To be honest, I basically only use 3 things – vinegar, soda and hydrogen peroxide. I keep spray bottles of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (3%) and just grab and spray when I need something. Here is a more comprehensive list with items you can get in Germany and solutions to try for specific problems. I have not tried them all, and you can refer to the links at the end for more information.
Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
Available in every grocery in Germany in small packet in the baking section. It’s usually called Natriumbicarbonat or Natron or Backsoda
This magic powder can be used for a variety of household cleaning purposes, such as removing stains from tile, glass, oven doors, and china; cleaning the inside of refrigerators; helping to absorb odors; and removing baked-on food from pans. It also acts as a stain remover for fruit juices and other mild acids.
Not available in Germany (illegal?!), but seems like something worth trying
A powder or crystalline salt, borax is a water softener and sanitizer. It makes an excellent freshener when added to laundry and is an all-around deodorizer. Helps to clean and deodorize. Use on wallpaper, painted walls and floors. Use it with detergents to remove stains and boost cleaning power. Keep out of reach of children as it is mildly toxic.
There are vegetable based soaps in the cleaning sections of bio shops. Try looking for Oliven Seife or Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap available at Amazon.de.
Castile soap isn’t a brand but a type of soap made exclusively from vegetable oil rather than animal fat or synthetic substances. The purists feel it should be made from olive oil but there’s a wide variety that use oil from plants such as coconut and jojoba. Available in liquid or bar form that can be used for general-purpose cleaning (anything from dishes, car).
Wasserstoffperoxid in German and available from Apotheke. I have ordered 5 L containers from Aamzon.
Hydrogen Peroxide is simply water with an extra oxygen molecule. A mild alternative to chlorine bleach that can be used for stain removal and mild bleaching and killing germs. Hydrogen peroxide should be diluted down to 3% as a base for most applications (a common way to buy it). Keep it out of direct sunlight and in a cool place, as exposure to the sun and heat will quickly break it down into oxygen and water; rendering it ineffective. Store it in a dark bottle and remember to keep it out of reach of children.
The juice consists of about 5% acid, which also makes them useful for a variety of household purposes (for example most of the same uses as vinegar). This familiar ingredient can be used to lighten stains and cut grease. It can also be used to remove tarnish can be used on brass, copper, bronze and aluminum (not to be used on silver). Because of their pleasing scent, they can be added to many of the treatments to leave a better smell.
Washing soda (carbonate of soda)
Reine Soda or Wasch Soda in German. Available at Hit or Toom in aisles with laundry products. I use this instead of baking soda since it is available in larger quantities.
A stronger alternative to baking soda, washing soda can be used as a water softener in conjunction with laundry detergents (gloves are recommended as it may irritate skin; not to be used with silks, woolens or vinyl). Can also use as whitener in laundry.
1.5 liter bottles are available at Hit and Toom. I have also bought 5 l jugs from Amazon.de.
Good for a variety of household cleaning tasks. Vinegar kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses).
Keep in a spray bottle (100%) in your kitchen and one in the bathroom and use to help kill germs and deodorize your cutting board, counters, toilet, treat mold etc. Can also be used to remove some carpet stains, mildew, wax buildup, stains, clean windows, grout, paintbrushes, coffeemakers, chrome, cookware, etc. Mix with 2 parts water to descale coffee makers and irons. Note that while white vinegar has a slight scent while wet, when dry, it leaves no odor. However, don’t use it on acetate fabrics, such as in some tablecloths, because it can dissolve the fibers.
Tea Tree Oil
Available at Body Shop, Basic Bio and some Pharmacies.
Tea Tree Oil is the essential oil steam distilled from the Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia. It is an antiseptic and has many medicinal uses in addition to household uses. Make sure it comes in a dark glass bottle with a dropper. This will prevent light from shining in and reducing the oil’s potency. Add 2 tsps. to 2 cups of water and spray to use to fight mold, disinfect, deodorize and as insect repellent.
All Purpose Cleaner
- ½ tsp washing soda
- Dab of liquid soap
- 2 cups hot water
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved
- ½ vinegar
- ½ water
Put ingredients in a spray bottle and apply. If you have buildup from other cleaners, you may want to add a dab of liquid soap the first time to clean off residue. Some people swear by drying with newspaper. In any case, use a lint free rag. Don’t clean windows when they’re in direct sunlight, because they’ll dry too fast and look “streaky.”
Mix together baking soda and liquid soap until you get a consistency you like. The amounts don’t have to be perfect. Make only as much as you need, as it dries up quickly
(can use straight vinegar or hydrogen peroxide or the tea tree oil with water as described above)
- 1 part oil (olive or linseed)
- 1 part vinegar or fresh lemon juice
- vinegar — straight or mixed with water – works on linoleum, wood or ceramic tiles. If you want more ‘scrubbing’ power, mix a larger quantity of the all purpose cleaner.
- Carpeting and rugs. To soak up and eliminate odors, sprinkle baking soda over the surface of the carpet and let it stand for 15 to 30 minutes before vacuuming. Dirty spots can be treated with vinegar/water mixture and blotted dry. Club Soda: You’ve probably heard the old adage that club soda works well on carpet stains. But you have to attack the mess right away. Lift off any solids, then liberally pour on club soda. Blot with an old rag. The soda’s carbonation brings the spill to the surface, and the salts in the soda thwart staining.
Cornmeal: For big spills, dump cornmeal on the mess, wait 5 to 15 minutes, and vacuum up the gunk.
- Countertops and sinks. Use vinegar for quick cleaning and soft scrub recipe for tougher spots.
- Ovens. (honestly, I just use a tray to catch drips and then don’t seem to need to clean)
- To clean extra-greasy ovens, mix together 1 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup of washing soda, then add enough water to make a paste; apply the paste to oven surfaces and let soak overnight. The next morning, lift off soda mixture and grime; rinse surfaces well (gloves are recommended as washing soda may irritate skin).
- 2 tablespoons liquid soap + 2 teaspoons borax + warm water, spray on, allow to sit for a while and then scrub off
- Citrus, essential or tea tree oil are meant to be particularly good for baked on messes.
- Pour vinegar over tough areas and leave to soak for two hours. Wipe off and rinse with warm water.
- Mix 2 tsp Borax, 4 TBS vinegar, 2 cups water and 1/8 cup Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap and spray into your oven. Then cover the surface with baking soda and spray with another layer of your mix. Let sit overnight and wipe clean.
- Microwave ovens.
- Try simply boiling a cup of water in your microwave and then wiping clean. Heat a bowl of water and lemon slices in your microwave for 30 seconds to a minute; then wipe out the oven. Stains will be easier to remove and old food odors neutralized.
- If that doesn’t work, try a paste made from 3 to 4 tablespoons of baking soda mixed with water. Scrub on with a sponge and rinse.
- Cutting boards. Sanitize them by spraying with vinegar and then with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Keep the liquids in separate spray bottles and use them one at a time. It doesn’t matter which one you use first, but both together are much more effective than either one alone.
- Fruit and Veggie wash. (2 methods – spray or soak) I do once with vinegar and once with hydrogen peroxide to make sure I got E. Coli
- Spray veggies with a mix of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water or 2 cups water, 2 TBS lemon juice and ¼ cup baking soda. Let sit for 5 minutes then rinse with cold water and a scrub brush.
- Soak fruit and veggies in ½ cup vinegar and 3 TBS salt in a sinkful of water (stir to mix) for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove, pat dry
- To help kill bacteria such as E. Coli on fruits and vegetables, add a quarter cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide to a sink full of cold water. immerse, rinse with cold water and drain. By killing bacteria this will also help keep fruit and vegetables fresher for longer. You can also use a spray bottle containing a 50/50 mix of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water – just spray and rinse.
- Crusty Pots
- Boil water with a few tablespoons of soda and you will not need to ruin pots with stainless steel scrubber.
- Tub and tile cleaner.
- Try the soft scrub recipe or the All Purpose cleaner.
- Sometimes spraying with straight vinegar is enough.
- mix 1 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup liquid soap, and 1/2 cup water. Then, as the last step, add 2 tablespoons vinegar (if you add the vinegar too early it will react with the baking soda). Immediately apply, wipe, and scrub.
- Mix a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution with two parts water in a spray bottle and use on bathroom tiling, but be careful on the strength in relation to painted items as it may bleach them.
- Drains. Prevent clogged drains by using hair and food traps. To de-grease and sweeten sink and tub drains, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down drain, followed by 1 cup vinegar; let bubble for 15 minutes; rinse with a pot of boiling water. You might have to repeat the procedure more than once or leave the baking soda and vinegar to “cook” overnight.
- Scrubbing sinks, tubs, and countertops with a paste of baking soda and water effectively removes dirt rings and some stains; if that doesn’t work, try a paste of washing soda and water, and be sure to wear gloves.
- Dust surfaces with baking soda, then scrub with a moist sponge or cloth. If you have tougher grime, sprinkle on some kosher salt, and work up some elbow grease.
- White vinegar helps kill bacteria, mold, and viruses. However, the only foolproof way to kill food-borne pathogens such as salmonella or E coli is to use hot, soapy water
- Instead of bleach, make your own disinfectant by mixing 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil. It’s easy!
- 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 to 4 cups hot water in a spray bottle. For extra cleaning power, add 1/4 teaspoon liquid soap to the mixture.
- Brass, copper, bronze and aluminum. To remove tarnish, rub metal with sliced lemons. For tough jobs, sprinkle baking soda on the lemon, then rub.
- Sterling silver. Put a sheet of aluminum foil into a plastic or glass bowl. Sprinkle the foil with salt and baking soda, then fill the bowl with warm water. Soak your silver in the bowl, and the tarnish will migrate to the aluminum foil. Rinse and dry the silver, then buff it with a soft cloth. (or try toothpaste)
- Laundry brightener. Add 1/2 cup of strained lemon juice during the rinse cycle.
- Fabric rinse. Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar during the washing machine’s rinse cycle to remove detergent completely from clothes, eliminating that scratchy feel. (Note: This will not leave your clothes smelling like vinegar.)
- Detergent booster.To reduce the amount of laundry detergent you need to use (especially if you have hard water ) add baking soda or washing soda. These minerals soften the water, which increases the detergent’s power. For liquid detergent, add 1/2 cup of soda at the beginning of the wash. For powdered detergent, add 1/2 cup of soda during the rinse cycle.
- Bleach. Use hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine bleach
- Remove bloodstains from clothing by blotting stain with 3% hydrogen peroxide, then rinse promptly with cold water to avoid bleaching of the fabric.
- Fabric Softener. Fabric can be softened by adding one-quarter cup of baking soda to the wash cycle.
- Mix a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution with two parts water in a spray bottle and use on areas affected by mold.
- Toilet bowl. Spray with vinegar first, then sprinkle on baking soda for totally natural, fizzy cleaning power. Scrub with a sponge or toilet brush, then rinse clean or flush.
- Sprinkle the bottoms with the natural mineral borax to prevent mold and fungus, and to keep away insects.
Household gateways for bugs:
- Spring is when ants and other critters start running amok; to keep them from crawling in, mix equal parts sugar and borax in a shaker bottle, then sprinkle along likely household entry points (keep away from areas accessible to children and pets).
Recipes for Safer Cleaners: Pamela Lundquist Saturday, March 31, 2007 Read more: http://healthychild.org/blog/comments/recipes_for_safer_cleaners/#ixzz14PoroquO
Consumer Reports GreenerChoices.or. Products for a Better Planet. Cleaners: Green buying guide 2/09 /http://www.greenerchoices.org
How to Make a Non-Toxic Cleaning kit, http://www.care2.com/greenliving
|Clean and Green: Easy Tips for Earth-Friendly Spring Cleaning, Mar 10, 2007 Shirley Siluk Gregory http://www.suite101.com/content/clean-and-green-a15882#ixzz14PcpFnng|
Never Pay for Household Cleansers Again: Make your own nontoxic cleansers with these simple recipes for cheap green cleaning. By Brian Clark Howard Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/green-cleaning-spring-cleaning-460303#ixzz14PjmjLYy
Green Cleaning Tips. Lake Louisa Property Owners Association (LLPOA) http://www.lac-louisa.ca