Old Faithfuls
Update Spring 2004 

You could replace most of the cleaning products in your home with just a few old faithfuls. Borax, baking soda, vinegar, salt and a handful of rags are the cleaning products your grandparents probably used. They can be used for most of your household cleaning needs. They are cheap, easy, and safer for you and the environment. Here are a few examples:

Wash your windows with a half-and-half mixture of water and vinegar.  Dry with old newspapers.

To absorb odors, use baking soda in an open container. 

A heavy duty carpet cleaner can be made by mixing 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup borax and 1/4 cup vinegar.  Rub paste into carpet and leave for a few hours.  Vacuum.

To deodorize a carpet, sprinkle liberally with baking soda, let sit for a few hours or overnight, then vacuum well.

Dishwasher detergent can be made by mixing equal parts of borax and baking soda. Store the mixture in a tightly sealed container. Use 2 tablespoons per load. If you have hard water, double the amount of baking soda in your mixture. For either mixture, use vinegar in the rinse cycle.

Drains can be kept unclogged using this method. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down drain. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar and cover drain, if possible. Let sit for 5 minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down drain. (The vinegar and baking soda break down fatty acids, allowing the clog to wash down the drain.) This method can be used weekly to help prevent drain clogs.  Warning: Do not use this method if you have used a commercial drain opener and it may still be present in the drain. 

Fabrics will be softer and you will have less static cling if you add 1/2 cup of white vinegar, baking soda OR borax to the rinse cycle of your wash. 
Lemon juice can be substituted for vinegar for people who are sensitive to vinegar. 

The possibilities are endless...

For more healthy cleaning tips see the Guide to Less Toxic Products at www.lesstoxicguide.ca