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by on April 30, 2014 10:49 AM

Have you checked the list of ingredients on those bottles of cleaning products under the sink? Can you even pronounce them? Yikes! I can tell you that a product name containing “petro” belongs at the gas station, not used to clean your home.

Today I want to share with you a list of squeaky-clean, toxin-free cleaning tips using the three items very likely found in your kitchen at this moment — baking soda, white vinegar and lemons.

Clean up the coffee maker

Get your coffee maker back into new condition by running a cycle using white vinegar in place of water. The vinegar will break up mineral build-up and deodorize the machine at the same time. Be sure to rinse out every trace of vinegar before brewing up your next pot, by running plain water through it a few times.

Vacuum up dander

If you have pets, you have no idea what is lurking in your carpeting. We’re talking dander and hairballs, and other things not so lovely. So do this: Sprinkle a little baking soda across your carpet and wait 15 minutes while it works its magic. Next, vacuum (you remember my favorite vacuum, right? the areas where you’ve sprinkled the baking soda. You’ll be shocked and amazed at how much more pet dander is pulled out of the carpet and how fresh your home smells afterward. Unless you’re getting rid of the pets anytime soon, you’ll want to do this vacuuming trick often.

Wash the washer

Get rid of the musty smell in your washing machine by adding white vinegar to a load of wash. It will pull that stinky smell right out. Added bonus: Vinegar also acts as a wonderful and completely natural fabric softener.

Deodorize the disposal

If your stinky disposal is setting off odor alarms in your kitchen, toss a handful or two of ice down the disposal, throw in a couple of lemon wedges and turn it on. The ice chunks will clear out any gunk hanging around and the lemon will deodorize and clean.

Nuke the microwave

Deodorize and clean your microwave with nothing more than two tablespoons of baking soda and a cup of water. Combine the two in a bowl, microwave for three minutes on full power. Remove the bowl (it will be hot, so be careful!) and wipe out the interior. Done. Clean!

Clean the toilet

This is so easy. Toss a cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl. Let it soak for an hour. Next add one cup of white vinegar. Wait 10 more minutes. Flush. Toilet clean without scrubbing! Hint: Use a toilet brush for an occasional scrub of the spots under the rim.

Mary invites questions at, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at
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