Cleaning Products, Courtesy of Your Pantry

White vinegar, baking soda, kosher salt -- so many pantry staples can pull double-duty as household cleaners. Once you give these ingredients a try as a stand-in for a cleaner, you'll be looking at your pantry ingredients in a whole new light!

Soap scum, stains, odors, and other common cleaning conundrums can be remedied with five household ingredients you already have in your pantry. Clean your entire home frugally with the same ingredients you cook with!

1. White Vinegar

Your house doesn't have to smell like a pickle when you clean with vinegar. Add essential oils to your concoction or make your own scented vinegar with citrus to cut the smell. Regardless of where you stand on the smell, vinegar is an excellent household cleaner.

  • Carpet: Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in your carpet cleaner, or pour a small amount directly on carpet stain. Blot with a white cloth.
  • Washing machine: Add 3/4 cup white vinegar to your washing machine and run empty on the cleaning or on the hot/sanitize cycle.
  • Coffeemaker: Mix equal parts cold water and white vinegar in the coffee carafe. Pour in the water dispenser, brew, and empty pot. Then repeat two to three times with cold water until the vinegar smell dissipates.
  • Toilets: Mix 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup white vinegar in the toilet. Allow to soak for at least 15-30 minutes, scrub, and flush.
  • Glass cleaner: Combine 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Spray on glass and wipe clean with a dry cloth.
  • Hardwood floors: Check out these three ways to clean hardwood floors with careful combinations of water, vinegar, and essential oils.

More helpful vinegar tips.

2. Kosher Salt

Grab that big blue box of kosher salt next time you need a little muscle behind your cleaning. It's great for cleaning stuck-on food from pots, pans, and stove accessories. Mix it with a little water to make a paste, apply, scrub, and rinse clean.

  • Stove grates: Baked-on food remnants and grime don't stand a chance! Make a paste with water, baking soda, and a little kosher salt. Dampen grates and apply the paste with a damp cloth or sponge, rub in to remove grease and food, and rinse clean.
  • Cast iron: Dampen a cast-iron pan, sprinkle kosher salt in the bottom, scrub with a scrub brush, rinse clean, and dry thoroughly.

3. Baking Soda

That little orange box in your pantry can do so much more than help your banana bread rise or make your child's science fair volcano explode. There isn't a room in your house that this cleaning workhorse can't contribute to. Baking soda is a remarkable cleaning solution for tasks like removing baked-on food, freshening up your home's stinky areas, and polishing your sink. Check out your favorite warehouse store for oversize bags of baking soda -- it's a great way to save money on this versatile ingredient.

  • Sinks: Sprinkle in your sink with a squirt of dish soap, then scrub and rinse.
  • Carpet and mattresses: Stubborn smells in carpet and mattresses just need a little sprinkle of baking soda. Let it sit for up to an hour and vacuum up.
  • Disposal: Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup lemon juice to make a pasty liquid. Pour down the disposal and let sit for five minutes. Run the disposal with cold water for up to one minute.

More ideas for cleaning with baking soda.

4. Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar isn't just for stabilizing egg whites and adding to sugar cookies. Use this baking staple with a little water, lemon juice, or -- if you need to whiten -- hydrogen peroxide. Simply use a tablespoon or two and mix with your desired liquid to make a paste.

  • Grout: Make a paste with one tablespoon of cream of tartar mixed with water or lemon juice. Apply with a scrub brush (grout and sinks) or a soft sponge for smooth surfaces.
  • Small stainless-steel appliances: Apply the paste to a damp sponge and wipe in the direction of the grain. Rinse with a clean sponge and dry thoroughly.
  • Dingy dishes: Stains inside of coffee and tea cups and silverware scrapes will disappear quickly with a little paste and a sponge or scrub brush.

5. Lemons

Lemons and lemon juice aren't just for cooking and lemonade -- they have some excellent cleaning properties, too. The next time you have a couple on hand see how you can put them to use cleaning.

  • Cutting boards: Slice lemon in half, sprinkle a little kosher salt on the lemon or board and rub in the direction of the wood.
  • Soap scum: Slice in half, rub the fruit side on any faucet that has soap scum, then rinse and dry.
  • White clothing: Soak dingy whites in 1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice with water, and launder as usual. Lemon juice can also be added to the washing machine instead of bleach to whiten.

More ideas for cleaning with lemons.

More DIY Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Get a squeaky-clean home with items you already own!


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