Last updated: Sep 23, 2010
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Using toxin-free, all- or mostly natural cleaning products isnt just a good idea for protecting the environment inside (and outside) your home—it can actually save you some dough. I havent done the math, but over a years time, Ill bet you could piggy-bank the cost of a couple of nice massages if you swap homemade cleansers for the pricier kind that come laden with chemicals. And its easy! Here are a few of the cleansers I make for my house:


My Mother-in-Laws Shiny Floor Cleaner
My beloved, 90 year-old Italian mother-in-law, Nonnie Maria, has a simple potion that cleans and shines her wood floors, and now I use it on mine (also nice for wooden cabinets and furniture). She adds about ¼ cup of Murphys oil soap (an all-natural product made from tree oils) and a splash of white vinegar to a gallon of hot water, and mops her floors with the milky liquid. You dont have to rinse, and the lemony aroma smells like a summer night in the Italian countryside.

Simple Dish Scrub Powder
It doesnt get any simpler than this: use baking soda as you would any commercial scrub powder. It wont scratch non-stick or other surfaces, and it tackles all but the most serious baked-on messes. Just follow with a hot water rinse to kill germs. As non-toxic alternative, try Bon-Ami, an inexpensive scouring powder made from mineral abrasives and biodegradable detergent; it shines without scratching. I use this to clean lightly soiled pans and countertops.

All-Purpose Cleanser
Mix a couple of tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice with a teaspoon of borax in a spray bottle filled with warm or hot water. Spritz on surfaces and wipe clean.

Vinegar and Newspaper
To make your windows sparkle, just fill a bowl with white vinegar, and use newspapers instead of rags to apply the vinegar and wipe the windows dry. I dont know if some magical synergy between the newsprint and the vinegar makes this work so well, but nothing makes glass disappear like this combo.