Make Your Own Nontoxic Odd-Job Kitchen Cleaners

Making your own cleaning supplies is not only cost-effective, it can also be good for you. The less harsh chemicals that you bring into your house, the less you have to worry about exposing your body to potentially harmful toxins. Here are some great ways to clean up your kitchen using products that you can commonly find, well, in the kitchen (or your local grocery store).

Cost savings: Between $2.40 and $12, depending on the product
Benefit: Safe and non-toxic cleaning for the kitchen

Even clean kitchens get dirty fast, maybe because they see a lot of traffic. Still, when it comes to sprucing up, the kitchen is a showcase of a lot of different materials—metals, porcelain, wood, Formica, tile, perhaps some marble or soapstone, maybe acrylic polymer compounds such as Corian.

Each has its own requirements when it comes time to clean, but once again, common household ingredients come to the rescue.

COUNTER TILE: Clean porcelain tile with a half-and-half mixture of white distilled vinegar and water. Spray the mixture from a bottle or wipe it on the surface with a cotton cloth. To remove grime and stains from grout, make a paste from baking soda and a few drops of water and scrub grout with a toothbrush. Borax can be substituted for baking soda for tough jobs.

FORMICA: Formica surfaces and countertops respond well to a blend of baking soda and castile soap, or a mild dish soap. You don’t need to make too much at one time; 1/4 cup (55g) of baking soda mixed with enough soap to make a light paste will go a long way.

PORCELAIN ENAMEL: This treatment works well on porcelain enamel, found on appliance surfaces, sink fixtures, and cookware. White distilled vinegar is antifungal and a disinfectant, and will brighten up dulled porcelain. Mix 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water, and wipe it on with a clean cloth. Allow it to work for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a wet cloth.

KITCHEN WOOD: Clean grease from cabinets with a lemon juice/castile soap formula. Mix 1/3 cup (+80 ml) of lemon juice with 1/4 cup (+60 ml) of water, and add 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of liquid soap. A small amount of extra-virgin olive oil can be added for lubrication. Apply with a damp sponge and let dry (do not wipe off). The lemon leaves a pleasing scent.

ACRYLIC POLYMERS: Use a gentle cleanser on countertops made of Corian and similar manufactured solid surfaces (except for products made by DuPont®). Mix a few drops of liquid dish soap, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of white vinegar or lemon juice, and 1 pint (473 ml) of warm water to make a mild cleaning solution that can be safely wiped on to get rid of soil and every stains. Do not wipe off.

SOAPSTONE: Soapstone, or steatite, is treated with mineral oil to give the surface a pleasing dark patina. Avoid using strong chemicals on these counter surfaces, including household ammonia. Instead, use a mild liquid soap (or a scented castile soap) and water. Do not use acetic solutions such as white vinegar or lemon juice, as they can corrode the stone particles.

Housekeeping Techniques that Save You Time and Money

The Country Almanac of Housekeeping Techniques That Save You Money is an empowering book that shows us all how to live healthier and greener, save money, take care of our homes and yards, and do it all ourselves! It would make a great gift for any homeowner.”—Brigitte Mars,, co-author of The Country Almanac of Home Remedies

Our forefathers and mothers knew how to keep their homes clean and homey—and live richer while spending less. Many of today’s products are expensive, bad for the environment, and don’t work any better than Grandma’s methods, which only cost pennies.

The editors at Back Home Magazine have collected hundreds of formulas for effective cleaning, gardening, and home maintenance—as well as ways our ancestors saved on heating bills, prevented costly repairs, and maintained a cozy, charming home with little besides ingenuity.

Drawing on the advice and techniques of contributors across the country, this indispensable guide shows you the best ways to take care of everything in your home from wood floors, to tile, to stainless steel appliances–and how to get the longest life out of every household item from pots and pans to pillowcases.

The Country Almanac of Housekeeping Techniques That Save You Money is chock-full of solutions, recipes, and how-to projects for living a simpler, cleaner life and keeping your home beautiful.