How to Solve 7 Home Problems Naturally

From laundry stains to ants in the kitchen, these common household problems can be solved without resorting to harsh chemicals.

| May/June 2015

  • Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water makes an effective mildew-bleaching paste.
    Photo by GAP Interiors
  • Solve common household problems without chemicals using these simple solutions.
    Photo by GAP Interiors
  • Fight tough carpet stains with distilled white vinegar.
    Photo by Fotolia

It can happen to even those of us with the best intentions: We want to clean up the mildew in our shower without using harsh chemicals, but after scrubbing with baking soda to no avail, we resort to dousing the grime with chlorine bleach. Mission accomplished—but at what cost? “So many of these ingredients—and cleaning products—are toxic,” says Becky Rapinchuk, founder of Clean Mama and author of The Organically Clean Home. “They can trigger allergies, asthma, headaches, breathing issues—and some are even potential carcinogens. Why bring something poisonous into your house? By making sure everything you put on surfaces in your home is safe, you won’t be doing any damage to the health of you or your family.”

We talked with top natural cleaning experts to get the scoop on their favorite remedies that really work for some of the most common, and frustrating, home problems. Here are their favorite solutions to keep you from turning to chemicals for those pesky, hard-to-solve problems we all face in our homes.

In the Bathroom

Shower mildew/grout stains: “Hydrogen peroxide bleaches mildew right off,” Rapinchuk says. She mixes hydrogen peroxide with water, tea tree and peppermint essential oils. “I spray this mix on and leave it on for a couple of hours before rinsing off,” she says.

For grout, Rapinchuk recommends combining cream of tartar and lemon juice. “Make a paste of this mixture, then use a scrub brush to work it into the grout. This cleans it right up.” The paste won’t bleach colored grout like hydrogen peroxide will, she says.

Annie Bond, author of Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living, is also a fan of tea tree oil. “It’s a natural fungicide and is especially good for mold,” she says. She recommends keeping a spray bottle with 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon each tea tree and peppermint essential oils and spraying the mix on your shower daily to help prevent mildew from forming. “It also helps get rid of odors.”

Long-term solution: Once you’ve killed the mildew, seal the grout with a nontoxic product such as AFM Safecoat Grout Sealer, a clear, water-resistant sealant, says Maria Onesta Moran, owner of green living supply store Green Home Experts in Oak Park, Illinois. Then, make sure your bathroom is vented. “Mildew grows on moisture and warmth,” she says. “Turn on your ventilation fan during and after showers.”

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