Graphic. AgriculturesAgriculturesGraphic. Purdue University.

Summer 2000

Home safe home
by Jan Matthew

"The difference is that you're spending 30 minutes instead of three," she says. "The trade off for using natural, homemade recipes is generally more elbow grease or more time. These recipes also require that you be a bit of a chemist and learn to match the right type of cleaner to the specific job."

For Bonnie Taylor, additional time and muscle are worthwhile investments. After attending her Twilight Extension Home maker Club's presentation on alternative household products, Taylor, who lives on a farm in Whitley County, decided to opt for vinegar and baking soda over commercial cleaning products. She cleans iron and calcium deposits on faucets with undiluted vinegar and uses a baking soda and water solution to clean the insides of her refrigerator and home safely.

"I realized I was using a lot of cleaning products as time savers, when I could have been taking a softer, less-intensive route to get the same job done," Taylor says. "I was particularly sensitive to odors in confined spaces, and I always tried to hold my breath when I cleaned the shower. Now, I pay more attention to labels and advertisements, too, since learning about the chemicals used in normal, everyday cleaning products.

Recipes that use vinegar, ammonia and baking soda are easy to find, but Extension educators caution they may not include proportions for mixing or specific directions. They further warn that haphazard mixing of household products can result in cleaners that may actually harm the surfaces they were intended to clean. Proper storagekeeping the mixture in a second, separate containerand clear labeling also are imperative.

In southern Indiana's Brown County, Extension educator Barb Bowman fields frequent calls about mildew, a prevalent pest due to the area's heavily wooded topography. "Mildew typically grows in areas with poor lighting and ventilation," Bowman says. "People generally have questions about bringing out items that have been stored from one season to another, such as clothing or leather goods, but mold also can exist on upholstered articles, rugs, wood and books."

A combination of liquid chlorine bleach (laundry bleach), detergent without ammonia and water effectively cleans mold and mildew, particularly in bath and shower areas, Bowman says.

For storage, try cedar chips instead of moth balls, she suggests. Or, stick cloves into the surface of an apple or orange until it is completely covered. Cover the fruit with a white tissue, let it dry for two weeks and then hang in a closet.

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