A number of readily available products make effective and inexpensive cleaning solutions. Ammonia is one. Mix 2 tablespoons in 1 quart of warm water to clean painted walls, counter tops, and other kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Or use 2 tablespoons vinegar in 1 quart of warm water.
For a strong cleaning solution suited to tough jobs, mix 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 gallon of warm water. Use it on painted walls, vinyl and ceramic tiles, and porcelain tubs and sinks; rinse with water. As with any strong preparation, you should wear rubber gloves and open a window for ventilation while working with it. Store any unused solution in a glass bottle.
To dissolve a thick soap scum around a shower or tub, use a mixture of 1 part deodorized kerosene and 1 part mineral oil. Rinse thoroughly.
An efficient grease cutter and deodorizer, baking soda is less abrasive than commercial cleansers and doesn’t scratch polished surfaces. To clean counter tops and the enamel and chrome on appliances, rub with a paste of baking soda. Rinse thoroughly; polish with a soft, dry cloth. To clean and deodorize the inside of a refrigerator or a cutting surface such as butcher block, sponge with a solution of baking soda and water.
Cleaners for wood
To remove polish buildup on furniture, use a mixture of 1 part vinegar and 1 part water. For cleaning and polishing the wood, mix equal parts of olive oil, denatured alcohol, gum turpentine, and strained lemon juice. Shake well and apply a small amount with a soft, lint-free rag (cheesecloth is ideal). Rub off excess polish with a soft, dry cloth, then buff up a shine with another cloth, preferably of wool. Store this mixture in a tightly sealed glass jar out of children’s reach.
Using spot removers safely
Cleaning solvents, or fluids, are used to remove grease spots, stains, and chewing gum from fabrics, most often from nonwashable material. Keep solvents on hand for treating spots and stains promptly.
Any solvent labeled petroleum distillates or petroleum hydrocarbons is flammable. Nonflammable solvents include triethanolamine, perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and trichloroethane. Commercial products often contain a mixture of flammable and nonflammable types.
Read labels before each use; see if the product is safe for the fabric you’re treating (most cleaning solvents are not safe for rubberized fabrics and certain plastics). Test the solvent on an inconspicuous area to be sure it won’t damage color or leave a ring.
Removing a spot
Place the spot face down on a clean, absorbent cloth. Dampen another cloth slightly with solvent and rub the spot lightly, working from the edges toward the center to avoid spreading it; keep moving the spot over a clean part of the blotting material. Use as
little solvent as possible and let it dry well between applications. It’s better to repeat the process than to flood the spot, which may spread it or leave a ring. Rinse or air the garment as soon as the spot is gone; launder it or have it dry cleaned without delay.
Cleaning solvent dispensed from a spray can is also effective in lifting grease spots. Simply spray, let dry, then brush off the residue.
Caution: Cleaning solvent is a dangerous chemical. Store it out of reach of children. Never transfer it to a container normally used for food, such as a soda bottle or cup. Work in a well-ventilated area. If the solvent is flammable, don’t smoke or work near a stove, active clothes dryer, water heater, or pilot light. Don’t put treated clothes in a clothes dryer or near an oven. If anyone swallows cleaning solvent, call a
physician, hospital, or poison control center immediately.