Keeping a house clean especially in India with all the dust, dirt, and humidity is not easier. Unlike the west we still have our cleaning help that come in to sweep and swab but domestic help is getting more and more difficult these days and most have time limits to clean your home before running to their next job. Well, the trials and tribulations of domestic help is one I will quickly side step!
In Bangalore I stay in a beautiful house, but it also has huge amounts of glass. Unfortunately one of the biggest pros in the architecture is also a big negative when it comes to cleaning! In my attempt to clean my house I have run through every floor cleaner/glass cleaner that is there in the market. Trust me have tried and tested many a brand. Though I still use a few market brands, over the years I have realized a non-toxic, eco friendly pantry staple sometimes works way better and many a times a more cost effective solution.
Here are 5 Pantry staples to clean your home. To get started all you need is a couple of spray bottles and you’re all set.
1. Baking Soda also known as Meetha soda
The most important grocery item in my house is baking soda! And no I rarely bake anymore. Baking Soda can probably clean any surface in the house. Just sprinkle baking soda on a damp cloth. Wipe and rinse with clean water.
If you have silver, which needs to be polished, just make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to one part water. Rub the paste onto each item, rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.
To remove stubborn stains from most surfaces, use a baking soda paste. This is like a (3 parts baking soda, one part water). This paste also known as a “poultice” needs to be the consistency of idli batter or thick yoghurt.
This poultice can be used to remove stains on marble countertops or floors. Apply the paste on the stained area. Cover with a cling film wrap. Make a few holes so that air can circulate and keep overnight or for over 4 hours. The time duration depends on how soon who have noticed the stain. Old stains may take a couple of days.
Baking soda also helps to remove smells from a carpet or rug. This is especially for homes that get damp and musty during the monsoons or houses with dogs! Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet. Let stand for at least fifteen minutes, then vacuum or use a carpet brush. Repeat as needed.
Although Vinegar is not considered a disinfectant, apparently it can kill any Ecoli and Salmonella bacteria…. who wants to come in contact with those! Vinegar is highly acidic in nature and hence can be used in any surface, which does not absorb it. So you can use it on tiles, glass, kitchen counters, bathroom etc but not on sensitive stone like marble. To me it is the most effective glass cleaner better than all the Colin Sprays of the world.
To use make a combination of equal parts vinegar and water. For added effectiveness especially when cleaning tiles you can add baking soda and a few drops of lemon.
Besides glass and mirrors, vinegar is superb in cleaning toilet bowls. Pour a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar into the bowl. Let sit several hours or overnight. I usually just put in the night before going to bed. Scrub well with a toilet brush in the morning and flush.
Vinegar is also great for removing carpet stains. Make a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1/2 cup white vinegar. Place over the stain and keep until it dries. Vacuum or use a carpet brush to brush over the surface. For larger or darker stains, add 2 tablespoons baking soda to the mixture and use in the same way. Some stains are stubborn especially old coffee or wine stains…so you may need to repeat the process after a few days.
You don’t need to use this particular brand…any white vinegar brand will do.
3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has been termed a miracle food. However as lover of furniture and all things wood coconut oil has been working miracles for me. I don’t have polish wallas working part time in my house…. I just use coconut oil to rub all wooden surfaces. Just pour a few drops on a clean cloth and wipe down all thoroughly.
Regular use will keep them shiny. I don’t like too shiny wood, so use very little oil as it helps replenish wood surfaces and prevents cracking. In effect it makes them last longer.
4. Ketchup or good old tomato sauce.
Tired of noticing all the scratches, scuffmarks, and other blemishes on the interior of your kitchen sink? Apply ketchup to the surface and scrub away. Rinse and repeat until you achieve the desired results. Ketchup is full of vinegar are salt two essential ingredients for cleaning. Yes…the smell of all that ketchup can be quite nauseating but the effort is worth it.
Okay this one for fun! I’m sure you may not want to use your expensive vodka to clean your house. Actually rubbing alcohol picked up from any pharmacy works just as well. Personally I can’t stand the smell of rubbing alcohol. It reminds me of hospitals so I avoid it. You also don’t need to use your most expensive Absolut bottle …any cheap vodka will do!
Because of the high alcohol content this is perfect as a quick disinfectant for all cuts and scrapes but acts very well as a stain remover for grease and oil stains. Oil and grease stains on any fabric come out faster if you spray them with this solution – 2 parts water and one part alcohol. You can always make this and keep in the fridge for emergency stains!
Undiluted rubbing alcohol also removes hard water stains from glass and from taps etc but it is ” hard” work and you have to be at it. Was thrilled to remove some from one of my glass windows but since I haven’t been at it the stains are pretty much back with a vengeance!
I however use any left over vodka to make room fresheners! Just dilute with water in equal measures and put a few drops of your favorite essential oil. My personal favorites are Orange and Lavender. Enthusiastic people can even use fresh lemon, mint, rosemary are any herb. Believe me this smells way better than the sickly floral room fresheners you get in the market.
The good thing about all these ingredients is one you don’t need to stick to a brand …any brand works …cheap or expensive. Two, some, if not all are always lying in your kitchen and even if it doesn’t work the first time you really haven’t lost much. Thirdly and this one is the most important one for me. You can be completely sure that the product is completely safe for kids and animals. They are non-toxic, non carcinogenic, eco friendly and really what else is more important?
Do let me know if you use any home remedies to clean your house. Always looking for new solutions!