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There are many alternatives to using the chemical cleaning products found in regular stores. We have been sold on the idea that getting our house, or sacristy, clean requires products that are harsh or even downright dangerous, but it’s not true.

Water is the best solvent on the planet; it just needs some boosting. Household products such as vinegar, dish washing soap, baking soda, and olive oil can be added to water to replace chemicals. Hydrogen peroxide (oxygenated water) can be used instead of chlorine bleach.

Alternative cleaning products that are plant-based (as opposed to synthetic petroleum chemicals) and non-chlorine bleached paper goods are difficult to find in some towns, but are appearing more widely. Additionally, many main-stream manufacturers are using more plant-based ingredients. Commercial products free of synthetic fragrances and dyes are the best choice when plant-based products are not available.

Look at this as a safety issue: A home is safer when you don’t bring anything dangerous into it, especially products that have a danger or warning label on them. Don’t hesitate to try any “hints” you see that use everyday ingredients. Here are a few to get you started.

House (or Sacristy) cleaning

For a great all-purpose house cleaner, fill a clean quart spray bottle half full with plain white vinegar and add an equal amount of water. Add a squirt or spoonful of dish washing soap, 10 drops or so of essential oils such as orange, lemon, or peppermint to provide a great fragrance. This is very inexpensive to use.

Fill a clean spray bottle with peroxide to use alone or with the vinegar cleaner for sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. (Remember that peroxide bubbles when it finds germs.)

Fill one spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide and another with plain white vinegar. Spray kitchen counters, sinks, and cutting boards with each one. Wipe down or just leave it there. This will kill a lot of germs.

Put baking soda in a herb/spice shaker container and use on stoves, sinks, bath tubs, tires, etc., just as you use Comet or Ajax. It’s amazing how well it cleans greasy, messy pans. Wet the surface first, shake baking soda on generously, and let sit for awhile before scrubbing with a simple plastic scrubber.

To make “soft scrub,” put a spoonful or two of baking soda in a cup and add dish washing soap and a little water until you get a good paste. This is great for bathtubs and showers.

Make a “volcano” in your drains and toilets by putting in one-quarter cup of baking soda followed by a good amount of vinegar (one-half to one cup)—and watch it fizzle! Rinse with hot water.


Get your clothes cleaner; use less laundry detergent. Here’s why. Detergent attracts dirt away from clothes, like a magnet. But if it isn’t all rinsed out then you are not only left with suds, but also the dirt that went with it.

Add one-half cup to one cup baking soda in the wash to soften and help clean.

Put one quarter cup or so of vinegar in a Downey ball© in the laundry rinse cycle to remove any leftover detergent.

For bleaching, use one cup or less of hydrogen peroxide for whites and colors.


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