Spring cleaning safely with cheap, safe cleaners (Released: 4/29/96)
by Renu Sehgal, Office of University Communications.
STORRS, Conn. -- Spring cleaning can be inexpensive and safe for
the environment if you make your own household cleaners, according
to Mary Ellen Welch, a consumer expert at the University of
Welch, an extension educator with the Cooperative Extension
Center in Haddam, has instructions for making air fresheners,
all-purpose cleaners, and cleaners specifically for aluminum,
bathrooms, chrome, drains, brass and copper, furniture, marble,
ovens, refrigerators, silver, toilet bowls, windows, paint brushes
and painted surfaces.
''It is an environmentally and economically sound
practice to prepare your own household cleaners in the amounts you
anticipate using,'' Welch said.
By making your own cleaning products, she said, you not only
save money and cabinet space, but you also reduce trash and promote
a healthy environment.
Some of the solutions require chlorine bleach compounds, which
are toxic to aquatic organisms in very low concentrations. But
chlorine is less toxic than some other cleaning products found on
the market. Consider using chlorine as a cleaning agent only when
necessary for heavy cleaning jobs, she said.
Be sure to follow these safety tips when making and using your
- Open windows and ventilate the area
- Wear gloves, protective clothing and shoes
- Avoid contact with skin and eyes
- Store cleaners in labeled, non-food containers
- Lock cleaners in a cabinet out of the reach of children
- Do not mix different products
- Keep products away from heat, cigarettes and flammable
- Keep the telephone number of the nearest poison control center
- Dispose of empty containers by following recycling instructions
in your community
Welch's recipes for non/low toxic household cleaners:
- Open windows
- Circulate air with a fan or air conditioner
- Place cut lemons or baking soda in a dish
- Boil cinnamon and cloves in water
- Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 quart warm water. Wipe surface
with sponge then dry.
- Soap jelly can be made by adding 1 cup of soap flakes to 1
quart boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Pour into jar and let
cool. Mix with water as needed.
- Soak in a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar to 1 quart water;
boil if necessary.
- Soak in a solution of 2 teaspoons cream of tartar to 1 quart
water; boil if necessary.
- Mix 1/2 cup chlorine bleach and 1 cup water. Spray on tile to
remove mildew. Let stand for 10 minutes. Rinse with water.
- Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 quart water. Wash with sponge,
- Mix 1/4 cup baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Rub
on, rinse with water, dry.
- Use drain taps
- Pour boiling water down the drain
- Use a plunger or a plumber's snake
BRASS AND COPPER CLEANER
- Mix 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1
tablespoon vinegar. Rub with sponge and let dry. Rinse with hot
water, then dry with soft cloth.
- Mix 1 teaspoon lemon oil and 1 pint mineral oil. Spray on
furniture, wipe clean with soft cloth.
- Mix 1/4 cup linseed oil, 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup lemon
juice. Rub into wood with soft cloth.
- Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 quart water. Wash with
sponge, wipe dry.
- Make a paste of equal parts salt, baking soda and water. Apply
to walls of oven. Let stand for five minutes, then wipe clean with
a damp cloth. Use a brush on heavy spills. Do not allow baking soda
to touch heating elements or wiring.
- Mix 1/2 cup bleach and 1 gallon water. Wash refrigerator
interior, wipe dry.
- Line an aluminum pan with a piece of aluminum foil
- Mix 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 quart hot
water. Add silver and boil for three minutes. Remove silver, wash
with detergent, rinse and dry. Do not use on silver jewelry.
TOILET BOWL CLEANER
- Add 1/2 cup bleach to toilet. Let stand for a half hour. Scrub
bowl with brush and flush.
- Add 2 tablespoons vinegar to 1 quart warm water. Spray on
windows and wipe dry.
PAINT BRUSHES CLEANER
- Place hardened paint brushes in a bowl of hot vinegar for 10
- Rinse thoroughly.
PAINTED SURFACES CLEANER
- Dust and vacuum surface before applying liquid solutions. Use a
cloth dipped in the cleaning solution. Starting from baseboard,
work upward toward the ceiling to prevent streaking. Clean small
areas at a time.
- Rinse with water, then dry.
- Mix 1/4 cup soap jelly and 1 gallon hot water. Wash walls with
cloth dipped in this mixture.
- Heavily soiled areas can be cleaned by mixing four parts
whiting to 1 part soap jelly. Rub carefully on soiled areas. Rinse
with water and let dry.
- Whiting is available at hardware and paint stores.
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