When Life Hands You Lemons – Clean Your House Chemical Free!

First off, I should have titled this post, “Who Is This Person?” I’m having a Twilight Zone moment, stepping sideways step from reality that I’m writing about house cleaning. However, as every Rental Manager knows, housekeeping basics are, well, basically, part of the job! Chemical cleaners work in a rush, but if you spend a lot of time around them, then they can punish your eyes and lungs, as well as your operating budget! Chemical free cleaners are cheaper. Really! Get rid of the grime, save a dime!

So, Andy, you’re up. Chest out, smile on, housekeeping 101 for Vacation Rental properties. Ready.

Natural CleanersPeople have been cleaning with household staples like vinegar, baking soda and lemons (or lemon juice) for a long time. And for Millennials (us old people do love you!) – a long time means before the 90s. Dude, that’s old!


Y’all know about my dislike of vinegar and all things pickled. Ugh! However, a few minutes of smelling like a chippie soon passes leaving a clean, neutral aroma with surfaces that sparkle and are germ free! Vinegar is not registered as a disinfectant with the EPA, however, the acidic wonder, vinegar, not only can wipe out tarnish, soap scum, mineral deposits, but distilled white vinegar creates an environment that inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, and some bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella (two nasty guests you do not want staying at your property), so says Jeffrey Hollender, author of Naturally Clean.

Here’s a few ideas for cleaning with distilled white vinegar (easily available at most grocery stores):


  1. Coffeemaker: run the machine with equal parts water and vinegar. Halfway through the cycle, turn it off and let it sit for an hour. Then complete the cycle.
  2. Blocked Drain: pour 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Rinse with water.
  3. Microwave: put one cup vinegar and one cup water in a bowl and microwave on high for about 10 minutes. Afterward, stains and dried food should be easy to wipe away.
  4. Dishwasher: to disinfect the interior of the machine, pour ½ cup vinegar into the reservoir and run an empty cycle. Or place a small bowl filled with vinegar on the bottom rack and run an empty cycle.
  5. Glassware: make it sparkle – put one cup of vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher before you run the cycle. After you run the dishwasher, your glassware shouldn’t be cloudy.
  6. Counter tops and floors: make them shine – fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and hot (not boiling) water. Spray and wipe. Warning – for all floors (laminate, hardwood, and marble/stone), test a small area first. Too strong a vinegar solution can strip the finish.

Bag On Shower Head


  1. Showerhead: remove mineral deposits from a showerhead. Put vinegar in a plastic bag and tie the bag around the showerhead. Let the bag sit overnight, and rinse the showerhead with water in the morning.
  2. Shower Stall: remove mildew in the shower. Spray vinegar on shower walls and curtains.
  3. Ceramic Tile: fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and hot (not boiling) water. Spray and wipe for a clean, shine.

Throughout The Home

  1. Windows and Glass Surfaces: mix one tablespoon of vinegar in a quart of water. Spray onto glass surfaces and wipe dry (newspaper works best).
  2. Moldy Walls: spray vinegar on the affected areas. After about 15 minutes, rinse and let dry thoroughly.
  3. Steam Iron: to get rid of mineral deposits, fill the iron with equal parts vinegar and water; press the steam button. Turn off, let cool, empty, and rinse.
  4. Remove Stickers: rub labels with vinegar, let sit for 10 minutes, then remove.
  5. Remove Skunk Odor From The Dog: scrub the fur with a half vinegar, half water solution and then rinse with water. Avoid the face, ears, and other sensitive areas!

Baking Soda

This simple product, easily available at most grocery stores can do more than keep your fridge smelling fresh and aid with baking. Its odor absorbing properties are useful throughout the home and it is capable of removing tough stains because of its abrasiveness. Additionally, baking soda is completely non-toxic and unlike vinegar, it doesn’t have a strong smell. Try out baking soda for some of these household cleaning tasks:


  1. Stains on Coffee and Tea Items: fill with one part baking soda and two parts water and let sit over night. Scrub and rinse in the morning.
  2. Odors in Food Containers: remove odors by rinsing with baking soda and water. Let sit overnight if necessary.
  3. Burned Food on Pots and Pans: sprinkle baking soda over the burnt areas, add hot water and let sit over night. Scrub in the morning.


  1. Brushes and Combs: soak in a baking soda/water solution.
  2. Shower Stall: remove mildew in the shower. Spray vinegar on shower walls and curtains.
  3. Ceramic Tile: fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and hot (not boiling) water. Spray and wipe for a clean, shine.

Throughout The Home

  1. Remove Odors on Upholstered Furniture, Carpets and Rugs: sprinkle the material with baking soda and then vacuum.
  2. Crayon Marks on Walls: put a baking soda paste of equal parts soda and water on the area, let dry and then wipe away. Works best on white walls – not recommended for colored walls.



My favorite! There’s a reason that plenty of cleaning supplies have citrus in them. Lemons are a natural disinfectant and stain remover because of their acidity. Bonus – lemons leave your house with a pleasant scent. Here are some common tasks that fresh lemons (or bottled lemon juice) are useful for:


  1. Stains, baked on grease, lime scale, water marks, rust stains, discolored grout… There is nothing in or outside of the home that a paste of lemon juice, baking soda, and cream of tartar (a natural bleaching agent) can’t attack! Great for cleaning the grill, faucets, the oven, refrigerators, etc.
  2. Furniture/wood spray: mix one teaspoon of lemon juice with one pint of vegetable oil, fill a spray bottle, and use for a clean, natural shine.