Surface Cleaners

  • Dissolve baking soda in hot water for a general cleaner.
  • Mix 1 quart hot water, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil-based soap/detergent, 1 teaspoon borax, and 2 tablespoon vinegar. Vinegar is used here as mild acid to cut grease; borax is used as a water softener, good in areas with hard water, to prevent soapy deposits.
  • Mix 1/2 cup vinegar in 1 quart of warm water.
  • Weak acids like vinegar and lemon juice are good at cutting grease.


  • Automatic dishwasher: Automatic dish-washing detergents have a very high level of phosphates.
  • Hand Washing: Use vegetable oil-based soaps/detergents.

Products With Drain Openers

  • Use a strainer on all drains to reduce plugged drains.
  • Pour boiling water down the kitchen drain once a week to keep it grease free.
  • Toss a handful of baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar down the drain. Cover the drain, sealing in the carbon dioxide gas bubbles as they agitate your clog loose. Let sit 15 minutes. Rinse with 2 quarts boiling water. Follow with plunger.
  • Most bathroom sink clogs are caused by hair. Prevent with a good sink strainer.
  • Use a metal plumbers snake to unclog stubborn drains. A plumbers snake is a great investment.
  • Roots in drains:
    • Do not use copper sulfate-based root control products for drains blocked by roots. This product releases copper into the ground and surface water.
    • Have drains cleared by a professional who uses mechanical root removal techniques or non-metallic, foaming herbicides.
    • Have breaks in sewer lines repaired to prevent further entry of roots.

Glass Cleaners

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar / 1 quart water.
  • A quality squeegee is the pro's secret to no streaks on windows.
  • The pros use a squeeze of dish-washing liquid in gallon water.

Oven Cleaners

  • Mix 2 table spoons liquid dish soap and 2 teaspoons borax in 2 cups of warm water. Apply and let sit for 20 minutes, then scrub.
  • Use a non-chlorinated scouring powder, like Bon Ami.
  • Use a baking soda, salt, and water paste.
  • Clean glass oven door with Bon Ami. Use razor blade or spatula for tough spots.
  • Avoid aerosol oven cleaners. Easy-off brand has a non-caustic formula with no lye (sodium hydroxide).
  • Don't use any abrasive cleaning materials on self-cleaning ovens.
  • Prevention:
    • Periodically clean the oven with baking soda and water.
    • Protect oven floor from spills. Always place a cookie sheet or foil pan under pans to catch drippings.

Mildew Removers

  • Scrub mildew spots with borax/water with a nylon scouring pad. If plaster wall is penetrated by mold, leave a borax/water paste on the wall for a couple days. Vacuum off.
  • Try scrubbing mildew with a vinegar and salt paste, if problem is not severe.
  • To clean mildew from a shower curtain use a mixture of 1/2 cup borax/1 gal water
  • Or, try vinegar full strength, then rinse.
  • Or, machine wash curtain, with a towel. Add 1 cup vinegar to rinse cycle.
  • Prevention:
    • Wash grout often enough so mold can't get established.
    • Always air out damp areas.
    • Seal grout after cleaning by painting grout with a water sealer.
    • To inhibit mold and mildew, wash area with 1/2 cup borax/1 gallon hot water.
    • Use a very dilute bleach solution of 1/4 cup to 1 gallon water.
    • Keep a small squeegee in the shower.

Rug, Carpet & Upholstery

  • Regular vacuuming will keep dirt from getting ground in.


  • Clean up spills right away. You will be less likely to require high strength cleaners.
  • Pour club soda on a spill and blot.
  • Use a non-aerosol, soap-based cleaner.
  • Mix 1 quart warm water, 1 teaspoon vegetable-oil-based soap/detergent, 1 teaspoon borax, and a splash of vinegar; apply with a damp cloth or sponge and rub gently; blot.

Toilet Bowl Cleaners

  • Use mix of 1/2 cup borax /1 gal. water to clean and deodorize.
  • Let 1 cup borax sit in the bowl overnight.
  • Coat stains in toilet bowl with paste of lemon juice and borax. Let sit about 20 minutes and scrub with bowl brush.
  • Clean frequently with a solution of baking soda and water; sprinkle baking soda around the rim.
  • Avoid solid toilet bowl deodorizers that contain paradichlorobenzene.
  • Some toilet bowl-cleaning products contain acids (read labels). If acids are mixed with a cleaner containing chlorine (like bleach), toxic chlorine gas is released.

Tub & Sink Cleaner

  • Use baking soda like a scouring cleanser. Use non-chlorinated cleanser (e.g. Bon Ami). Very effective and doesn't dissolve as fast as baking soda.
  • Try fine grain wet/dry sandpaper (400 grit) to remove pot marks in porcelain sinks (gentler than common scouring cleansers).
  • Chlorinated cleansers may still be necessary to remove stubborn stains in porcelain.
  • Caution: chlorinated cleansers contain bleach which can react with other cleaners that contain ammonia or acids, to form dangerous gases.
  • To remove mineral deposits around faucets, cover deposits with strips of paper towels, soaked in vinegar. Let set for 1 hour and clean.


Hard water means the water has a high mineral content (e.g. calcium, magnesium, iron, etc.). This often results in whitish mineral deposits left on faucets, shower doors, drains, windows. Vinegar, a weak acid, can dissolve many of these deposits.