When the Cleaning Gets Tough

For particularly tough cleaning jobs, skip the abrasive chemicals and use simple ingredients to make these natural cleaners.

| May/June 2017

  • Creating a clean home doesn't have to require harsh chemicals, even for tough stains.
    Photo by iStock/kazoka30
  • Use a microfiber mop and reusable cloth to clean floors.
    Photo by Getty Images
  • Clean stainless steel by wiping it in the direction of the grain.
    Photo by iStock/pixalot
  • Use white vinegar and rubbing alcohol to clean stubborn water stains.
    Photo by iStock/YinYang
  • Simple ingredients pack a powerful cleaning punch.
    Photo by iStock/eskaylim
  • Brown sugar, lemon, water and yeast are all it takes to make this handy enzyme cleaner.
    Photo by Jill Nystul
  • Red wine stains? Cover the stain with a small mound of salt overnight, and wash afterward.
    Photo by Lauri Patterson

For those of us inclined to maintain our homes without chemical toxins, wiping down countertops and door handles with vinegar and scenting our homes with essential oils is probably a given. But maintaining our “all-natural” vibe gets a little more challenging when we’re dealing with more tenacious foes (water stains, shower scum and clogged drains come to mind). Before you panic and turn to harsh chemicals (“just this once!”), try these hard-hitting strategies cleaning experts recommend.

Bucket-less Mopping

One of the toughest cleaning jobs in our homes is washing the floor—especially kitchen floors that get a lot of traffic. To clean a hard floor correctly, it’s really best done on hands and knees, but who has time for that? Instead, I’ve developed a technique called “bucket-less mopping.” All you need to do is start by vacuuming the entire floor with a soft-bristle floor attachment to pick up all the large hair and dirt. Then use a microfiber mop with removable microfiber mop covers and a spray bottle filled with a DIY cleaner (see recipe below), and you can mop the floor in a few minutes without having to scrub on your hands and knees.

Start by wetting the microfiber covers in the sink. Wring out the first cover and place on the microfiber mop. Start at one end of the kitchen and spray cleaner in a 4-by-4-foot area, then wipe with the damp mop. The microfiber and cleaner combine to eliminate grime, leaving a small amount of water, which dries quickly. Continue to move through the kitchen, spraying and wiping. Replace the dirty cover with a clean one as necessary. The floor will come out spotless.

(Watch my “how to” video)

DIY Tile Floor Cleaner

• 1 cup boiling water
• 1/4 cup borax
• 1 cup white vinegar
• 10 drops essential oil of your choice, for scent

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