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Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into a bowl. Add just enough liquid soap to make a creamy paste. Spread mixture on the flat side of 1/2 of a lemon and scrub. The lemon acts as a sponge and leaves a natural citrus scent. Use a damp rag or sponge to wipe away any residue. You'll find the paste will stay moist for a few hours.
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For basic nontoxic stain removal, mix up a little grandmother knowledge and apply it liberally. The principles behind creating stain removers -- or nearly all household cleaners -- are relatively simple. Some kinds of stains respond to alkaline minerals such as borax and soap, others to acids like vinegars.
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Vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner; use it straight for tough jobs, or dilute it with water. Tea-tree oil is a natural fungicide and can help disinfect surfaces -- mix 2 teaspoons with 2 cups water. To whiten stained tiles or grout, use a mixture of 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide to 1 cup water. All of these solutions can be sprayed onto a surface, allowed to dry, then wiped with a damp cloth.
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Sometime's it's easier to buy than DIY. These three brands of natural cleaners prove you don't need high-octane chemicals to render a home spic-and-span.
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Vinegar works well on soap scum and mineral deposits, but rinse thoroughly, as it can corrode some fixtures and etch glaze on tiles. You can also try tea tree oil -- 2 drops tea tree oil with 1 cup water -- in a spray bottle. A natural antiseptic and fungicide, tea tree oil costs more than vinegar but will kill most types of mold and help prevent growth; as with all concentrated oils, it should be used with caution, as it can trigger allergic reactions if it comes into contact with skin.
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Pour a small amount of soda water onto a fresh carpet spill, and blot with a towel. Don't rub, as you may mat the fibers. If the stain is set, try hydrogen peroxide: Pour some onto a clean, white cloth, then press cloth to carpet. Wait about 15 minutes, blot with a clean cloth. There should be no need to rinse.
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