Clean green Martha Stewarts tips for making your own all-natural cleaning products — NY Daily News

Clean green Martha Stewarts tips for making your own all-natural cleaning products - NY Daily News

Clean green: Martha Stewart’s tips for making your own all-natural cleaning products

Mixing up all-natural homemade cleaners is easy — and much better for the environment than harsh store-bought brands.

When it comes to cleaning house, bleach and ammonia products are usually the first to come to mind. While you may like the way they clean, these products contain dangerous pollutants. Using them can hurt the eyes, airways and even your nervous system. Washing disinfectants and other chemicals down drains now contaminates more than two-thirds of all U.S. streams, and because of these same products, our indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than the air outside. You might be surprised to learn that there are safe, nontoxic solutions that have comparable cleaning power.

“These days, it’s easier than ever to stay green while cleaning your home,” says Alanna Fincke. editor in chief of Body Soul magazine. “You can find a variety of green cleaning products in your local grocery store or you can make your own using natural, accessible ingredients. It’s never too late to switch. Using these products is better for the Earth and your family’s health. To learn how to make your own green cleaning products, visit  and check out the April issue of Body Soul, where we solve your biggest green cleaning conundrums.”

Here are a few greener versions of your preferred cleaning products; they’ll get the house just as clean without the chemicals.

Natural all-purpose scrub

Pour ½ cup of baking soda into a bowl and mix with liquid soap to create a creamy paste. Cut a lemon in half, and spread the paste on the flat side of the half lemon. When you scrub with the lemon, it acts as a sponge and leaves its natural scent. After scrubbing, wipe away any residue with a damp rag or sponge. The paste will stay moist for a few hours. To save leftover scrub, add a few drops of vegetable glycerin (a thick, clear syrup derived from plant oils) and seal in a glass jar.

Window cleaner

Mix ½ teaspoon Castile soap or plant-based liquid soap and 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle and shake. Spray onto windows and wipe clean with newspaper or a 100% cotton cloth. This soap solution helps remove any streak-causing wax left on the window from commercial cleaners used in the past. You can eliminate soap from the recipe after a few washings. Safety note: Always be careful to label containers of homemade cleaners intended for storage, and keep them well out of the reach of children.

You can clean almost anything with vinegar — use it straight for tough jobs, or dilute with water. Be careful to rinse thoroughly, since vinegar can corrode fixtures and etch glaze on tiles. Tea tree oil, a natural fungicide and antiseptic, will also work against mold — mix 2 teaspoons with 2 cups water. To whiten stained tiles or grout, use ½ cup hydrogen peroxide mixed with 1 cup water. To use any of these solutions, simply apply to a surface, let it dry, and wipe with a damp cloth.

Tub and tile cleaner

Vinegar works well on soap scum and mineral deposits. So does tea tree oil — 2 drops tea tree oil with 1 cup water — in a spray bottle. Tea tree oil costs more than vinegar, but it kills most types of mold and helps prevent growth. Be careful: As with all concentrated oils, tea tree oil can trigger allergic reactions if it comes into contact with skin. Pregnant women should consult a health-care practitioner before using.

Natural carpet stain remover

The most important thing to remember with carpets is to blot — don’t rub. Apply some soda water to a fresh spill, and blot with a towel. If the stain is already set, try hydrogen peroxide: Pour some onto a white cloth and press cloth to carpet. Wait about 15 minutes, and blot with a clean cloth. There’s no need to rinse.

Stainless steel fixtures

Baking soda works as a deodorizer and gentle scrub. It softens hard water, removes acidic stains, and polishes shiny surfaces like stainless steel without scratching. Apply with water and a sponge or 100% cotton cloth.

Floor cleaner

To get your hard floors clean, mix 1/8 cup plant-based liquid soap, 1/8 cup distilled white vinegar and 10 drops of an essential oil, like eucalyptus, lavender or tea tree oil with 1 gallon of water in a bucket. Mop as usual. Helpful hint: For ceramic and stone floors, don’t use soap, which leaves a film. Instead, use ¼ cup of vinegar with 1 gallon of water.

Clean & polish wood floors

Don’t use water on unsealed wood floors. Instead, combine 2 cups of vinegar with 1 tablespoon of olive or jojoba oil in a bucket. Spread a thin coat over the floor with a mop or soft cloth. Let it soak for 20 minutes and dry-mop to absorb any excess. Open windows to air out the vinegar smell. You can also try using olive oil to nourish and polish wood, instead of conventional wood polish.

Personal hygiene

Try soaps made with oils such as olive (like Castile soap), palm or coconut, rather than petroleum derivatives or animal fat.

For more natural cleaning ideas, along with recipes, ideas and more home inspirations, visit

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