9.20.09 Natural Cleaning

Good housekeeping 1908 08 a1 790 xxx
Would it surprise you to know that I'm a lazy slob when it comes to cleaning my own house? And for the last god-knows-how-many years, I've been lucky enough to pay someone else to do it. Money I consider extremely well-spent. But now that I'm  a country mouse in my own little house, living in a town where the only cleaning person a neighbor of mine could find was an unreliable meth addict (is there any other kind?), I've been forced to take things into my own hands. Before you go all Betty Friedan on me, let me say that I get plenty of help from the husband. And I also rely on a host of natural cleaning products.
Last year, I had a fun time working for the launch of a new store on the Bowery, Green Depot. One of my projects was to write a primer to accompany a kit of natural cleaning products. I learned that with just a few basic ingredients—baking soda, distilled white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide—you can whip your house into sparkling shape. I'm talking about disinfecting, removing tough stains and even doing your laundry without harsh, toxic chemicals and bleaches that are no good for you or the environment. And I'm no longer using dryer sheets; instead I have these little muslin bags full of dried lavender that impart a wonderful fresh scent!Invest in some good reusable glass or plastic spray bottles and don't go crazy adding your own ingredients; integrating non-specified ingredients could product toxic results. However, I do recommend adding a few drops of essential oil to the all-purpose cleaner, or to the vinegar when you're doing laundry. I use geranium or lavender.Some of my favorites:Whiten clothes with 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide poured into load of all-white clothes.For brighter, fresher-smelling clothes that are free of static, add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle; this breaks up uric acid and soapy residue. This also prevents lint from sticking to clothes.For softer, fluffier cotton and wool blankets, add 2 cups of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle.Remove soap build-up and stains from chrome and plastic fixtures by scrubbing with a paste made from 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar.Spray down your shower with a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide to address odor-causing bacteria.Deodorize toilet by pouring 3 cups distilled white vinegar directly into the bowl; allow to sit 30 minutes before flushing.Sprinkle baking soda into your vacuum bag, trash bags and cat litter box to help reduce spread of odors throughout your house.Remove crayon or stains on walls with a paste made from baking soda and water. Apply and brush off with an old toothbrush.To remove burned-on food from a pan, apply a thick layer of baking soda and sprinkle sufficient water to moisten. Let it sit overnight before scrubbing clean.