Perusing the options in the cleaner aisle can be confounding. Do you really need different formulas for your kitchen and bathroom sinks? And what about the shower and bathroom sink? They’re the same material, yet seem to have different cleaning products.

The manufacturers would have you believe that you can’t mix and match rooms, surfaces, and cleaners, but that’s not always true. Here are 4 adaptable cleaning solution hacks that’ll help you get out of the store faster and keep your house clean with no harsh chemicals.

1. White vinegar

This versatile little cleaner can clean (almost) anything. When diluted with a 50/50 water mix, it can be used on virtually any surface in the kitchen or bathroom — from countertops to the toilet bowl to the range and even the floors. Nature’s disinfectant can also help keep colds and flu at bay when you use it to wipe down surfaces like light switches, remotes, and doorknobs. Hot tip: heat it up in the microwave and it will better cut through extra grimy bathroom surfaces.

Undiluted white vinegar can also work magic on your toilet bowl and make showerheads shiny. Place 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vinegar in a plastic bag, attach it to the showerhead with a rubber band, and let it sit for 2 or more hours.

2. Baking soda

Why buy an abrasive scrubbing cream or powder when baking soda does the job so beautifully? Use it to scrub down surfaces like sinks, counters, and even the inside of the refrigerator. You can also sprinkle it on carpets, couches, and other upholstered surfaces to get out musty smells just let it sit for 15 minutes and then vacuum it up. It helps absorb odors in garbage cans and shoes too. Finally, combine it with vinegar to clear out slow drains. The bubbling sound as they react is so, so satisfying.

3. Rubbing alcohol

When you’re shelling out big bucks for window cleaner, this is essentially what you’re buying. Save your money and mix 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol with 1/3 cup vinegar in a 32-ounce spray bottle and fill the rest with water. You can also use it in the laundry room. Rubbing alcohol is great for removing ink stains and ring-around-the-collar.

4. Lemons

Not loving the vinegar smell from your natural cleaning solution? Let life hand you some lemons to make …lemon-scented cleaner. Just let the citrus peels sit in vinegar for a couple of weeks, which will infuse the vinegar with the fresh, clean scent of lemon. Did you see we said “peels?” Yep, you can use the actual juice to make, you know, lemonade, with those lemons life handed you.

Lemons can do some other dandy jobs in the kitchen, like helping clean your wooden cutting boards. Rub your board with salt, then scrub the salted board with a lemon. After letting the lemon and salt mixture sit on it for 5 minutes, you can wipe away the remnants and give the board one last rinse down with a wet sponge. Voilà!

Remember to protect the rest of your house too. Get a free homeowners quote today.

DIY hacks | Home and garden


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.