Our favourite all-natural ingredients for cleaning, as well as a few recipes for good, clean fun.

What includes a sprig of mint, a twist of citrus, and packs a real punch in every room of the house? Here’s a hint: It’s better suited to a spray bottle than a cocktail glass.

We’re talking about DIY all-natural household cleaners, of course — the kind that side-step harsh fumes and chemicals in favour of kitchen staples like vinegar, baking soda, and salt. (Booze and mini umbrellas optional.)

If your home is on the market, you might want to be careful to avoid offending a potential buyer’s sensitivities(ahem, please put down that bottle of industrial-grade bleach). If you rent, you might be looking to save money by making your own cleansers — or maybe you have roommates who can’t stand the smell of that lemon floor cleaner you’ve been using. Either way? These tips are for you.

White vinegar

The granddaddy of natural, eco-friendly cleaners, vinegar is, by definition, a water-based solution containing about 5% acetic acid — a powerful solvent. Translation: The secret ingredient in your mom’s recipe for potato salad spells “lights out” for most bacteria, viruses, mildew, and mould.

  • Concoct an all-purpose cleaner: Fill a spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and water (distilled is best), upping the amount of vinegar for tougher jobs. Spray it anywhere that could use a good cleaning, but steer clear of marble surfaces.
  • Disinfect and deodorize cutting boards: Spray full-strength vinegar onto wood cutting boards, let it sit, then rinse with clean water.
  • Deodorize dishwashers: Add 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle of your dishwasher. The vinegar smell will dissipate, de-stinkifying dishes in the process.
  • Soften clothes and reduce static: Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine in lieu of store-bought fabric softeners.
  • Sweeten garbage disposals: Freeze white vinegar in an ice cube tray and then run the cubes through the garbage disposal to deodorize and clean drains.
  • Remove mineral deposits from showerheads: Unscrew your showerhead, then place it in a plastic zip baggie filled with ½ to 1 cup of warm white vinegar. Let it sit for one hour to remove mineral buildup. For showerheads that can’t be removed, secure the baggie onto the showerhead using a rubber band. (This also works for sink faucets.) Post-soak, use an old toothbrush and a toothpick to further loosen deposits.
  • Clean fresh produce: To help remove pesticide residue, gently wash fruit and vegetables in a solution of 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to a pint of water.
  • Clean your coffeepot: Fill the reservoir of your automatic coffeepot with white vinegar, then allow the machine to go through a brew cycle as usual. Follow the vinegar with two cycles of fresh water to rinse.