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Front Page » March 24, 2009 » Carbon County News » USU Extension family, consumer sciences agent details hom...
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USU Extension family, consumer sciences agent details homemade cleaning products

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USU Extension writer

Carbon County residents who are looking for ideas to stretch household budgets may want to consider making home cleaning products.

Homemade cleaning products are less toxic, cost less than purchased products and are safe as well as effective, notes Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences agent.

The basic supplies for making cleaning products include baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, cornstarch and salt.

The USU Extension family and consumer sciences agent offers the following information for local residents.

•Baking soda neutralizes acid-based odors in water and adsorbs odors from the air.

Sprinkled on a damp sponge or cloth, baking soda can be used as a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser for kitchen counter tops, sinks, bathtubs, ovens and fiberglass, advises the USU Extension family and consumer sciences agent.

For laundry, people may add up to a cup per load to eliminate perspiration odors and neutralize the smell of chemicals.

Baking soda is also a useful air freshener and carpet deodorizer.

•White vinegar and lemon juice are acidic and neutralize alkaline substances such as scale from hard water.

They are natural cleaning products as well as disinfectants and deodorizers.

Acids dissolve gummy buildup, eat away tarnish and remove dirt from wood surfaces.

Vinegar can be used as a softener in laundry cleaning.

Lemon juice can be mixed with vinegar and baking soda to make a cleaning paste.

•Borax is a natural cleaner and bleach.

Borax can boost other cleaning products. But people should be cautious when using it since it can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation, warns the USU Extension family and consumer sciences agent.

In addition, people should never use borax around food.

Borax should also be kept out of the reach of children and pets.

People should also be sure to rinse borax out of clothes and off surfaces.

•Cornstarch can be used to clean windows, polish furniture and clean carpets.

As a window cleaner, people should use cornstarch with water, vinegar and ammonia.

To use on stains and to polish, local residents should use a mixture of water and cornstarch.

Cornstarch may be sprinkled on carpets to remove stains and odors.

•Salt as a cleaner is one way to be a little "greener" at home, points out the USU Extension family and consumer sciences agent.

It is inexpensive, does not harm the environment and is readily available.

Salt mixtures can remove yellowing, clean tarnish, remove lipstick, get rid of mold and can work as a drain cleaner.

•Liquid dish soaps and detergents are necessary for cutting grease.

But they are not the same thing, explains the USU Extension family and consumer sciences agent. Soap is made from fats and lye. Detergents are synthetic materials.

Unlike soap, detergents are designed specifically so the products don't react with hard water minerals and cause soap scum.

Carbon County residents who have hard water should buy a biodegradable detergent without perfumes. Liquid soap may be used with soft water.

•Additional cleaning products are ammonia and denatured alcohol.

Local residents should be careful not to mix ammonia with a bleach product, warned the USU Extension family and consumer sciences agent.

Mixing the two cleaning products can produce a harmful gas.

The toxic products need to be stored carefully and used in well-ventilated areas.

Local residents should maker certain that all homemade formulas are properly labeled and stored in places that are out of the reach of children.

According to the USU Extension family and consumer sciences agent, there are four general household all-cleaning formulas.

The first formula calls for one tablespoon of ammonia, one tablespoon of detergent and two cups water.

The second involves one cup of vinegar and one gallon water.

The third formula calls for mixing two tablespoons of vinegar and one teaspoon of borax with hot water.

The fourth includes one one-half cup of ammonia, one-fourth cup of vinegar, one-fourth of cup baking soda and one gallon water.

Formulas suggested window cleaning formulas include mixing:
One-half cup of vinegar and one gallon water of two tablespoons to one quart.
One-half cup of ammonia and one gallon water.
One tablespoon ammonia, one tablespoon vinegar and one quart water
Three tablespoons denatured alcohol and one quart water.

The formulas are offered to help minimize the use of toxic substances in homes and reduce the cost of purchasing manufactured cleaning products, indicates the USU Extension family and consumer sciences agent. Results may vary and cannot be guaranteed to be 100 percent safe and effective.

Before applying any cleaning formulation, people should test the performance of all homemade mixtures in small, hidden areas if possible.

Local residents should always exercise caution when utilizing any new products in their homes, concluded the USU Extension agent.

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