comscore How to clean your home using natural ingredients | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

How to clean your home using natural ingredients


    Cleaning products Brillo, Woolite, Tide and Ajax photographed in New York in 2010.

In the late 1950s and 1960s June Cleaver and Donna Reed ruled over fantasy homes in which there was virtually no dirt. That relentlessly home-sweet-home fantasy shifted in the 1980s with “Roseanne,” and more recently “Mom” and “Modern Family.”

But still, you rarely see anyone on TV scrubbing floors, scouring tubs or seriously de-greasing a stovetop (unless it’s for laughs).

Nonetheless, chances are you’ve got plenty of high-powered cleaning supplies under your sink. The average American household spends around $160 a year on bleach-based and antibacterial products, aerosol sprays and powdered cleaners filled with noxious fumes and toxic chemicals that linger in your air longer than you can imagine.

How harmful are they? A new 20-year study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that frequent housecleaners — whether they do it for a living or for themselves — experience lung damage equivalent to a 20-year, pack-a-day cigarette habit.

Fortunately, alternatives do exist.

>> Vinegar: Eradicates scum, grease, grime. Spray on shower tiles; let sit for 30 minutes; rinse. Wash linoleum with vinegar-water mixture. It works on windows, too!

>> Salt: A natural abrasive. Use Kosher salt and the juice of half a lemon on cutting boards to clean deeply.

>> Baking soda: A proven virus-killer, it deodorizes and cuts through grime. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 1/4 cup vinegar to clean toilets and drains.

>> Straight lemon juice: Kills mold and mildew.

>> Grapefruit extract: Combine 20 drops with two cups of water in a spray bottle to clean all your surfaces.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to

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