To reduce your use of bleach while cleaning the bathroom, remember two other “B” words: borax and baking soda:

-Use baking soda as you would scouring powder. Rub with damp sponge, and rinse thoroughly.

-To clean grout, combine ½ cup baking soda, ¼ cup borax and hot water to form a thin paste. Scrub tile with mixture, then rinse.

-For stubborn rings in toilet, make a paste of borax and lemon juice. Apply to stain, let sit two hours, then scrub.

Also:

-You can remove toilet stains and rings with an old-fashioned pumice bar.

-To remove soap scum from fiberglass or glass, scrub with brush dipped in white vinegar.

-The oxygen bleaches are good alternatives to chlorine. They disinfect and can be mixed with other cleaning products.

-While cleaning the medicine cabinet, dispose of out-of-date medications. Place in sealed plastic bag with coffee grounds or cat litter and throw away.

-Disinfect switchplates and doorknobs.

-Microfiber cleaning cloths help you clean without harsh chemicals. After you shower, wipe down tiles and fixtures with a microfiber cloth. Remove gunk from the sink with microfiber.

-Polish chrome faucets with a few drops of olive oil on a dry rag. Spray with club soda and wipe dry.

Author Michael de Jong says you should “joyously give yourself up to cleaning,” and use familiar household ingredients. He shares ideas, and recipes, in “Clean: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing” (Sterling/Joost Eiffers Books, $7.95). Method, which lists the ingredients in its products, has introduced two new natural bathroom cleaners. Information: www.methodhome.com.


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