Written by Grove Collaborative

From A to Z: How to clean everything in your house — naturally.

Last Updated: January 29, 2021

From cleaning out your air conditioner to zapping household pests, our A to Z cleaning guide will help you tackle your home's dirtiest messes, naturally.

Over time, conventional cleaning products can cause or contribute to serious health problems, and their devastating impact on wildlife and the environment is well-documented. Switching to natural cleaning products is one of the best things you can do to protect your family and the environment from harm, so we’re here to show you how you can make just about everything in your home sparkle naturally — no toxic chemicals required.


Each year, Americans spend a staggering $3.5 billion on household cleaning supplies — not including the $7.3 billion we plunk down for laundry detergent. In a recent survey cited in the Harvard Business Review, 65 percent of Americans say they want to buy sustainable cleaning products, yet only 26 percent actually do so. Indeed, in 2019, natural household cleaners accounted for just 28 percent of the cleaning products market. If you’re on the fence about natural, afraid that non-toxic and less-toxic cleaners aren’t powerful enough — or that they’re too expensive or hard to find — this A to Z natural cleaning guide is for you.




A is for all-clean air conditioner

Your window air conditioner is probably dirtier than you think. Each spring, follow these steps to get it ready for the cooling season.

Step one

Unplug the air conditioner.

Step two

Wipe down the front of the unit — including the grimy buttons — with a damp microfiber cloth sprayed with natural all-purpose cleaner.

Step three

If you can pull off the front panel, do so. Spray the inside of the panel with the natural cleaner, and wipe it down. If the grill is fixed, use cotton swabs to clean these areas. Vacuum with the crevice tool to remove dust in places you can’t reach.

Step four

Find the filter — it’ll be behind the grill, or it may slide out from the side. Vacuum it, and if it’s still grimy, wash it with warm water and a mild, natural dish detergent, rinse well, and let it air-dry before you put it back. If your filter isn’t washable — or it’s beyond hope — order a replacement.

Step five

If your A/C unit has a drain pan, remove it, and wash it with natural dish soap and water. Check the drain opening or hose for obstructions.

Step six

If you can access the back of the air conditioner from outside, clean the coils. Fill a spray bottle with water, and mix in a few drops of a natural dishwashing liquid. Spray the fins with the solution and use an old toothbrush to gently loosen grime. Lightly spray with plain water to rinse.

B is for banishing bacteria from your bedding

“B” is also for “bugs”— namely, microscopic dust mites that live where you sleep and poop out highly allergenic droppings. Clean your mattress and pillows twice a year, and wash your bedding at least every two weeks.

Mattress

Vacuum the mattress. Gently rub stains in a circular motion with a microfiber cloth dipped in a solution of water and a few drops of mild, natural detergent. Dip a clean section of the cloth in plain water, and dab the spots to rinse. Sprinkle baking soda all over the mattress, let it sit for an hour or two to absorb moisture and odors, then vacuum thoroughly again.

Bedding

Wash your bedding in hot water, and dry it on high heat to kill germs and dust mites.

Pillows

Fluff your pillows every day. Each month, hang them outside in the sunshine to naturally freshen and disinfect them. If they’re down- or polyester-filled, you can wash them, two at a time, on the shortest, gentlest setting, with a small amount of natural laundry detergent. Toss them in the dryer with a couple of towels and two tennis balls or dryer balls to speed up drying and prevent clumping. Take dry-clean-only pillows to the cleaners twice a year.

Read more

Baseboards

If you’re looking for the best and easiest way to clean your baseboards, use our easy to follow guide.


Read More

Bathtubs

It may seem straightforward, but getting your tub gleaming with minimal effort involves a few tricks of the trade.


Read More

Brass

Learn how to clean brass effectively and bring back its luster and shine! Read our helpful guide for tips and tricks.


Read More

Baby toys

We’re listing our favorite easy and natural ways on how to clean baby toys so your little one can play safely and germ-free!


Read More

C is for cleaning the ceiling fan

Since you can’t see the top of your ceiling fan blades, dust can build up in a thick layer that you don’t notice until it eventually rains down on you — so make a point to clean your blades every few months.

Step one

Lay down an old sheet under the ceiling fan to catch the dust. You might want to wear a dust mask for this.

Step two

Climb on a step ladder so you can reach the blades. If they’re really dirty, grab an old pillowcase, slide it over each blade, and wipe the top so the dust falls into the pillowcase.

Step three

Spray the top of each blade with a natural, all-purpose cleaner to loosen stubborn dirt. Wipe the blades clean with a microfiber cloth — rinse it often.

Step four

Wipe down the fan’s housing with the microfiber cloth.

Step five

Shake out the dusty pillowcase and sheet outside, and toss them in the washing machine.

GROVE SUSTAINABILITY TIP

C is for clockwise in cold weather

A switch at the top of your ceiling fan controls the direction of the blades. In the winter, reverse the direction to clockwise to distribute the warm air near the ceiling throughout the room — keeping you warmer at lower thermostat settings.

D is for de-fuzzing the dryer vent

A clogged dryer vent is a fire hazard, and it reduces the drying power of your machine. You can prevent these problems by cleaning out your dryer vent every three months.

Step one

Unplug the dryer, and pull it away from the wall.

Step two

Disconnect the flexible dryer hose from the vent hole in the back of the unit. If you can, also disconnect the hose where it meets the wall. You may need a screwdriver to loosen the clamp that holds the hose in place.

Step three

Vacuum in and around the vent holes on the dryer and the wall with the hose attachment. Thoroughly vacuum the inside of the dryer hose — replace it if it’s caked with lint.

Step four

Reconnect the hose to the back of the dryer and the wall. Plug the dryer back in.

Step five

Head outside to the exterior vent. Remove the cover, and use an extendable vent brush to remove lint stuck to the walls. Vacuum as far as you can reach, and replace the cover.


Read more:

Dishwasher

Deodorant stains

E is for exorcising dust from electronics

Your electronic devices attract dust — and the keys, buttons, and remotes are filthy and germy. Here’s how to clean them without damaging them.

Screens

Use a dry microfiber cloth to gently dust your LCD and touch screens, moving in one direction and working from top to bottom. Tough spot? Spray a corner of the cloth with a little water, rub the spot lightly, and dry. Still not good? Spray a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water on the cloth, and repeat. Never spray liquid directly on your screens.

Keyboards and remotes

Unplug the keyboard or laptop — or remove batteries from the remote — and turn it upside down to remove crumbs. A can of compressed air — or your blow dryer on a cool setting — helps things along. Clean the tops of the keys with a microfiber cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol, and clean around the keys with an alcohol-dampened cotton swab.

Vented electronics

Your VCR, PC case, and other vented electronics collect a lot of dust, so wipe them down frequently with a dry microfiber cloth. If the vent is super dusty or grimy, unplug the device, and vacuum the vent with the crevice attachment.

GROVE SUSTAINABILITY TIP

Eliminate energy excesses

Your electronic devices and phone chargers continue to use electricity even when they’re turned off. Plug your electronics into a power strip, and turn it off when they’re not in use. Unplug your phone charger when you’re done with it.

F is for freeing faucets from limescale

Mineral deposits that build up on sink, shower, and tub faucets are unsightly, and if you let them go too long, they can be tough to get rid of. The good news is that plain old white vinegar is a strong enough acid to dissolve calcium.

Step one

If possible, remove the faucet components, including the shower head aerator — the thing with the holes, which probably unscrews. Place them in a container, and cover them with white vinegar.

Step two

If you can’t remove the components, fill a plastic bag with vinegar, and tie it onto the faucet so the buildup is fully immersed. Walk away. Give it as much time as you’ve got, ideally overnight.

Step three

Remove the components from the vinegar, and rinse. Take an old toothbrush to stubborn crumbs left behind. Does it need more work? Repeat the process until the calcium is gone.

GROVE CLEANING TIP

Keep faucets unfettered with soft water

Hard water has high levels of dissolved calcium salts, which build up to cause limescale. Consider a water softening system, which will also reduce mineral buildup inside your pipes and water heater.

G is for gorgeous, gunkless grout

Grimy grout makes your tile floor look dingy and dirty. Brighten it up with natural, all-purpose cleaner or ingredients you have right in your kitchen. Our detailed guide, Clean Team: How to Clean Grout, offers step-by-step instructions, plus several natural cleaner recipes and helpful tips and tricks. Here’s the gist:


  • Spray down the grout with hot water to soften the grime.
  • Scrub the grout with a stiff-bristled brush to remove dirt that will block the cleaner.
  • Apply your choice of natural cleaner to the grout, and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  • Scrub the grout again, and rinse thoroughly with a wet microfiber cloth or mop.

H is for hygienic hardwood floors

Hardwood floors attract dust, which causes microscopic scratches that dull the finish. Daily dust-mopping helps, but every now and then, your wood floors need a good wet-mopping to get rid of grime and germs. But we’re not swabbing the deck here — wood floors require a more careful approach to mopping, which we explain in detail in our epic treatise, Clean Team: How to Clean Wood Floors. Most importantly:


  • Know what NOT to put on your wood floors. Many conventional wood floor cleaners contain ingredients — including vinegar, silicones, waxes, soaps, and oils — that eat away at the finish, leave residue and streaks behind, or make the floor impossible to recoat. Never steam-clean a wood floor.
  • Choose a natural wood floor cleaner without synthetic ingredients.
  • Use a damp microfiber mop — never a wet one — to clean your wood floors.
  • Spritz the cleaner on the floor in a heavy mist, working in small sections.
  • Mop in the direction of the wood grain.

I is for immaculate ice

If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned your automatic ice maker, your iced drinks may taste or smell funny. That’s a clear sign your favorite appliance is in bad need of some TLC.


Step one

Unplug the fridge. Don’t worry — this won’t take long, so nothing will melt or thaw.

Step two

Remove the ice cube bin, and dump out the stinky ice. Add a squeeze of natural dish soap or a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to a sinkful of warm water, and wash the bin with a microfiber cloth. Rinse it well, and set it aside to dry.

Step three

Use a warm, wet cloth to melt any ice that’s frozen to the ice maker. Wipe down the ice maker as far as you can reach with a 1:1 solution of water and distilled white vinegar. Use an old toothbrush to reach into the crevices.

Step four

Replace the ice maker’s water filter. If you can’t find it, refer to your manual. Twist and pull to remove the old filter, then insert the new filter, and twist it into place.

Step five

Replace the bin. Plug the fridge back in, and let the ice maker do its thing for three cycles, then toss those ice cubes. You’re done for now — but you should do it all again in three to six months.

Read more:

Ink stains

J is for jilted junk

We’ve all got a drawer in the kitchen that holds the shrapnel of our lives: Outdated remotes, keys to who-knows-where, pieces of who-knows-what. You know it’s time to clean the junk drawer when you have to use your best kickboxing move to close it. Here’s how to get it under control:

  1. Dump the entire contents of the drawer on the table or floor.
  2. Toss out the garbage.
  3. Set aside everything that belongs somewhere else.
  4. Sort what’s left into categories.
  5. Clean out the empty drawer with a natural, all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloth. If you have a drawer organizer, wash it in warm, soapy water.
  6. If you don’t have a drawer organizer, get one — or use a muffin tin or assorted bins.
  7. Return the flotsam and jetsam to the drawer, keeping similar items together.
  8. Put away the set-aside items that belong elsewhere.

Clean out your junk drawer at the beginning of each season to keep it from turning on you.


Also read:

Jetted tub

K is for killing germs naturally in the kitchen & bath

Frequently disinfect oft-touched surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom to kill germs that can make you sick. Happily, disinfectants don’t have to be poisonous to protect you from harmful microbes — try these natural-born killers instead.

Thymol

Thymol is derived from thyme and a handful of other plants. The EPA has approved several thymol-based cleaners with a concentration of 0.05 percent. To kill the touted 99.9 percent of germs, thymol products should be in contact with the surface for 10 minutes, including drying time. Learn more about thymol from our Grove resident expert, Clem Choy, Ph.D.

Isopropyl alcohol

For highly effective household disinfecting, the CDC recommends a spray of at least 70 percent isopropyl alcohol — better known as rubbing alcohol. You can buy it at your local drugstore and pour it into a spray bottle, or you can buy it as a spray. Allow the alcohol to sit on the surface for 30 seconds before wiping dry.

Hydrogen peroxide

A 0.03 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide — the stuff you pour into wounds for maximum pain — is an effective disinfectant. If it’s heated to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, you only need to leave it on the surface for one minute. If it’s room temperature, leave it on for 10.

GROVE CLEANING TIP

Kibosh the dirt, then kill the germs

Before you disinfect a surface, clean it with a natural, all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth. Cleaning a surface before disinfecting it removes interfering dirt, lowers the number of germs, and boosts the effectiveness of the disinfectant, according to the CDC.

L is for luminous lights

Light fixtures of all kinds seem to gather dust faster than anything else, so a weekly dusting with a microfiber or electrostatic cloth will keep your lights clean and bright. Once or twice a year, give your fixtures a deeper clean, like so:

Cloth lamp shades

Unplug the lamp, and remove the shade. Use a dry microfiber cloth to gently remove dust inside and out — start at the top, and work your way to the bottom. To remove a stain, add warm water to a couple drops of mild, natural laundry detergent. Dip a microfiber cloth in the resulting suds, and apply to the stain in small, circular motions. Dip the cloth in clean water, and dab to rinse.

Glass ceiling fixtures

Turn off the light. Ascend a step ladder, and unscrew the light fixture. Put the hardware in your pocket. Descend the ladder, and dump the dirt and dead bugs from the fixture into the trash. Wash the fixture in warm, soapy water, and dry it thoroughly. Before you reinstall it, dust the bulb and the base with a dry microfiber cloth.

Chandeliers

Mix two parts water and one part vinegar in a spray bottle. Turn off the light. Climb up a step ladder to spray the components of the chandelier in sections, and dry immediately with a microfiber cloth. If you have to take down and disassemble the chandelier to clean it, take a picture so you remember how it goes back together.

Recessed lights

Turn off the lights, and when the bulbs are cool, carefully climb up, remove them, and dust them with a damp microfiber cloth. Wipe the inside of each fixture with the cloth — avoid the socket! — and replace the bulbs.

M is for making the microwave immaculate

It doesn’t take long for the inside of the microwave to get splattered with sauce and gunked up with grease. Here’s the right way to clean it.

Step one

Loosen up all that crud. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine a cup of water, the juice and chunks of half a lemon, lime, or orange, and a splash of vinegar. Heat on high until it boils and steams up the window. Don’t open the door for five minutes.

Step two

Carefully remove the hot bowl, and set it aside. Soak the glass plate in a sink of hot, soapy water while you attack the grime inside the microwave with a damp microfiber cloth — rinse it often with hot water. You don’t need to use a cleaning product, but if it makes you feel better, spray a little natural all-purpose cleaner on the cloth.

Step three

Wash the glass plate by hand. Use a pan scraper to remove stuck-on globs. Dry the plate, and return it to the microwave.

Step four

Spray a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water on the inside and outside of the door to loosen grease and grime. While it works, dip the microfiber cloth in the vinegar solution, and clean the control panel and the rubber gasket around the door. Rinse the cloth, then wipe the door and window clean.

N is for natural cleaners

It’s a sad myth that you need harsh chemicals to get your home truly clean. The truth is, natural cleaners contain ingredients that do the same exact things as the harmful stuff in the conventional cleaners. Plant-based emollients, preservatives, fragrances, and detergents are just as effective as — but far less dangerous than — industrial chemicals found in conventional household cleaners.


Nine nifty reasons to love natural cleaners:


  • Non-toxic/biodegradable
  • Better for the environment
  • Better for aquatic critters
  • Better for humans and their furry roommates
  • Cruelty-free
  • Naturally scented with safe, aromatic plant oils
  • Usually come in minimal, eco-friendly packaging
  • Companies who create natural alternatives typically give back
  • Gentler on skin — and home

GROVE CLEANING TIP

New to natural?

Thinking about making the switch to natural cleaners but don’t know where to start? Grove has a guide for that: Our Beginner’s Guide to Switching to Natural Cleaning Products. (Of course we do!) You’ll also find our store full of tons of pre-vetted natural cleaners, beauty and body care products, and other eco-friendly solutions for a clean, green, healthy home.

O is for orderly oven

Make your cooker shine without using an odious stew of caustic poisons with unpleasant consequences. Believe it or not, you can get your oven perfectly clean with plain old baking soda.

Oven-cleaning basics:

  • The racks: Remove and soak in hot, soapy water, then scrub, rinse, and let dry before returning to the oven.
  • The interior: Vacuum any loose debris, then apply a baking soda paste and let sit for 12 hours. Spray down with vinegar, wipe down, and repeat.
  • The exterior: Give the outside of the oven a once-over with your cleaner of choice and a microfiber cloth.

For the full step-by-step rundown of how to clean your oven, including what cleaning supplies you’ll need, check out Clean Team: How to Clean an Oven.


Also read:

Oil stains

P is for pro-environment polishing

Conventional metal polishes can cause respiratory problems, and they’re hard on the environment. Luckily, you probably have everything you need right in your kitchen cupboards to get your metals gleaming again.

Copper

Rub a salt-and-vinegar paste onto the copper with a microfiber cloth. Let it sit for a few minutes, then buff it to a shine with a clean microfiber cloth. If your copper is heavily tarnished, put it in a pot, and cover it with three cups of water, a cup of vinegar, and a tablespoon of salt. Boil until the tarnish falls away, let it cool, then rinse and buff.


Stainless steel

Spray your stainless steel surface with straight, white vinegar. Let it sit for a minute, then wipe clean with a microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain. To polish, dip a portion of your microfiber cloth in a bit of olive oil, rub the surface in the direction of the grain, and buff away excess oil.


Got tarnished silver or brass? The Grove Clean Team has you covered with these super-comprehensive guides:

Q is for quality quartz cleaner

Lots of conventional cleaner ingredients — including bleach — will damage your quartz countertops by breaking down the protective resins that keep them looking their best. Here’s how to conquer countertop-cleaning with quartz-safe cleaners.

  • Clean your quartz countertops daily to prevent stains and discoloration. The best quartz cleaner is a bit of mild dish soap dissolved in hot water. Soak your microfiber cloth, and give your counters a good scrub.
  • If your countertops are greasy, a natural degreaser will do the trick just as well as heavy-duty, conventional alternatives — but it won’t damage your finish.
  • To remove stains from your quartz countertop, scrub with a microfiber cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. Rinse with warm water.

R is for ravishing range hood

The top of your range hood collects dirt and grease faster than you can cook up a mess of bacon. Skip the powerful, poisonous degreasers, and turn a sticky, grimy range hood into a sparkling example of the magic of natural cleaners.

Step one

Spray the vent hood with natural, all-purpose cleaner. Let it sit for one minute, then wipe it down with a hot, wet microfiber cloth.

Step two

For stubborn grease spots, dissolve a little degreasing dishwashing liquid in some very hot water, and spray it on the hood. Use the microfiber cloth — rinse often in hot water! — and a little elbow grease to scrub it clean.

Step three

Wipe down the range hood every time you clean the countertops and stove — you’ll have a much easier time of deep-cleaning it later on.


Also read:

Refrigerator

Red wine stains

S is for scrubbing the stove

The stove is the workhorse of the kitchen, and it can get grubby fast. Here’s how to make it spotless.

Step one

For a gas stove, remove the grates and burner caps, and slide them into a sinkful of hot, soapy water. For an electric stove, remove the coils (they pull right out) and the drip pans. Set the coils aside, and put the drip pans in hot, soapy water to soak.

Step two

Wipe down the cooktop with a hot, damp microfiber cloth to remove loose debris. Use a pan scraper to dislodge stuck-on food. Spray the stove with natural, all-purpose cleaner, and let it sit for a minute before you scrub. If you need more cleaning power, slather on a 1:2 vinegar:baking soda paste, let it sit for 15 minutes, then scrub and rinse.

Step three

Clean gas burner heads with a damp microfiber cloth. Dip the cloth in straight vinegar to remove tough grime. Gently insert an open safety pin or the end of a paperclip into the burner holes where the gas comes out to remove gunk. To clean electric stove coils, dip an old toothbrush in hot, soapy water, and scrub. Rinse with a damp microfiber cloth.

Step four

Scrub the burner grates or drip pans. To remove tough grime, apply the vinegar and baking soda paste, let it sit for 15 minutes, then scrub and rinse. Return the clean components to the stove.

Read more

Shower curtain

Learn how to clean your shower curtain and liner using our fast and easy guide with step-by-step instructions.


Read More

Shower head

Give your shower a deep clean with our easy tips on how to clean a shower head, an oft overlooked bathroom area.


Read More

Silver

Discover the best tips on how to clean silver and ensure your items keep their shine and luster over time.


Read More

Sharpie stains

Read our tips for tackling a Sharpie stain, including the best natural techniques and tools to get the job done.


Read More

T is for tearing into the tile

Nothing bums out a tile floor like streaks or a cloudy film, but that’s what you get with some of the lesser quality conventional floor cleaners. If you want super-clean, shiny tiles, do it like this instead:

Step one

Vacuum the floor — or run a dry microfiber cloth over the wall — to remove dust and loose debris.

Step two

Clean the grout — see the letter G above. If you ain’t got time for that, or if your grout is already gorgeous, skip this step.

Step three

Remove stains with a damp microfiber cloth dipped in baking soda. For hard water stains or mold, make a paste of baking soda and vinegar, and smear it on. Let it sit as long as you can — overnight is good — then scrub with an old toothbrush, and rinse.

Step four

Clean and disinfect. In a spray bottle, mix a solution of 1:1 vinegar and water, and spray generously on the tile. Let it sit for 10 minutes so the vinegar has time to kill germs and loosen any old residue. Scrub with a damp microfiber cloth or mop, rinsing often until the water runs clean.


Also read:

Toilet

Travertine floors

U is for unsoiling upholstered furniture

If your couch and other upholstered furniture need freshening, resist reaching for the synthetic spray deodorizer, which is only a temporary — and unhealthy — fix. Instead, give your furniture a deep, natural clean that’ll last way longer.

Step one

Vacuum thoroughly with the upholstery attachment. May as well remove the cushions and hoover up all the old snacks down there while you’re at it.

Step two

Sprinkle baking soda over the upholstery — don’t be shy! — and let it sit for a half hour to absorb odors, dirt, and moisture. Vacuum thoroughly again with the brush attachment.

Step three

To remove stains, mix a 3:1 solution of water:vinegar and a squeeze of natural dish soap, and dip the corner of a microfiber cloth in the mix. Test the solution in an inconspicuous place, then dab gently at the stain until it’s gone.

V is for very clean vents

The exhaust vents in your kitchen and bathroom remove odors, toxins, and moisture produced by bathing and cooking. These vents get pretty gunked up over time, which means they won’t work as they should — and that’s a health and safety risk. So here’s how to clean them.

How to clean the bathroom exhaust vent

Step one

Turn off the electricity to the exhaust fan at the circuit breaker. Climb a ladder, and remove the vent cover: gently pull down on it, squeeze the exposed mounting wires, and pull them out of their slots. Soak the cover in a sinkful of hot, soapy water.


Step two

Vacuum the exposed fan and motor components with the crevice tool. If they’re grimy, clean them with a damp microfiber cloth. If it’s really bad news up in there, spray a little natural all-purpose cleaner on the cloth.


Step three

Scrub, rinse, dry, and replace the vent cover — slide the mounting wires back in their slots, and slowly push the cover into place. Turn the circuit breaker back on.

How to clean the kitchen stove exhaust vent filter

Step one

Fill the sink with boiling water, and stir in a few squirts of natural dish detergent and a half-cup of baking soda. Remove the vent filter under the range hood — it will slide or pop right out. Put it in the sink to soak for 15 to 30 minutes.


Step two

Use a hot, damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the underside of the range hood. If the grime requires something a little stronger, spray the cloth with natural, all-purpose cleaner or a dribble of natural dishwashing detergent. Rinse the cloth often as it accumulates grease.


Step three

Remove the filter from its bath, and give it a good talking to with a scrub brush under hot running water. Rinse, dry, and replace the filter.

GROVE HEALTH TIP

Say vamoose to volatiles at the source

Conventional body care products — shampoos, body washes, lotions, soaps, powders, cream, sprays — fill your bathroom air with a whole slew of unhealthy substances. While your vent removes many of these pollutants, using natural body and beauty products to begin with is a far safer alternative.Check out our Beginner's Guides to Natural for tips on making the switch.

W is for washing the windows

All-natural glass cleaners are 100-percent scented with essential oils and contain no phosphates, formaldehyde, parabens, or other harmful substances found in most conventional varieties. You can also use a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water for squeaky-clean, streak-free windows.

  • If your glass is grotesquely grimy, clean the worst of it with a wet cloth before spraying on the cleaner.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to clean glass — it’s super absorbent and helps prevent streaks.
  • Wipe the window in a continuous back-and-forth pattern — start at the top corner, and zig and zag your way down.
  • Wash your windows on a cloudy day — sunlight dries the cleaner prematurely, causing streaks.
  • Hard-water mineral residue can cause serious streaking. Instead, use distilled water to clean your glass.

X is for X-treme cleaning: Using X-ray vision to find hidden dirt

Some places in the home get neglected for months — or even years. And why not? It’s not like you ever come face-to-face with these spots. But if you like to know your home is clean — even where the sun don’t shine — add one of these tasks to your usual cleaning routine each week.

  • Under the cushions — remove cushions, beat them in the sun, vacuum underneath
  • Beneath heavy furniture — vacuum with the crevice tool, or move to clean underneath
  • In the backs of the cupboards — take everything out, check expiry dates, wipe down
  • On top of the fridge — put items away, wipe down
  • The broiler drawer — pull it out, empty the crumbs, scrub with a baking soda paste
  • Underneath rugs — take rugs outside, beat them in the sunshine, vacuum the floor and rugs
  • Inside the window sills — vacuum cobwebs, clean with a damp microfiber cloth
  • Behind the big appliances — pull it out, vacuum and wash the floor, wall, and appliance back
  • Under the sink — remove everything, vacuum thoroughly, wipe clean

For more oft-neglected places in your home that probably need some attention, be sure to read these helpful Grove articles:


House of Horrors: The most frightfully filthy places in your home — and how to clean them

COVID-19 cleaning: the germiest household items most people forget to clean

Y is for your yoga mat — and other exercise equipment

Your yoga mat (hopefully) sees a lot of barefoot and sweaty-palm action, so it’s only natural it would be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria that cause all sorts of ailments. Just as you always wipe down a loaner mat at the studio, you should wipe down your own mat after every session. Likewise your hand weights, treadmill, and whatever other equipment you use.

To clean your equipment:

Keep a spray bottle on hand with the usual 1:1 vinegar:water mixture, plus 10 or more drops of tea tree oil, which has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Spray your equipment after you use it, and wipe it down with a dry microfiber cloth. Wash the cloth each week.

Z is for zapping household pests naturally

Not every household pest deserves to die engulfed in a stinky fog of deadly poison. Some — like garden spiders and basement dwellers like crickets and roly polys — are mostly harmless. If you don’t want these friendly-but-creepy critters in your house, here are some ways to keep them out — poison-free.

Ants

Ant invasions happen, and when they do, you can put an end to it by leaving peppermint oil-infused cotton balls in the places you find them. If you’re hellbent on killing them, spray them with a 1:1 vinegar and water solution, and not the toxic stuff that comes in a can.

Spiders

Run-of-the-mill house spiders are extremely beneficial and perfectly harmless, but they’re not much to look at. Keep them away naturally by spraying your 1:1 vinegar and water solution around potential entry points and the places where you frequent upon them. They hate peppermint as much as they despise vinegar, so minty cotton balls will work, too.

Gnats

During dreaded gnat season, you have two choices: put up with them until they go away, or kill them dead. Lure them to a watery grave with this irresistible elixir: in a shallow bowl, combine a half cup of warm water, a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar, and six drops of liquid dish soap. Set it out — gnats’ll drop for a sip, get trapped by the soap, and meet their maker en masse.

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