As much as I like using natural cleaners in my home, sometimes they need a little oomph.
Vinegar mixed with water is my favorite glass and surface cleaner, but it’s not always enough. I’ve found that adding a small squirt of liquid dish soap makes it much more effective. It cleans spots off glass and smudgy hand prints.
The best method is to spray it on and then wipe it with a microfiber towel. I recently tried paper towels instead, and then I realized just how much better and more absorbent the microfiber really is.
What about sanitizing?
It’s not good to go overboard with antibacterial products, and plain soap and water take care of most germs. Vinegar may even have antibacterial properties, and some people like to use tea tree oil. Sometimes though, like during flu season, I want a stronger defense against germs. Isopropyl rubbing alcohol (although still a petroleum product) is an alternative to harsh cleaners with bleach. I apply it with a cotton ball over door knobs, light switches, and other questionable surfaces.
Jenny emailed me this question about dusting:
“…I was wondering if you’ve found a good alternative to Endust or Pledge for dusting. I’ve been using microfiber cloths or damp rags and they just seem to push the dust around. All of my other cleaners are safe and natural except for that…”
I thought this was a good question about a problem I’m sure many others have experienced. When I dust I really do just use a microfiber cloth, and sometimes I dampen it with water. Pledge and Endust both advertise that they leave a shine with no wax buildup, and that’s true. The problem is that instead of wax they contain petroleum derivatives which leave a thin, oily residue on your furniture.
Pledge has petroleum derivatives plus silicones, which are hard to remove. One of the primary ingredients in Endust is parrafin oil, which is another name for kerosene. If furniture has oily residue left from these products, then dusting with a plain damp cloth won’t be very effective.
The solution is to first remove the oily residue from the furniture. To do so, you apply mineral spirits (paint thinner) with a clean rag. I know it sounds worrisome to use mineral spirits on furniture — you wouldn’t want to harm the wood finish. It’s really a mild solvent, though, and it’s recommended by Martha and Real Simple. Once the residue is removed and the wood is clean, a damp cloth will work much better for dusting.
What about shine?
If you miss the shine from furniture sprays and polishes, you have options. You can protect your furniture with a thin coat of wax. You could try a natural furniture polish. I noticed Earth Friendly Products Furniture Polish was made from water, olive oil, and a little citrus oil. (I haven’t tried it myself.)
Don’t be misled by wood products advertising lemon oil; they are essentially kerosene and mineral oil with a lemony scent.
Baking soda works wonders to freshen carpet, but it doesn’t work like commercial fresheners that you sprinkle on and then vacuum up right away. It needs time to absorb all the odors. First sprinkle a box of baking soda generously over the carpet and then sweep it in with a broom. Let it sit overnight, and vacuum it up the next morning.
Liquid Dish Soaps
Here’s where I need some help. I want to find a new liquid dish detergent. The last one I purchased was made from several plant extracts and peppermint oil. I loved the scent, but it was expensive and it really didn’t work. I used four times as much, and it still didn’t get my dishes clean.
Any recommendations to share?
(And don’t forget, tomorrow is batch cooking day! Bring your favorite tips, recipes, or links.)