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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

The Only 5 Cleaning Supplies You Need (and 40 Things You Can Do With Them)

This article is from our friends at LearnVest, a leading site for women and their money.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by cleaning products.

Glass cleaner, floor cleaner, bathroom cleaner, stovetop cleaner, disinfectant, deodorizer… each one has a never-ending list of chemicals, insisting you need it for the task at hand.

But do you need it, really?

Nope. Instead of spending on cabinets full of specific, expensive (and toxic) cleaning products, you can use these five basic supplies to cover 40 different household tasks, from removing tea stains to getting rid of ants.

  • Baking soda
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Pads (the brand name for melamine foam pads, which are non-toxic and can be purchased at a discount in bulk)
  • Below, we’ve listed each product with the tasks it accomplishes. Now, you’ll have a much nicer problem to tackle: What will you do with all that empty cabinet space—not to mention the money you’ve saved?

    Baking Soda

    • Keep bouquets fresh by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water at the bottom of a vase.
    • Remove grease from baking sheets by combining baking soda with hydrogen peroxide and scrubbing (detailed instructions here).
    • Ward off mustiness in your linen closet by placing an open box of baking soda in the back.
    • Dust your mattress with baking soda to remove dirt and moisture (detailed instructions here).
    • Eliminate fridge odors by placing an open box of baking soda on the back shelf.
    • Relieve baby’s diaper rash by adding 2 tablespoons of baking soda in the little one’s bath water.
    • Polish your own silver with a solution of salt, baking soda, and hot water (detailed instructions here).
    • Clean your toilet bowl by scrubbing it with a two-to-one ratio of baking soda and olive oil.
    • Make an anti-itch ointment for insect bites, poison ivy, or rashes by mixing baking soda with water.
    • White Vinegar

      • Deodorize your kitchen drain by flushing it weekly with white vinegar (detailed instructions here).
      • Tie a baggie full of white vinegar around your shower head to remove grime and built-up  residue in an hour (detailed instructions here).
      • Add a cup of white vinegar to your dishwater and soak for 20 minutes to shine glassware.
      • Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water to wash windows.
      • Clean your dishwasher by getting rid of detergent buildup and hardwater stains: Pour 1 cup of white vinegar into your dishwasher and run on empty with hot water (detailed instructions here).
      • Get rid of ant infestations by spraying ants with a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar.
      • Soften and freshen laundry by adding white vinegar to the wash water (detailed instructions here).
      • Clean chandeliers by creating a spray out of water and white vinegar (detailed instructions here).
      • Ammonia

        • To clean jewelry, soak in a solution of one part ammonia and one part cold water.
        • To clean grease from stove burners: Place the burners in a Ziploc bag with 1/4 cup ammonia and let sit overnight (detailed instructions here).
        • Remove scuff marks and dirt from white shoes by scrubbing with a solution of equal parts water and ammonia.
        • Lift carpet stains by spraying with a 50/50 mixture of ammonia and hot water (detailed instructions here).
        • Wash bathroom and kitchen tile floors with a solution of water and ammonia (detailed instructions here).
        • To shine crystal, mix two cups water with a few drops ammonia and wipe. Rinse with cold water.
        • Remove sweat stains from clothing by dabbing with ammonia before washing (detailed instructions here).
        • Clean hairbrushes by soaking in a mixture of 1/4 cup ammonia and one cup water.
        • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

          • Remove marks and fingerprints from walls.
          • To clean leather car seats, saturate Mr. Clean pad with water, making sure to squeeze out any excess, then gently rub onto leather.
          • Remove tea stains from mugs and teapots by rubbing with a damp Mr. Clean pad. Rinse clean and dry.
          • Remove adhesive residue left by stickers by rubbing with an eraser.
          • Apply the eraser to porch columns and gutters to remove mildew and moss residue.
          • Remove water rings from wood by dabbing the spot with mayonnaise, then wiping with a Mr. Clean pad (detailed instructions here).
          • Apply to plastic toys to disinfect, rinsing well with water afterwards.
          • Use on your car to clean the steering wheel and dashboard (detailed instructions here).
          • Liquid Dish Soap

            • Kill weeds in your sidewalk by mixing 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap with 1 gallon of white vinegar and 1 cup salt. Pour the solution onto weeds.
            • Make your own icepack that stays colder longer than regular icepacks by filling a Ziploc bag with dish soap and freezing for at least half an hour.
            • To wash cloth diapers, add a few drops of dish soap to your washer and run with hot water (detailed instructions here).
            • Prevent car repair tools from rusting by soaking them in a mixture of dish soap and water.
            • Wash ceramic and linoleum floors by adding a drop of dish soap into cold mop water. (Don’t use on hardwood floors!)
            • Prevent eyeglasses from fogging up by rubbing a small drop of dish soap to lenses. It will leave a small layer of film that prevents them from fogging.
            • Create a powerful DIY cleaner for showers and bathtubs by combining white vinegar and dish soap (detailed instructions here).
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              • Photo of woman cleaning courtesy of Shutterstock.