Get a jump on spring cleaning with these DIY solutions to cleaning problems.

When choosing to switch from store-bought cleaners to more environmentally-friendly cleaners, there are several basic ingredients that can be used.

Baking soda — this can be used for cleaning, deodorizing, softening fabrics, removing stains and cleaning drains. It can be used on vinyl, plastic, carpeting, furniture, silver, stainless steel and can even be used in refrigerators and down drains.

Vinegar — can remove mildew, stains and wax buildup. It can also be used to clean coffeepots, glass, paintbrushes, grout, windows and fireplaces. It is also a mild disinfectant that can cut through grease and get rid of stains on mirrors.

RELATED: Who Knew? The Wonders of Vinegar

Borax (sodium borate) — cleans wallpaper, floors and painted walls. It can deodorize and remove stains. It also boosts the effectiveness of other cleaning products.

Lemon juice — cuts through grease and stains on mirrors, dishes and pots.

Table salt — can be used as a disinfectant or a gentle power scrubber

Ammonia — Cleans carpets, linoleum, copper, enamel and most appliances. It is a very hard working liquid, but can also irritate the skin and the eyes. Be sure to wear gloves when using and also DO NOT mix with chlorine bleach; this combination produces a POISONOUS gas.

Washing soda — cuts grease, cleans petroleum oil, can remove wax, lipstick and can also neutralize odors. Do not use on fiberglass, aluminum or waxed floors. Be sure to wear gloves when using washing soda as well because it can irritate the skin.

Here are several recipes to use, instead of buying harsh (and pricy), store bought cleaning supplies.

All purpose cleaner
1/2 cup ammonia
1/3 cup washing soda
16 cups of warm water

All purpose cleaner (#2)
1/4 cup baking soda
1 cup ammonia
1/2 cup white vinegar
16 cups of warm water

Heavy duty polish for floors and furniture
1 tbsp carnauba wax
2 cups mineral oil

Heat in a double boiler, cool, and then apply with a soft rag.

Note: Carnauba wax can be found at auto-supply stores or hobby shops.

Furniture Polish
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
4 cups warm water

Mix ingredients and then put into a spray bottle. This polish works best when warm. You can heat it up by letting the spray bottle float in hot water. After applying to furniture, rub the surface dry with a warm cloth.


Dishwashing detergent
2 cups grated hard bar soap or soap flakes
16 cups water

Rub salad oil on the grater before grating the bar soap, it is much easier to clean after. Place the soap in a pot, add water and stir. Heat over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.

Note: This mixture is not for use in automatic dishwashers.

Instead of bleach, try this
1 part hydrogen peroxide
8 parts water

Soak clothing in this solution, then rinse.

Drain cleaner
1 cup baking soda
1 cup salt
1/2 white vinegar
1 kettle of boiling water

Pour the baking soda, salt and vinegar down the drain and leave for 15 minutes. Then pour the boiling water down.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1 tsp household ammonia
1 cup hydrogen peroxide
8 cups water

Mix ingredients in a bucket and pour the mixture into your toilet. Let stand for 30 minutes and then scrub toilet bowl and flush away. This cleaner can also be left in the toilet for several hours if you need to remove harsh stains.

Carpet cleaner
Lightly sprinkle cornstarch or baking soda over the carpet and rub it in. Leave for one hour and then vacuum.

Other alternatives
More companies are coming out with a ‘green’ line of cleaning supplies that are available to the public. Most health food stores, department stories and grocery stories now carry a line of these products, but expect to pay a little more.

For more ideas, visit eartheasy.

 A version of this story was originally published on May 9, 2018