If you’re like me, cleaning is a great way to spend a Sunday. Or a Saturday. Or even a Friday night! Which is to say that I love cleaning. It makes me feel clear-headed and virtuous and, okay, I’ll be honest, slightly superior. If, on the other hand, you view cleaning as something to get done, not something to relish, you are probably in the majority.
Either way: Cleaning! It’s part of life. (Unless, of course, you pay someone else to do the dirty work, which is totally legit and totally worth it, but that’s another story.) And the question isn’t really whether you enjoy it or not (you should!), but rather how to do it — and, importantly, with what cleaning supplies.
I am a huge fan of bleach (don’t hold it against me; it is in my genes), but I am also a proponent of making use of things I already have. Salt, often combined with oil, is one of my favorite scouring agents. I also rely on baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar.
Not only are they effective, affordable, and food-safe, but they’re also extremely convenient. As a matter of fact, maybe you have all of them in your pantry already.
4 Pantry Ingredients That Are Also Great Cleaners
Take a look inside your pantry (and your refrigerator) and I’ll bet you have these four ingredients lying around. They’re super common and they also have super cleaning powers — on their own and in combination with each other.
The main reason I use salt to clean is that I have an aversion to scrubby sponges. And sometimes you need a little bit of abrasion. Enter salt, plus whatever oil I have handy (or sometimes leftover bacon fat), and crusty pots be gone! But salt is also great for getting stains and odors out (like baking soda, as it’s absorbant).
2. Baking Soda
Did you know that baking soda is actually a salt? That’s really more of a fun fact, and, word to the wise, you probably don’t want to eat it (although you can!).
Really, the important thing to know about baking soda is that it has a pH that’s slightly alkaline. This means it reacts with acids, like smelly odors, for example, to neutralize them.
Vinegar is your one-stop shop for soap scum, hard-water stains, glue residue, streaks on shiny surfaces, stains of all kinds (including red wine), and stinky odors (like, say, if your dog happens to pee on your carpet). In fact, vinegar is so effective that it’s sometimes too good at its job — so just be careful when using it on delicate fabrics or surfaces and, when in doubt, dilute with water.
My favorite thing about lemons is that they smell amazing. If I clean my cutting board with a half lemon and a bit of salt, my board will smell like a grove of lemon trees (or what I imagine that smells like). But lemons aren’t just good for making things smell delicious; their acidic nature makes them aces at removing rust and limescale. And if you haven’t tried this trick to clean your microwave with just a lemon, you’re missing out.