This works best on proteins, grease, and animal messes. Because it's slightly abrasive, it can be used for scouring -- and, of course, it's a natural deodorizer.
This mild acid works on alkaline substances, dissolving scale, inhibiting mold, and cutting soap scum. It's terrific for stains such as coffee, rust, and tea.
Try castile soap, made with olive oil, or a vegetable-based soap. Both attach to soil at the molecular level, so you can rinse dirt away with water.
Choose a vegetable-based soap to polish wood floors and furniture to a glow. Murphy's Oil Soap, 32 fl. oz., about $5; most grocery stores.
Soft Scrub Add enough soap to 1/8 cup baking soda to make a creamy mixture. Apply with sponge to clean; rinse the surface well. Use and discard.
Appliance Cleaner Dry baking soda shines up small appliances and even removes bread wrappers burned onto the toaster. Try rubbing a teaspoon onto your grubby blender or food processor with a clean flannel cloth.
Toilet Cleaner/Deodorizer Sprinkle toilet bowl with 1/4 cup baking soda. Drizzle with 1/4 cup vinegar, then scour with a toilet brush.
Oven Cleaner Sprinkle oven with 1/2 cup baking soda (more if needed) and spray with water. Let sit for several hours or overnight before scraping up stains and spills. Rinse thoroughly with water.
Hardwood Floor Cleaner In a pail or bucket, mix 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar in one gallon warm water. Mop wood or linoleum floors, then rinse with water, making sure not to leave large pools to dry.
An all-purpose, plant-based cleaner removes grime from almost everywhere -- walls, windows, countertops, and appliances. Shaklee Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate, 64 oz., $42.97; shaklee.com.
Biodegradable scouring powder with mineral abrasives cleans countertops, grout, outdoor furniture, grills, microwave ovens, showers, sinks, and stoves. Bon Ami, 14 oz., about $1.50; most grocery stores.
A nonchlorine oxygen bleach cleanser tackles stains on grout, sinks, bath tubs, and toilets. Jason Heather's Oxygen Bleach Cleanser, 14 oz., $2.39; vitacost.com.
Linda Mason Hunter is a publishing professional specializing in home ecology, residential design, and the art of living in the 21st century. She is also the co-author of Green Clean. Visit her Web site at www.hunterink.com.
Recipes from Green Clean, by Linda Mason Hunter and Mikki Halpin (Melcher Media, 2005; $16.95).