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February: Home Hacks

Everything old is new again

Doesn’t it seem like the cleaning-product aisle in the grocery store is getting longer and fuller? And don’t you sometimes feel like you need a science degree to decipher the labels on products?

Meanwhile, scientists and researchers are finding new ways to create and market more what our grandmother already knows — natural ingredients and techniques to clean our homes. No labels are required on grandma’s vinegar mixture to clean windows. Here are our favorite home-cleaning hacks that are truly all-natural and eco-friendly. (Source:

Mildew-y grout

Basil is a natural antiseptic with anti-fungal properties. Dilute a few drops of basil oil with water for use on tiles and grout (after checking the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions). The bonus is the kitchen will smell great after!


Place a bowl of water in the microwave, set to high to three minutes and leave the door closed for a few minutes afterward to let the steam work its magic. When you open the door, it should be easy to wipe off cooked-on splatters.


Give your dishwasher a monthly maintenance clean by pouring two cups of vinegar onto the bottom of the empty machine and running a sanitize or hot cycle.

All-purpose cleaner

Clean an empty standard spray nozzle bottle, like an old Windex bottle you would otherwise throw out. Fill it with a few tablespoons of Castile soap, 10 drops or so of tea tree oil, and enough water to top it off. You can use it for everything from wiping down counters and sinks to cleaning up spills.

Red wine stains on carpet:

There’s always the old “white wine takes out red wine” trick, or pour salt on the wet red wine stain then leave it overnight to vacuum up the next day.

Soap-isticated suds

Castile soap is an amazingly versatile vegetable-based soap that’s made free of animal fats and synthetic ingredients. This natural, nontoxic, biodegradable soap is available in bar or liquid form. Castile soap was made in the Mediterranean area before its use spread to Europe. Locally, check out Fresh Market for Dr. Bronner’s.