3 natural cleaning products you might not have considered

Try these weird but wonderful household cleaners that actually work.

Updated

halved potatoes on the countertop

We know about the benefits of vinegar, lemons and baking soda but there are other natural cleaning solutions out there. These quirky cleaning hacks will have you looking at those everyday basics with fresh eyes.

1. A potato is your best natural-cleaning friend

It might sound like an April Fool’s joke but potatoes are one of the best environmentally friendly cleaning products around. Versatile and effective, they can tackle a host of scouring tasks:

  • Cut a raw potato in half and rub onto glass windows. If necessary buff with a clean, soft cloth afterwards (and when you’re done indoors, check out our guide to cleaning your outside windows).
  • Potatoes are rust destroyers. They contain an acid that dissolves iron oxides – just massage one into any iron-based items you have. For truly obstinate rust, dip the potato in baking powder first.
  • Like toothpaste (see below), spuds are good for cleaning silver. Just rub a cut one onto the tarnished area, or boil up a pot of potatoes and dip your silverware into the used water for an hour or so.

2. Olive oil isn’t just for salads

Another weird-sounding idea, but olive oil is also an effective natural cleaner that works well on numerous surfaces. Try it for:

  • Cleaning wood – you only need a few drops on a cloth to bring the shine back to your wooden furniture (it’s also good on leather chairs).
  • Seasoning your patio furniture. Again, you don’t need much. Just wipe it down now and again to prevent the wood from drying out.
  • Removing paint from your hands (or anywhere else you happen to get it). Rub a few drops of oil into your skin and let it rest for a few minutes before washing off with soapy water. (If you need to remove paint from wood, we have three methods to try here.)
  • Buffing stainless steel – get a deep and satisfying shine simply by working the oil in with a cloth.
pot with olive oil and cleaning cloth on wooden worktop

3. Toothpaste is your secret household cleaner

Well, it does a good job of cleaning your teeth, so why not the rest of the house? Toothpaste contains abrasives, such as calcium carbonate and aluminium oxides, which operate to break down the plaque on your teeth. It’s these ingredients that also make it an effective eco-friendly cleaner around your home. As a bonus, it might include baking soda, which is also a great natural cleaner.

Toothpaste can be put to work in multiple ways. For instance:

  • Left on a carpet for a few minutes it will work out food- and ink-based stains.
  • Likewise, it’s good when rubbed into dirty spots on clothing (use a wet cloth to wipe off if you’re not washing the garment).
  • It’s good for wiping down walls after the kids have got hold of crayons or felt-tip pens.
  • Use it for cleaning and polishing up copper pots, silver jewellery and other silverware. Rub the paste on with a soft cloth – make sure you remove it all or rinse well with warm water afterwards.
  • It can help smooth out (small) scratches on a mobile phone screen. Use a tiny amount and then wipe clean with a damp cloth.
  • Rub a small amount into your hands if you can’t get rid of a nasty onion or fish smell. Then thoroughly rinse off.
female hand holding white toothpaste tube on yellow background

Originally published