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10 Natural (And Vegan) Ways to Clean Your Home

Health + Wellness
10 Natural (And Vegan) Ways to Clean Your Home

Spring has arrived, and it's time to clean the house! But for the conscientious consumer, household cleaning can be a headache. Mass-market products are often full of harsh chemicals that pose a health risk to children and animals. Plus, they leave your home smelling more like a science lab than a fresh space and may contain animal products.

Using a handful of easy-access natural, vegan products, you can have a clean home while cutting down on harmful chemical-based products.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

So let's dispense with them all! Using a handful of easy-access natural, vegan products, you can have a germ-free and fresh-smelling home while cutting down on wasteful, time-consuming specialty cleaning products.

These 10 tips will get you on your way to a spotless home:

Ovens

Cleaning an oven needn't be a hassle or an experiment with your incinerating self-cleaning function. All you need is baking soda and vinegar! Make a spreadable paste of baking soda and water, using roughly one-half of a cup of baking soda and a few tablespoons of water. Leave the mixture overnight. Wipe the paste off with a damp cloth the next day. Then, spray white vinegar over any remaining hard-to-remove baking soda (or just all over the inside of the oven). Wipe the inside of the oven down one more time with a damp cloth, and you're done!

Pro-tips: Clean the racks separately in the sink with the baking soda solution. Also, be mindful not to get baking soda paste on the heating elements in the oven.

Stove-hood filters

For this, you'll need a large pot and baking soda. Fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil. Then slowly add one half-cup of baking soda. If you add it too quickly, the pot will fizz over. Simply submerge the filter and watch the impurities vanish! If you have a large filter, you'll need to do it one side at a time.

Refrigerators and surfaces

Cleaning surfaces is easy with a little vinegar! Use one part vinegar to two parts warm water in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to give a lasting fresh scent. Using warm water is very helpful for breaking up dirt and food stuck on the counter. But the solution is still highly effective at room temperature for lighter cleaning.

Dishwashers

Most people don't realize dishwashers need cleaning. But they do. Cycle after cycle of dirty dishes takes a toll on the filter. Simply find and remove your dishwasher's filter and allow it to soak in your favorite natural dish soap. Then replace the filter, toss in a cup of white vinegar and run a heavy cycle. For an extra level of clean, coat the bottom of the dishwasher in baking soda, leave it for a few hours and run a heavy cycle with just the baking soda.

Toilets

No one likes to reach their hand into a disgusting bowl with a glove, especially when holding a sponge filled with toxic chemicals. Well, you never need to do so again! Toss a full cup of baking soda right into the bowl and leave it for an hour. Then pour in a cup of white vinegar, let it sit for a few minutes and flush. If your bowl needs a light scrubbing for the surfaces, use the cleaner we made in the kitchen!

Showers

Steaming harsh chemical residue post-cleaning is anything but good for your family. And our kitchen surface cleaner from the previous steps may do fine for your shower. But if you need something a little stronger, just mix one part environmentally-friendly dish soap with one-part vinegar to make a simple shower cleaner!

Pro-tip: If you have a litter box in the bathroom, this shower cleaner will work great. As always, be sure to rinse the cat box very thoroughly with water post-cleaning.

Mattresses

This is the easiest hack you never knew would solve your mattress woes: Just sprinkle baking soda all over. Many folks mix a few drops of calming lavender oil in for aromatherapy. Leave the baking soda on the mattress for a couple of hours, then carefully vacuum it all up. Your mattress should smell fresh as new.

For mattress stains, combine hydrogen peroxide and natural dish soap in a 2:1 ratio to safely remove them.

Laundry

Did you know fabric sheets often contain animal-derived softening agents? And we all know the havoc artificially-scented detergents reak on allergies. But making laundry detergent at home is simple: Combine Borax (an easy-to-find mineral and salt, not to be confused with boric acid) and baking soda in equal measures. Then, grate in a full bar of your favorite natural, animal-free bar soap.

Pro-tip: Add a half-cup of white vinegar to the final rinse cycle for color-safe softening.

Floors

The easiest way to maintain your floors is to mop with an equal-parts water and vinegar solution. But for a variety of specific floor types, use this Care2 guide to floor care.

Note about products: Be sure to buy baking soda from an animal and environment-friendly company, like Bob's Red Mill. Visit a local health-conscious grocery store to find an array of cleaning supplies, from tree-fiber scrubbers to agave twine dish sponges.

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A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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