Welcome to Your Weekend Project, featuring how-tos and ideas from our archives for an organized and inspired home.
Open an under-the-sink cabinet and you’ll likely find a hodgepodge of half-empty plastic bottles: countertop sprays, floor cleaners, shower cleaners, and more. Do you really need all these products? In our opinion, the answer is no. Embrace a simpler approach and banish the single-purpose cleaning supplies; the result is less clutter, fewer chemicals, and a home that’s every bit as clean as you’d like it to be.
I like to keep a few hardworking ingredients on hand: castile soap, tea tree oil, white vinegar, baking soda, and coconut oil, which I mix and match to create natural cleaning formulas. Here are three effective cleaning recipes that I stand by.
Photography by Erin Boyle from Simple Matters.
1. All-Purpose Cleaner
I attach a standard spray nozzle to an old glass vinegar bottle. Fill it with a few tablespoons of castile soap (a 16-ounce bottle of unscented Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap is $10.99 from Dr. Bronner’s), 10 drops or so of tea tree oil (a four-ounce bottle of Tea Tree Oil is $12.45 from Amazon), and enough water to top it off. I use it for everything from wiping down counters and sinks to cleaning up spills.
2. Stainless Steel Polish
Anyone with stainless appliances knows that it takes some work to keep them gleaming. There are lots of products on the market for this purpose, but a teaspoon of coconut oil is by far the cheapest, easiest, and most effective. Use a clean rag to apply a small amount of coconut oil directly to the steel. Work the oil into the appliance until streaks and stains disappear. Give one last wipe down with an oil-free rag and step back to admire the gleam.
3. Sticky Residue Remover
I’ve spent more time than I care to admit scraping off the last bits of label gunk on glass jars or bottles I plan to repurpose. Here’s my solution: Mix together equal parts baking soda and coconut oil to form a thick paste. Apply directly to the sticky mess and rub with a warm rag until the residue slips away.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original ran on March 4, 2016.
For more domestic science stories, read:
- Domestic Science: How to Clean a Washing Machine
- How to Do Laundry Like the French (Yes, They Do It Better!)
- Expert Advice: Our Editors’ Most Pressing Cleaning Questions, Answered (Including How to Clean Stainless Steel Surfaces)