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April 18, 2014  |  Login
Basic Cleaning Formulas You Can Make
By Elizabeth B. Goldsmith PhD, Betsy Sheldon
You've likely bought a spectrum of all-purpose cleaning products that claim to clean everything from tub and tile work to Formica counters and appliance surfaces. You can make general-use formulas with similar powers with a minimum of effort and mess. Several of the recipes in this section include baking soda and white distilled vinegar.

In the cleaners to come, those with vinegar and water can last a long time, but those with lemon or essential oils have a shorter shelf life. If your recipes contain these last two ingredients, make only a batch and use it up in a day or two.

Try sampling one new recipe at a time, testing it, and seeing how you like it. Mixing up cleaning formulas is a lot like experimenting in the kitchen: Sometimes it takes some tweaks and finessing to get a recipe just where you like it.

Check garden-supply centers, hardware stores, and grocery stores for plastic spray bottles you can use for your recipes. Quart-size bottles are most convenient for big jobs like windows, counters, and showers. Label them so that you know what's in the bottle.

Do-it-all Cleaners

These all-purpose cleaners should do everything you need. More abrasive cleaners are available commercially, some are quite gritty. Generally, the larger and harder the particles, the more abrasive.

Here are three easy options:

* Mix 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart water: This baking soda-based formula gently scours away dirt, food spills, stains, and buildup on most surfaces. Its deodorizing properties make it an ideal solution for cleaning refrigerators, microwaves, diaper pails, tiles, coffee pots - even baby and children's toys.

* Mix ¼ to ½ cup white vinegar and 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Vinegar is a great degreaser and works especially well to remove soap scum in tubs and showers. Spray this mixture on the surface, wait 30 seconds, and wipe away. Rinse off with hot water if you're cleaning soap scum in tubs, showers, or sinks.

* In a quart spray bottle, mix 2 tablespoons peppermint liquid castile soap, ¼ cup baking soda, and ¼ cup white vinegar. Add water to fill the bottle. This cleaner has a minty scent and works on sinks, showers, tile floors - and as a great insect-deterrent when sprayed on outdoor plants and flowers.

A leading brand name in scented castile soap, Dr. Bronner's comes in several size containers, often available at health-food stores. Some sell it in bulk - bring your refillable jug with you.

Tile and Vinyl Floor Cleaner

Both vinyl and tile are tough floorings that clean up beautifully with this simple formula. In a bucket, mix 1/8 cup liquid castile soap, 1/8 cup white vinegar, and 1 gallon water and then damp mop.

If you don't have castile soap, add another 1/8 cup vinegar.

Linoleum Floor Cleaner

Made from natural products, including linseed oil and cork flour, linoleum is making a comeback because of its green qualities. Care can be more of a challenge, however, as excess water and harsh chemicals can cause damage. more



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