
Borax. For household disinfecting, borax is an option.
Hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide, in a standard 3 percent solution, is an oxidizing bleach and is safe enough to also use as a disinfectant.
Lemon juice. Use lemon juice in the wash cycle to “freshen” clothing.
Oxygen (dry) bleach. For washing clothes, use oxygen (dry) bleach.
BROILER PAN CLEANERS
Laundry detergent. Sprinkle the burned food areas with a dry laundry detergent, cover with a damp paper towel, let set a few minutes and then rinse. You can also use dishwasher soap or baking soda.
Vinegar. To remove no-slip decals from the bathtub, saturate a cloth or sponge and squeeze hot vinegar over decals. Vinegar also removes stick-on hooks from painted walls. Saturate a cloth or sponge with vinegar and squeeze the liquid behind the hook so that the vinegar comes in contact with the adhesive. In addition, vinegar can be used to remove price tags and other decals from glass, wood, and china. Paint the label or decal with several coats of white vinegar. Give the vinegar time to soak in and after several minutes the decal can be rubbed off.
Citrus/vegetable oil. Use citrus or vegetable oil based products with “Non-toxic”, “Biodegradable” and “Non-flammable” on the label. These are effective, and much safer.
Baking soda. Scrub with baking soda to remove coffee and other stains on dishware.
Borax. Borax is a good grease cutter and
PREVENTIVE. Keep things dry. Mold, mildew, and bacteria cannot live without moisture
Borax. Borax has long been recognized for its disinfectant and deodorizing properties. Mix 1/2 cup Borax into 1 gallon hot water and clean with this solution.
Isopropyl Alcohol. This is an excellent disinfectant. Sponge and allow to dry. (It must dry to do its job.) Use in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves.
Soap. Regular cleaning with plain soap and hot water will kill some bacteria.
FLOORING CLEANERS - ALL PURPOSE CLEANERS
Vinegar. A few drops in the cleaning water will help remove grease particles. Dull, greasy film on no-wax linoleum can be washed away with 1/2 cup white vinegar mixed into 1/2 gallon water. Your floor will look sparkling clean.
FLOORING CLEANERS - BLACK HEEL MARKS
Baking Soda. Rub the heel mark with a paste of baking soda and water. Don’t use too much water or the baking soda will lose its abrasive quality. Use a clean eraser and rub the marks away
FLOORING CLEANERS - BRICK AND STONE
Vinegar. Mix 1 cup white vinegar into 1 gallon water. Scrub the floor with a brush and the vinegar solution. Rinse with clean water.
FLOORING CLEANERS - CARPETS/RUGS
General tips on stain removal: Clean up spills as fast as you can. Blot or scrape up as much of the spill as possible, blotting from the outside toward the center. Test the stain remover on an area under the sofa and wait 15 minutes to see if it damages the carpet color. After you clean the carpet, blot it dry and weight down a small cushion of paper towels with a heavy object to soak up all the moisture. Don’t panic! If you plan to shampoo your carpet, first try a pre-cleaning treatment. Sweep the carpet; this will make the nap stand up and loosen the imbedded dirt and then vacuum. With this work alone, the rug should show a noticeable improvement, so much in fact that you may decide to delay the shampooing.
FLOORING CLEANERS - CERAMIC TILES
Vinegar. Mix 1/4 cup white vinegar (more if very dirty) into 1 gallon water. This solution removes most dirt without scrubbing and without leaving a film. Washing ceramic tiles with soap does not work very well in hard water areas as it leaves an insoluble film.
FLOORING CLEANERS - CONCRETE (GREASE)
Dry Cement. Sprinkle dry cement over grease. This will absorb the grease, then sweep it up.
FLOORING CLEANERS - CRAYON MARKS
Toothpaste. Crayon marks on the floor may be removed by rubbing them with a damp cloth containing non-gel (old-fashioned white) toothpaste. Toothpaste will not work well on wallpaper or porous surfaces. You can also make a paste of baking soda and olive oil to scrub off those crayon marks.
FLOORING CLEANERS - GREASE
Grease: 1 tablespoon vegetable-oil based liquid soap, 1/2 cup washing soda, 1/4 cup vinegar, and 2 gallons hot water.
FLOORING CLEANERS - LINOLEUM
Mild Detergent, Baby Oil, and Sour Milk or Skim Milk. Use a damp mop mild detergent and water for day to day cleaning. Keep water away from seams and edges to prevent loosening of the tiles. To preserve the linoleum floor you may wish to add a capful of baby oil to the mop water. Adding sour milk or skim milk to the rinse water will shine the floor without polishing.
FLOORING CLEANERS - LINOLEUM (WAX REMOVAL)
Isopropyl Alcohol. To remove old wax by mopping, mix a solution of 3 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol. Scrub this in well and rinse thoroughly. Be sure the area is well-ventilated and wear gloves.
FLOORING CLEANERS - RUBBER TILES
Mild detergent. Avoid oils, solvents, and strong alkalis as they will harm the surface. Wash with clear water, a mild detergent, and a clean mop.
FLOORING CLEANERS - TAR
Butter or Margarine. Scrape up excess tar with the side of a dull knife, and then rub the spot vigorously with butter or margarine. Rub the spot again with your fingernail or anything else that won’t scratch the floor. Finally, wipe up the tar with a dry cloth.
FLOORING CLEANERS - VINYL TILES (WAX REMOVAL)
Club Soda. Remove wax buildup by pouring a small amount of club soda on a section. Scrub this in well. Let it soak in a few minutes and wipe clean.
FLOORING CLEANERS - WOOD
Ice Cube or Cold Water. If you spill grease on a wood floor,
immediately place an ice cube or very cold water on the spot. The grease will harden and can then be scraped off with a knife. Then iron a piece of cloth over the grease spot.
Vegetable Oil and Vinegar. Mix a 1 to 1 ratio of oil and vinegar into a solution and apply a thin coat. Rub in well.
FLOORING CLEANERS - WOOD (PAINTED)
Washing Soda. Mix 1 teaspoon washing soda into 1 gallon hot water and wash the floor with a mop, sponge, or soft bristled brush. This solution can also be used to remove mildew. Be very careful with washing soda as it can be abrasive.
FLOORING CLEANERS - WAX REMOVAL
General Purpose Washing soda and water – Cover the floor with a thick coat of washing soda and water. Let dry completely before scrubbing it off. If you really need to get the wax up, be tenacious and do not skimp on the washing soda. Washing soda needs to be rinsed very well when you use this concentrated amount, but adding vinegar to the rinse water should help pick up the residue.
Club Soda. Polishing your floor with Club Soda will make it sparkle.
Murphy’s Oil Soap. Use according to package directions.
Sour Milk or Skim Milk. Rather than polishing, mix sour milk or skim milk in the rinse water. The floor will shine.
The idea behind furniture polish for wood products is to absorb oil into the wood. Many oils commonly found in our kitchens work very well. (see Wood Polishers)
PREVENTION. Tear off a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil large enough to completely cover your grill. Press foil shiny side down on the grill and fold the sides under, covering as tightly as possible. When the coals have nearly reached their hottest point, place the grill over the coals for 10 minutes. Remove the foil, and any charred grease or food should drop off the grill.
Vegetable oil. Before using the grill, spray it heavily with vegetable oil. Then wipe clean when grill has cooled.
LIME AND MINERAL DEPOSIT REMOVERS
Vinegar. To remove deposits which may be clogging your metal showerhead, combine 1/2 cup white vinegar and one quart water. Then completely submerge the showerhead and boil
15 minutes. If you have a plastic showerhead, combine 1 pint white vinegar and 1 pint hot water. Then completely submerge the showerhead and soak for about one hour.
Vinegar and Paper Towels. Hard lime deposits around faucets can be softened for easy removal by covering the deposits with vinegar-soaked paper towels. Leave the paper towels on for about one hour before cleaning. Leaves chrome clean and shiny.
PREVENTION. Put a sheet of aluminum foil on the floor of the oven, underneath but not touching the heating element. Although this may slightly affect the browning of the food, the foil can be easily disposed of when soiled. Clean up the spill as soon as it occurs.
Arm & Hammer Oven Cleaner. Consumers Union chemists declared this product nontoxic. Use according to label directions.
Baking Soda and Very Fine Steel Wool. Sprinkle water followed by a layer of baking soda. Rub gently with a very fine steel wool pad for tough spots. Wipe off scum with dry paper towels or a sponge. Rinse well and wipe dry. Or make a paste of equal amounts of baking soda, salt and water. Let stand for five minutes, then wipe clean with a damp cloth. Use a brush on heavy spills. DO NOT allow baking soda to touch heating elements or wiring.
Salt. While the oven is still warm, sprinkle salt on the spill. If the spill is completely dry, wet the spill lightly before sprinkling on salt. When the oven cools down, scrape away the spill and wash the area clean.
Vinegar. Retard grease buildup in your oven by dampening your cleaning rag in vinegar and water before wiping out your oven.
Cream of Tartar. To clean porcelain surfaces, rub with cream of tartar sprinkled on a damp cloth. Works well on light stains.
Scouring Powder. The amount of chlorine in scouring powder is not significant enough to cause harm, but if you want to totally avoid chlorine or are sensitive to it follow these recipes.
Baking Soda or Dry Table Salt. Both of these substances are mild abrasives and can be used as an alternative to chlorine scouring powders. Simply put either baking soda or salt on a sponge or the surface you wish to clean and then scour and rinse.
Scouring Powder (Non-Chlorine). Bon-Ami Cleaning Powder and Bon-Ami Polishing Cleaner are two examples of commercially available products.
Art-Gum Eraser and Sandpaper or Emery Board. Dirt marks on suede can be rubbed out with an art-gum eraser. Then buff lightly with sandpaper or an emery board.
Cold Pressed Nut Oil, Olive Oil, Walnut Oil, or Beeswax. Apply oil to leather product and buff with a chamois cloth to a shine.
Coffee. Give black suede a face-lift by applying a sponge slightly moistened with cool, black coffee. Rub in the coffee gently.
Lemon Juice. Lemon juice is good polish for black or tan leather shoes. Follow by buffing with a soft cloth.
Petroleum Jelly. A dab of petroleum jelly rubbed into patent leather gives a glistening shine and prevents cracking in the winter.
Vinegar. Remove water stains on leather by rubbing with a cloth dipped in a vinegar and water solution. To shine patent leather, moisten a soft cloth with white vinegar and wipe clean all patent leather articles. The color of the leather may be slightly changed.
Vinegar and Linseed Oil. To clean leather, rub equal parts of vinegar and linseed oil into the leather and then polish with a soft cloth.
SPOT/STAIN REMOVER - ALL PURPOSE REMOVER
Borax. Dissolve 1/4 cup of borax in 3 cups of cold water. Sponge it on and let it dry, or soak fabric in the solution prior to washing it in soap and cold water. Use according to label directions. Borax can be toxic if ingested.
Cornstarch paste. Rub the stain with a cornstarch paste and brush off when dry.
Detergent, baking soda, soap paste. Apply a paste of detergent, soap, or baking soda and water to the stain; allow the paste to penetrate a few minutes before rubbing clean and rinsing.
Hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol. Hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol. Removes blood, chocolate and other stains. Safe for all fibers, but dyed fabrics should be tested for color-fastness.
Rubbing alcohol and water. The basic ingredient for many commercial spot removers is 2 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol.
“Wet spotter”. “Wet spotter”, used to remove many kinds of stains: 1 part glycerin, 1 part liquid dishwashing detergent, 8 parts water. Store in a plastic squeeze bottle and shake well before using.
White vinegar. White vinegar: safe for all fibers, but changes the colors of some dyes. Good on cola, perspiration, pet stains and other non-oily stains, and for de-yellowing silk or wool. Also useful in removing grease stains from suede.
SPOT/STAIN REMOVER - BLOOD
Cold water or Club Soda. Sponge stain immediately with cold water or club soda and dry with a towel. Repeat as necessary.
SPOT/STAIN REMOVER - CHEWING GUM
Ice. Rub with ice. Gum will flake off.
Cream of tarter paste. Make a paste of cream of tarter and rub on the stain. Let the paste dry, and then brush off. Repeat as often as necessary.
SPOT/STAIN REMOVER - INK
Cream of Tartar and Lemon Juice. Place cream of tartar on the ink stain and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on top. Rub into the stain for a minute, brush off the powder with a clean brush and sponge immediately with warm water, being careful not to saturate the carpet backing. Repeat
SPOT/STAIN REMOVER - NON-OILY STAINS
Vinegar and Liquid Soap. Mix together 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon liquid detergent, and 1 pint lukewarm water. Apply this mixture to the non-oily stain with a soft brush or towel. Rub gently. Rinse with a towel dampened in clean water. Blot dry. Repeat this process until the stain is removed. Dry the carpet quickly using a fan or blow dryer. There is a chance that vinegar may bleach some dark, sensitive colors, so try it on an inconspicuous area first.
SPOT/STAIN REMOVER - PET STAINS/ODORS
Vinegar and Liquid Soap. Vinegar will kill the odor of urine and prevent staining if you can get to the spot right away. First absorb as much moisture as you can with dry paper towels. Next rinse the area with warm water and apply vinegar and soap solution into the stain using a clean cloth or paper towel and leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with a towel dampened in clean water and blot dry. There is a chance that vinegar may bleach some dark, sensitive colors, so try it on an inconspicuous area first.
SPOT/STAIN REMOVER - RED WINE
Salt. Pour a thick layer of salt on red wine spills: to absorb the wine, get as much of the salt into contact with the wine as you can; then sponge up the salt with either club soda or water.
STAIN REMOVER - WHITE WINE
Dilute the spot with white wine then flush with cool water and apply salt.
STAIN REMOVER - RUST
Lemon juice and salt. Saturate with lemon juice and rub with salt. If possible dry in direct sunlight, then wash.
Peeled Potatoes and Baking Soda or Salt. To remove rust from tinware, rub with a peeled potato dipped in a mild abrasive such as baking soda or salt.
Aluminum Foil. Briskly scrub rust spots on car bumpers with a piece of crumpled aluminum foil, shiny side up. Also works well on the chrome shafts of golf clubs.
SPOT/STAIN REMOVER - SOOT
Salt. Sprinkle the area generously with salt. Allow the salt to settle for at least 15 minutes before vacuuming.
SPOT/STAIN REMOVER - TAR
Linseed oil. Soak tar spots with raw linseed oil. Allow to stand until soft. Then wipe with a soft cloth that has been dampened with the linseed oil.
TOILET BOWL CLEANERS
IF YOU DO USE BLEACH TO CLEAN YOUR TOILET BOWL, NEVER MIX BLEACH WITH VINEGAR, TOILET BOWL CLEANER, OR AMMONIA. The combination of bleach with any of these substances produces a toxic gas which can be hazardous.
Baking Soda and Vinegar. Sprinkle baking soda into the bowl, then drizzle with vinegar and scour with a toilet brush. This combination both cleans and deodorizes.
Borax and Lemon Juice. For removing a stubborn stain, like bowl ring, mix enough borax and lemon juice into a paste which can cover the entire ring. Flush toilet to wet the sides, and then rub on paste. Let sit for 2 hours and scrub thoroughly. For hard to remove stains, scrub with a piece of fine drywall sandpaper (looks like window screen – available at hardware stores and home centers). For less stubborn toilet bowl rings, sprinkle baking soda around the rim and scrub with a toilet brush.
TUB AND TILE CLEANERS
Baking Soda. Sprinkle baking soda like you would scouring
powder. Rub with a damp sponge. Rinse thoroughly. To clean grout, put 3 cups baking soda into a medium-size bowl and add 1 cup warm water. Mix into a smooth paste and scrub into grout with a sponge or toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and dispose of leftover paste when finished.
Vinegar. Vinegar removes most dirt without scrubbing and doesn’t leave a film. Use 1/4 cup (or more) vinegar to 1 gallon water.
Vinegar and Baking Soda. To remove film buildup on bathtubs, apply vinegar full-strength to a sponge and wipe with vinegar first. Next, use baking soda as you would scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
WATCH CRYSTAL CLEANERS
Toothpaste. Non-gel (old-fashioned white) toothpaste can be used as a watch crystal scratch-remover and polish.
WINDOW AND GLASS CLEANERS
A few tips on window washing: (1) never wash windows while the sun is shining on them because they dry too quickly and leave streaks; (2) when polishing windows use up and down strokes on one side of the window and side to side strokes
on the other to tell which side requires extra polishing; and (3) to polish windows or mirrors to a sparkling shine, try a natural linen towel or other soft cloth, a clean, damp chamois cloth, a squeegee, or crumpled newspaper. One word of warning about newspaper: while newspaper does leave glass lint-free with a dirt-resistant film, persons with sensitivities to fumes from newsprint may wish to avoid the use of newspaper as a cleaning tool.
Baking Soda. To clean cut glass, sprinkle baking soda on a damp rag and clean glass. Rinse with clean water and polish with a soft cloth.
Borax or Washing Soda. Two tablespoons of borax or washing soda mixed into 3 cups water makes a good window cleaner. Apply to surface and wipe dry.
Cornstarch and Vinegar. Mix 3 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/2 cup white vinegar into 1 gallon warm water. Apply to surface and wipe dry.
Lemon Juice. Mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice in 1 quart water. Apply to surface and wipe dry.
Vinegar. Wash windows or glass with a mixture
of equal parts of white vinegar and warm water. Dry with a soft cloth. Leaves windows and glass streakless. To remove those stubborn hard water sprinkler spots and streaks, use undiluted vinegar.
WINDOW AND GLASS - SCRATCHES, STAINS, AND DISCOLORATIONS
Dry Mustard and Vinegar. Blend 3 parts dry mustard and 1 part white vinegar into a paste. Apply paste to discolored or stained portion of window or mirror and rub until the stain disappears. Rinse well with clean water. AVOID EYE CONTACT; DRY MUSTARD CAN BE DAMAGING TO THE CORNEA.
Toothpaste. Rub a little non-gel (old-fashioned white) toothpaste into the scratch. Polish with a soft cloth.
WOOD CLEANERS - ALL PURPOSE WOOD CLEANERS
Mild Soap. Dampen cloth with a solution of water and mild soap, such as Ivory or Murphy’s Oil Soap. Wring the cloth almost dry and wipe the furniture section by section, drying with a clean dry cloth as you go so that no section stays wet.
WOOD CLEANERS - GREASE SPOTS
Salt. Immediately pour salt on the grease spot to absorb grease and prevent staining.
WOOD CLEANERS - GREASE AND DIRT
Mix 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil-based liquid soap, and 1/4 cup vinegar and warm water in a bowl. Saturate a sponge and scrub the wood, rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly. Caution: some wood finishes are not waterproof.
WOOD CLEANERS - SCRATCHES
Lemon Juice and Vegetable Oil. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and vegetable oil. Rub into scratches with a soft cloth until scratches disappear.
WOOD CLEANERS - WATER SPOTS
Toothpaste. To remove water marks, rub gently with non-gel (old-fashioned white) toothpaste on a damp cloth
WOOD POLISHERS - ALL PURPOSE WOOD POLISHERS
Olive Oil and Vinegar. Mix 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Apply and polish with a clean soft cloth.
Vegetable Oil or Olive Oil and Lemon Juice. Mix 2 parts oil and 1 part lemon juice. Apply and polish with a soft cloth. This leaves furniture looking and smelling good.
WOOD POLISHERS - MAHOGANY
Vinegar. Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water. Wipe onto wood and then polish with a chamois cloth.
WOOD POLISHERS - OAK
Beer and Sugar and Beeswax. Boil one quart beer with 1 teaspoon sugar and 2 tablespoons beeswax. Cool, wipe onto wood, and allow to dry. Polish with a chamois cloth when dry.
WOOD POLISHERS - REFINISHING OLD WOOD
Murphy’s Oil Soap. Before you set to work on an old piece of furniture with chemical finish removers, try an old stand-by, Murphy’s Vegetable Oil Soap. This simple, nontoxic solvent may be all the help an antique needs. Follow label directions.
WOOD POLISHERS - UNFINISHED WOOD
Mineral Oil. Mineral oil is flammable. Apply sparingly with a soft cloth. For lemon oil polish, dissolve 1 teaspoon lemon oil into 1 pint mineral oil. CAUTION: Mineral spirits should never be substituted for mineral oil as it can be dangerous when inhaled or absorbed through the skin.