Even Kool-Aid has a place in your spring cleaning arsenal.
Though there are countless cleaning products available today, it can be difficult to find reliable cleaning agents that won’t pose a risk to the health of your kids, pets, or partners. That’s where these everyday ingredients come in. With a little ingenuity and elbow grease, these common kitchen ingredients—which can probably be found in your cupboard as we speak—will freshen up just about every surface of the home. These everyday powerhouses offer a safe and affordable method of cleaning your space, the natural way.
Both a deodorizer and disinfectant, vinegar is an underrated cleaning superpower with the ability to clean countertops and backsplashes, soften fabrics, dissolve dirt and water deposits, and make that shower tile shine again. The type of vinegar you’ll want to use in your cleaning conundrums is distilled white vinegar, which can aid in cleaning your floors, countertops, toilet, and more.
Though the idea of spreading vinegar all over your shower tile might seem like a smelly situation, the acidic smell of vinegar will disappear once completely dry. And, as a natural deodorizer, white vinegar absorbs odors instead of just masking them, making for a deeper clean in the end.
To use vinegar in your cleaning, simply mix 1 part white vinegar with 3 parts water in a spray bottle and use the mixture to wipe down surfaces or spray on any fabrics that need freshening up. If the vinegar scent is a little too aggressive for your liking, try adding a squeeze of lemon juice, a lemon rind, and a few sprigs of rosemary to the mixture, or add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
Chances are at some point in your life you’ve used an open box of baking soda to freshen up the scent of your fridge, but this classic deodorizer has a range of uses that goes well beyond smell-absorption.
For many cleaning tasks, baking soda can be sprinkled directly onto a damp sponge and used to scour and scrub your oven, sink, and countertop, and remove bathtub rings and water deposits. To polish up your stainless steel appliances, mix 1 quart of water with 4 tablespoons of baking soda and wipe down the shiny surfaces with a sponge soaked with the mixture.
Baking soda can be used to freshen up and deodorize rugs—just sprinkle a layer of the powder over it and let sit overnight before vacuuming up the residue—and get your laundry even cleaner when you add 1 cup to your load along with your detergent.
To unclog a kitchen drain quickly, pour 1 cup of baking soda down the pipe, followed by 1 cup of hot vinegar. Polish dull floors by combining ½ cup baking soda with warm water and mopping and rinsing the surfaces. And, of course, freshen up the scent of just about anything by adding a layer of the magical powder, which will help to mask and eliminate unwanted odors.
This tart fruit can not only make your house smell citrusy and fresh, but also ward off bacteria and rejuvenate your surfaces. Particularly when paired with water and vinegar, fresh lemon juice makes for the perfect home cleaning agent. Packed with acid, lemon juice has the ability to kill bacteria, germs, and mold—and makes a pretty knockout deodorizer. Rub the juice over countertops, tile, and cutting boards to give them an instant refresh.
In addition to their juice, lemon peels can also be a great cleaning tool. All citrus peels contain limonene, a citrus oil that can help to disinfect, remove stains, and acts as a powerful degreaser. Citrus peels can be added directly to a garbage disposal to deodorize, or combined with other ingredients to create a powerful solution.
To make your own amazing all-purpose (and all-natural) cleaner, fill a mason jar with citrus peels and white vinegar, and allow to infuse for two weeks before using as a clean-all agent on a myriad of surfaces.
Though rubbing olive oil on your surfaces might seem like more of a mess-maker than a mess-fixer, this versatile cooking staple can also be used to effectively polish wood and metal surfaces to make them look shiny and new again.
Combine 1 cup of olive oil with ½ cup of white vinegar—and optionally a few drops of essential oils for a more pleasant scent—to create an effectual wood polish. Use a soft cloth and olive oil to buff stainless steel into its original shiny state, or rub a small amount of olive oil into scratches on your leather furniture with a soft cotton cloth to make the piece look new again.
Olive oil can also be used to clean your cast iron pans safely and effectively. For a full break down of how to properly polish your cast iron, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Maintaining Your Cast-Iron Skillet.
This natural ingredient has been used as a cleaning agent for centuries, and can be used to scour a number of household surfaces.
Used in tandem with vinegar or lemon juice, table salt can help to clean brass the natural way. Simply rub your brass object with a sponge filled with lemon juice or white vinegar, and then sprinkle on a layer of salt. Rinse with water and wipe the surface clean with a soft cloth. Salt combined with vinegar can also be rubbed on ceramic mugs to remove pesky coffee stains, and poured down the kitchen sink regularly to break down grease and deodorize.
Clean and deodorize the inside of your fridge by combining salt with soda water and rubbing on the surfaces, and remove water rings from wooden tables by mixing salt with a small amount of vegetable oil and applying to the rings. You can also clean your cast irons by heating oil and scrubbing away with ¼ cup of salt.
Pour salt on top of fresh wine stains on fabric to help pull the liquid away, and brighten dulled rugs and fabrics by rubbing them with a saltwater-soaked cloth. Or, if you have perspiration or blood stains on your fabrics, combine 4 tablespoons of salt with a quart of hot water and apply to the stain with a sponge, or soak your cloth in the solution before adding it to the laundry.
Yes, that Kool-Aid. The sugary-sweet powdered drink mix you consumed by the glassful as a kid has some undercover cleaning capabilities that every house should get in on. The key to this method is in the flavor: stock up on the Lemonade Kool-Aid packets (the bright red fruit punch option might make a bit of a mess).
Lemonade Kool-Aid makes for the perfect toilet bowl cleaner, thanks to the citric acid in the mix, which helps to break down mineral build-ups. Simply sprinkle a packet of the powder around the sides of your toilet bowl, scrub with a toilet brush and let sit overnight. When you flush away the powder in the morning, your bowl will be like new.
Kool-Aid can also be used to clean your washing machine and dishwasher. Pour ¼ cup of the mix into the detergent compartment of your machine and run a wash cycle, which will help to deodorize and freshen up both appliances. Not to mention, you can mix yourself up a sweet, nostalgic beverage while you wait.