When my husband, newborn and I first moved up north from Phoenix we were pretty broke. For the first time in my life I had to do some serious budgeting –and not the kind that lasts a week until payday. I had to strategize most everything. I read a lot of articles about budget-friendly meals and the like, but what really stuck with me was all the natural cleaning products. Dare I say I became slightly obsessed? They are easy, fun, and cheap! I’ve compiled a list of not only my favorite everyday go-to’s, but also some unique uses that you may have never thought of. As far as I’m concerned these four basic cleaning products are so versatile and easily mixed and matched as a budget and environmentally friendly substitute for any or all specialized cleaning products. Not to mention, I’d rather have a cleaning cabinet of a few select items as opposed to 20 thousand different bottles that essentially do the same thing, especially if the ingredients are toxic or at the least questionable. And even if you run out of one ingredient, chances are any other will solve your issue just as well. So what are the magic four? Vinegar, Baking Soda, Borax and Rubbing Alcohol! Lets take a closer look at these natural gems, shall we?
Vinegar- It’s a no brainer due to its high acidity that helps kill mold, mildew and bacteria. One my favorite uses for vinegar is glass cleaner, ditch the Windex! And for added streak free shine use newspaper to wipe dry (I love this method especially for the windshield). I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times that adding vinegar to the laundry is great way to eliminate odors (so is baking soda and Borax by the way) but one trick that I love is its toilet cleaning power. Add about a half cup to the toilet water before you scrub it (and you can scrub it with Borax) and the vinegar will do most of the dirty work. Unclog a drain by heating up some vinegar to a simmering temperature and pouring it down the drain. Next, add a few tablespoons of baking soda and follow with a little more heated vinegar.
Baking Soda- This fizzy scrubbing sensation can be turned into a grease-fighting miracle worker. Make a paste with a little vinegar, lay it over your stove top or cookie sheet, let it sit and then wipe clean. BOOM! Use a baking soda/water paste for insect bites and the removal of splinters. Relieve skin irritation by adding a scoop to bath water –which also works well if baby has diaper rash. Deodorize garbage cans or sprinkle some on your carpet (along with Borax) for a fresh scent (vacuum after an hour).
Borax- the other day I noticed a ton of ants creeping inside from a tiny crack under my back door. Not cool. I sprinkled a little Borax and those suckers never came back. When I recounted this story to a cousin she informed me that in addition to Borax you can also sprinkle a little sugar or salt so the pests are initially more attracted to the Borax. I haven’t had to try the added sugar yet on account of the borax working so well on its own but I loved the tip! If you’ve never heard of Borax, it’s in the laundry section and you use can use it for anything and everything cleaning and laundry. Soak your clothes, use in as a toilet bowl cleaner… for under $5 your mind will be blown! I haven’t bought carpet stain remover in a long time. Now I just mix a little borax with some water and spray it on the stain, about a four to one ratio of water to Borax, and when the stain I’m fighting happens to be something nasty like a pet accident, I add a sprinkle of baking soda along the top to pull the stain up and deodorize. And you can preserve flowers with Borax! This is what I did with my wedding bouquet; I placed the flowers in a box and sprinkled Borax all over. They dried beautifully.
Rubbing Alcohol- Plug your nose because it’s potent, but this bad boy can do so many more things than you ever imagined! Keep a little in your trunk because a spritz of rubbing alcohol will dissolve windshield frost. Be even more productive by washing your windows ahead of time with about a half cup of rubbing alcohol and a quart of water. Remove ink stains, clean your jewelry or dry erase board, and oh, this is my favorite: Sprits a little on your microfiber couch to remove any little stains. Got laminate floors? This is literally my go-to when cleaning mine: equal parts rubbing alcohol, vinegar and water, add 4-5 drops of castile soap if you’d like (I use Dr. Bonners). I’ve also added a sprig of rosemary and lemon essential oil simply because I had some on hand and it creates a yummy fragrance. You can also use it to clean your makeup brushes, those suckers can last a lifetime if properly taken care of and washing them at least once a month is ideal although I know I go a little longer sometimes. I used to use shampoo and while that works just fine, I find it easier to soak them in rubbing alcohol and let them dry. BadaBoom BadaBing!
So as you can see these four ingredients are much more versatile than just laundry, and this list doesn’t even cover half of their power! Don’t be afraid to experiment and let me know how you use these products!