Your monthly chore day is quickly approaching, and you’re dreading the expensive trip to the store that goes with it—buying all the supplies on your list could set you back hundreds of dollars. Skip the trip this time: You have a kitchen full of products that can clean just about anything those chemical cleaners can, without harming you or the environment.
Salt is almost as versatile a cleaning product as it is a taste saver, and its powers are enhanced when combined with other ingredients that you already have in your pantry. To clean cast iron cookware, heat the pot or pan on the burner, then add coarse salt and water to form a paste. Use a folded kitchen towel to scour the paste and remnants of food away.
You can also treat mildew stains on clothing with salt and lemon juice, use salt and cinnamon to clean oven spills, and mix salt and vinegar to remove coffee stains from mugs, soap scum from bathroom tiles, and to treat carpet stains.
2. WHITE BREAD
Got a loaf that you can’t finish before the mold starts to form? Use a slice to clean up tiny pieces of broken glass, remove stains from wallpaper, dust your artwork, or clean out the inside of a coffee grinder.
After a day spent working on the car or bicycle, you need a serious cleanser to rid your hands of all that grease and grime—but you don’t need to shell out serious bucks on a name brand. A mixture of sugar and water should make light work of that mess. Just make sure you rinse your hands well with water to get that sticky cleaner off, or you will have a whole new set of problems.
4. WHITE VINEGAR
Vinegar may not be as powerful as some commercial cleaners, but, thanks to the ingredient acetic acid, it’s an effective disinfectant (although experts disagree on just how effective). It’s also cheap, and it’s much safer for the environment than harsh chemicals. You can use white vinegar to remove mineral deposits from pipes and showerheads, clean produce, and disinfect countertops, as long as they are not made of granite, marble, or other natural stones.
5. CORN STARCH
Like sugar on the hands, cornstarch is great for cleaning grease and oil stains from carpets and fabrics. If ink is the culprit, mix the cornstarch with a little milk to lift the stain out of the fibers. Corn starch can also help remove grease marks from leather.
6. LEMON JUICE
Cutting boards, laminate countertops, grout, mirrors, windows, toilet bowls, and earrings could all benefit from a lemon juice wipe down. Throw in some salt to clean brass, copper, and grilling surfaces, or add some sugar to clean and exfoliate your face.
7. BAKING SODA
Sodium bicarbonate, the active ingredient in baking soda, is a chemical compound that some brands claim has hundreds of uses, many of which involve cleaning. From baby toys and laundry to your car’s headlights, if it needs to be cleaned or deodorized, your best bet may be to reach for the baking soda first. But beware of mixing baking soda with vinegar—your kitchen counter is no place to reenact a grade school science project.