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Gert's Dirt: Safer alternatives to cleaning with chemicals

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opinion Two Harbors,Minnesota 55616
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Gert's Dirt: Safer alternatives to cleaning with chemicals
Two Harbors Minnesota 109 Waterfront Dr. 55616

From Donna Bellino

Last week I shared some information about the use of toxic chemicals in the home. This week let’s take a look at alternatives that are safer for you, your family, pets and the environment. They’ll also save you money.


Because of its acidity, white distilled vinegar, is effective for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs. It is eco-friendly, inexpensive, rinses without streaking, and has so many uses! To get started, mix one part vinegar to two parts water in a spray bottle. Add several drops of essential oil such as orange, lemon, tea tree, grapefruit or lavender if you don’t care for the smell of vinegar. Spray the bathroom sink, tub, shower and countertops and wipe them clean after a few minutes. Hard water stains and soap scum will wash right off.

You probably know you can clean the lime from inside your coffee pot with a mixture of vinegar and water, but did you know that this strategy will also work in your dishwasher? Pour one cup into the dishwasher and run a cycle.

I must share this tip with you: If you have wood furniture that is worn and scratched, mix a tablespoon of vinegar into three tablespoons of olive oil. Use an old cloth to rub the mixture into the wood. Work it in and then wipe away the excess with a clean cloth. You will be amazed how beautiful the wood looks. The uses for vinegar are too many to list!

Lemon juice is also acidic and just like vinegar, it can be used to kill germs and freshen your home. It costs more but smells so good! To clean your microwave, add a slice of lemon to a cup of water and microwave for 45 seconds. The dried-on food can then be easily wiped away. Clean laminate counters and cutting boards by rubbing lemon on them; let them sit for a few minutes, then rinse clean.

Baking soda is a natural abrasive that absorbs odors and removes many stains. It can be used to polish silver, clean your oven or stove top, and freshen the garbage disposal and sink. You may also dissolve a half-cup of baking soda in a bucket of water and wipe down your lawn furniture. Try these tips, too:

Instead of using other cleansers, sprinkle the toilet with baking soda and scrub as usual.

Make a paste with baking soda and a few drops of water. Rub into a stain on a garment.

Soak smelly articles in a bucket with water and 1/4 cup baking soda; wash as usual.

Boost effectiveness of laundry detergent by adding a half-cup of baking soda to each load of laundry.

I hope that these suggestions will help you clean your home and protect your family and the world we live in.

Donna Bellino is a registered nurse and owner of Gertie’s Cleaning and Home Service. I care for you, your health, and your home. Gertie’s: Naturally Clean!