If you’re like the typical American, you might have upwards of 50 cleaning products throughout your house. For your bathroom alone, you might have a different bottle of cleaning solution for each surface - the toilet, counters, mirror, shower door, shower drain … you get the picture. Wouldn’t it be great to have just a few cleaning products that would work for your whole house? If you’d like to cut the clutter and refine your cleaning arsenal, here’s how! It starts with a look at some household cleaners you can toss right now.
There are lots of reasons to pare down your stash of cleaners and chemicals. Maybe you'd like to use items that are better for the environment, or that don’t pose any toxic risk to your family, or perhaps you just want to declutter (!). Below are some items you can eliminate simply because... in our humble opinion, they're unnecessary.
Oven cleaner: If you have a self-cleaning oven, this is a no-brainer. Follow the instructions for your specific oven, turn on the setting, open some windows, and let your oven do the work. Alternatively, Beth Greer, author of Super Natural Home suggests putting a dish of water in a hot oven to release steam and soften any baked-on globs. After the oven is cool, mix equal parts salt, baking soda and vinegar and scrub. Voila!
Glass cleaners: Handprints, water marks, and all sorts of smudges. Don't they just bug the heck out of you? When you want to make those windows and mirrors shine, a simpler alternative to a cleaner is to use a microfiber towel. Car afficionados would be familiar with these, as they're often used to remove any hint of a smudge from a glorious paint job. Another thing you could try is to fill a spray bottle with vinegar and water (this is something you can use for many other purposes as well), and use that in place of the glass cleaner.
Drain uncloggers: What’s even better than needing to unclog a drain is to keep it from getting clogged in the first place. This one is simple as well... just purchase guards that prevent hair and other items from getting down your drains! Now, we realize that sometimes things will still work their way past the screens and similar devices you can buy for this purpose, so when clogs DO occur, try to dislodge them first with a hanger or other useful item to manually remove the clog. If that still doesn’t work, try sprinkling baking soda down a clogged drain, followed by an equal amount of vinegar. Wait 30 minutes, then follow with some boiling water to rinse the drain. This recipe is used by many with success, and is outlined here.
Ammonia: This one is debatable. Some people love the low cost and the “it can do everything” power of ammonia. But for others, the overpowering scent and potential hazards of the chemical outweigh its cleaning prowess. You’ll have to do the research on this one to see if it’s worth using in your home.
Multi-surface disinfectants: If you have bleach or vinegar, and a spray bottle, using just these cleaners and water can work equally as well. DO NOT mix the bleach and the vinegar, though, this chemical combination results in toxic chlorine gas. Not fun. Use only bleach and water, or vinegar and water - seperately. Don't mix them up. Here is a list of other househould chemicals we might unwittingly mix at home that are, well, seriously not good for us.
Moral of the story: many of your household surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected by a few simple ingredients - salt, baking soda, vinegar, bleach, water, among others you may have found useful. So rid yourself of the unnecessary bottles and use all that storage space for something else. Or better yet, take down all those shelves and add a little square footage to your home.
A couple very important notes here: if you DO decide to rid your home of one of these chemicals, dispose of them properly. Doing so can keep our waterways clean and prevent toxins from leaching into unwanted territory. One last note when mixing your own spray bottles of useful cleaning solutions (if you didn't already read the link above!) – never ever mix ammonia and bleach (including cleaners that contain these substances). It will produce toxic fumes. Be safe out there folks :-)