With cold and flu season starting, many of us are thinking about the best ways to keep our homes clean and disinfected. There are tons of products available on store shelves, but many of them have toxic properties in them. Fortunately, there are safe, natural, and effective cleaners to have on hand. 

Baking Soda: A paste of baking soda and water is one of the most effective weapons against caked dirt and grime on pots and pans, counter tops, grout, and much more. It has the added benefit of neutralizing odors, and cleaning out drains when you make a sink volcano with vinegar. 

Lemon: In addition to adding a refreshing aroma to the home, 1/2 a lemon sprinkled with baking soda is a great metal polish. Use it for brass, the copper bottoms on cookware, bronze, and aluminum. Or, ladies, heat 1 c of water in the microwave for a minute, sprinkle in 1 t of baking soda and the juice of a lemon, and soak your rings with a non-toxic, gentle and homemade jewelry cleaner. Squeezing the juice from half a lemon will also brighten your laundry. 

Distilled White Vinegar: No home should be without a gallon jug of distilled white vinegar. You can use it instead of a rinse agent for the dishwasher, or to pull dirt and stains from wooden cutting boards. It dissolves hard water scales, tarnish, and gummy residues. A mixture of vinegar with orange peels, marinated for a week or two, makes a great all-purpose cleaner, as -well. Adding a few drops of tea tree essential oil, which has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, adds an extra boost.