We all dread it… cleaning or fixing those annoying or fiddly items that you know you have to clean at some point but would rather put off as long as possible.
The reality is these items aren’t going anywhere and the longer you wait, the harder the job will be.
But cleaning these miscellaneous items doesn’t have to be tedious or a long drawn out event. You have better things to do, after all.
So, we have come up with some quick and easy natural cleaning hacks that will allow you to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
10 Natural Home Cleaning Hacks
Here’s how to get stains out of your car seats and the dust off your ceiling fans.
1. Shower Curtains
It doesn’t take long for mold and mildew to grow on plastic shower curtain liners—even the ones that claim to be mildew resistant. Instead of throwing your curtain out, there is a quick and easy way to clean it.
Simply unhook your curtain, place it in your tub and fill it partway with hot water. Add 1 cup of table salt and soak the curtain for about three hours. Drain the tub and hang the curtain without rinsing.
Not only will the salt kill any mold and mildew naturally, it will act as a protective coating to help prevent further growth (1).
Cloth shower curtains can be washed on the gentle warm cycle in your washing machine.To fight mold, make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it on the moldy spots before washing. For best results, add two terry cloth towels to the cycle for better cleaning action. It’s also a good idea to add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the wash cycle and a 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Hang dry and iron to make it water-resistant again (2).
2. Air Conditioners
That’s right, folks—summer is coming to an end and that AC that has dutifully kept you chilling the past few months is going to need a good cleaning before you store it for the winter. AC units can become extremely dirty and even start growing mold, which is toxic and harmful to your health.
All you need to clean your AC, however, is a spray bottle filled with water and a few drops of dish soap. You can also add a few drops of lemon or tea tree oil to kill any bacteria and mold (3). To get a deeper clean, you’ll need a hose with a nozzle and a screwdriver.
Start by removing the filter in the front that just slides out. Spray it with your soap and water solution and let it sit. Next, remove the folding fins on the sides, spray them and let them soak. Now, remove the screws for the back and front casings and pull them off. Spray these and let them sit. Next, spray the inside coils and fan and let the unit sit.
Get your hose and start spraying the pieces you left to soak. Most of the dirt should come off easily, but you may need to use a small brush to clean hard-to-reach areas. Make sure to be very careful when cleaning the coils so you don’t bend them.
Finally, spray the inside of the unit with your hose, making sure you get all of the dirt and soap out. Once you have everything looking clean, let it sit for several hours to dry. When it is thoroughly dry, simply put everything back together and you have a clean, working AC for next summer!
3. Bathroom Tiles
The tiles lining your tub and wall are a perfect environment for mold and mildew. Over time, the grout can erode, creating tiny pockets where these harmful spores can multiply. Mold infestations raise the risk of a variety of respiratory and asthma-related issues by 30 to 50 percent. This is particularly true for young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems (4).
Whenever you clean mold, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using gloves and goggles. While bleach will definitely kill mold, you don’t necessarily need to use this corrosive agent unless the mold is really bad. Often just using a mixture of soap and water will do, but for added protection, add an essential oil such as tea tree oil or eucalyptus. About 12-24 drops for every 16 ounces of water is enough to kill fungi and mold.
Spray the area and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Scrub using a toothbrush and then rinse it off. Once you have thoroughly cleaned the area, let it dry completely.
To seal aging grout, simply use candle wax to prevent another mold infestation . Rub the candle on the area you wish to seal and the wax will serve as a barrier to mold and mildew!
You should clean your refrigerator thoroughly once every six months. In between, you can simply wipe down the shelves to keep them sparkling clean.
Use a mixture of two parts hot water and one part vinegar in a spray bottle. Add several drops of lemon essential oil to give it a fresh scent and fight more bacteria.
5. Dog Toys
Dogs love their toys but it doesn’t take long before they can become disgustingly dirty. Wash any plush toys or blankets in your washing machine. Add some non-toxic detergent such as borax and a cup of vinegar. Add several drops of essential lemon oil, orange or tea tree oil to kill any bacteria and other harmful microbes (5, 6). The toys will come out looking brand new.
For other toys such as rubber balls and kongs, soak them in a solution of vinegar and water for an hour. Rinse and dry before giving them back to your pet.
Cleaning your laptop can be a scary thought. But over time, your keys and screens can become a harbinger for germs and bacteria. There are commercial cleaners that are safe to use on your electronics, but they not only contain an array of chemicals, they can be expensive.
So, if you want to save money and make your own cleaner, you only need two items—distilled water and 70 percent isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). It is important to only use distilled water when cleaning your screen because other waters contain all sorts of minerals that can damage or leave nasty deposits on your screen.
Mix the water and alcohol in a 1:1 ratio and add it to a small spray bottle (7). Spray a small amount on a microfiber cloth. Gently wipe the screen and your keyboard down. Never directly spray the mixture on your laptop. You can also use compressed air to get any fine particles that are stuck between the keys.
7. Car Upholstery
If you don’t have leather seats in your car, the upholstery can become stained and dirty over time, especially if you have kids and pets. You can pay someone to professionally detail your car using various chemicals, but their toxic product they don’t always get everything out.
To do it yourself, simply mix together 2 cups of white vinegar, ¾ cup of warm water, and ½ tablespoon of dish soap (8). Another great natural cleaner is an equal parts mixture of white vinegar, dish soap, and club soda (9). If you want to add a nice aroma to your car, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to either of the two recipes.
Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray down any dirty areas. Use a scrub brush to gently go over the stains. For harder spots, repeat and use a hand-held steam cleaner until the stain lifts. When you are finished, use a shop vac to suck up any remaining moisture. Voila!
If you don’t want to use a commercial window cleaner with chemicals, a simple solution of 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 1 gallon of water will do the trick.
And instead of using a cloth or paper towels to wipe it down, use old newspapers (10)! It is a tried and true method that you can use on your windows, too. This method leaves your glass streak-free every time.
We don’t often think about cleaning our mattresses when we change the linens, but when you learn what is really on them you will be thinking twice! The average mattress is a haven for dead skin cells, sweat, and bacteria.
But what is even scarier are the invisible bugs that are living on your mattress! That’s right… there are hundreds if not thousands of bugs that are so small they are invisible to the naked eye and they are feeding on your dead skin. And according to the Asthma Society of Canada, the average person sheds a staggering two pounds of skin every year (10).
Sound disgusting? Well, it is. Researchers at Ohio University actually compared our mattresses to a crime scene. They say that dust mites find their way to your bed by clinging to your clothes or on our pets. “All you have to do is get a female dust mite to start laying eggs, and pretty soon you have a starter set going in your mattress.” And apparently, our mattresses are a dust mite’s ideal habitat—when we sleep, we provide these bugs all the food, water, and warmth they need to survive (11).
Your first instinct after reading this might be to toss that mattress in the trash as fast as you can, but there is a way to stop these critters dead in their tracks. One thing that will help is flipping your mattress every few months (if you can, some mattresses like pillow tops prevent this). There are also several natural spray formulas you can experiment with.
Some people swear by a mixture of water (2 cups) and tea tree oil (2 teaspoons). Simply vacuum the mattress first and then spray the mixture on it and let it dry. Then vacuum again (12).
You can also clean your mattress using baking soda. Mix one cup of baking soda with a few drops of any essential oil you like. Simply sprinkle the baking soda on your mattress and let it sit for 15 minutes then vacuum it off. Do this often—every 3 weeks or so—to keep dust mites in check. You should also wash your sheets weekly in hot water according to the experts.
10. Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are a wonderful way to keep you cool in the summer and circulate the air in the winter, but they also attract a ton of dust and dirt. Using a duster usually just flings the mess onto the floor and sends dust particles flying through the air.
A quick and easy trick to avoid this mess, however, is to use an old pillow case. Just slip the fan blade into the case and wipe it down by pushing on the top and bottom of the blade at once. The dust and dirt will stay inside the pillowcase and off your floor!
Once the blades are clean, you can use a light spray of water mixed with your favorite essential oil to give off a pleasant aroma when the fan is running. Try an antibacterial oil such as lemon, orange, peppermint or eucalyptus for example (13).
11. Porcelain Sink
To get your sink white again without using vim, combine lemon, salt, white vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide instead (14).
To start, saturate a soft rag or sponge in vinegar and wipe down the sink. Rinse well. Sprinkle baking soda on the rough side of the sponge and get scrubbing. Don’t be afraid to use a generous amount of baking soda. Rinse well.
Soak your sponge in hydrogen peroxide and scrub the sink again. Let it sit for 15 minutes and rinse. Lastly, cut a lemon in half and pour salt on the pulp. Once again, scrub away. Give it one last good rinse and you’re done!