These recipes are from Annie Berthold-Bond's book,

Better Basics for the Home

(Three Rivers Press, $18.95). For more information, go to



All-Purpose Window Cleaner

1/4 cup white distilled vinegar

1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent

2 cups water

A few drops essential oil, for scent (optional)

Makes 21/4 cups

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to blend. Spray on, then remove with a squeegee, paper towel or newspaper.

Basic Soft Scrubber Formula

1/2 cup baking soda

Enough liquid soap or detergent to make a frostinglike consistency

5 to 10 drops fragrant essential oil, such as 5 drops each rose and lavender (optional)

Makes 1/2 cup

Place the baking soda in a bowl; slowly pour in the liquid soap, stirring all the while, until the consistency reaches that of frosting. Add a few drops of essential oil. Scoop creamy mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, rinse.

Magic Mineral Cleaner

for Silver

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon baking soda

A few sheets of aluminum foil


Place the foil in a pan large enough to hold the silver pieces. Combine the salt and baking soda and add to the pan. Add water to cover and let sit for a couple of hours. Pour out the water; rinse the silver thoroughly in hot water and wipe dry with a soft rag. Do not use this cleaner for pieces that have parts joined by glue, such as candlesticks.

Berthold-Bond notes: "You can smell this formula work: The odor of rotten eggs is released as the tarnish is pulled off the silver."

Antiseptic Clove and Cinnamon Holiday All-Purpose Cleaner

1/2 teaspoon clove essential oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon essential oil

1 teaspoon washing soda

2 teaspoons borax

1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent

2 cups hot water

Makes 2 cups.

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake to dissolve and blend the minerals.

Berthold-Bond writes: "I like to spray this cleanser onto a surface, then leave it for 15 minutes or so before I wipe it up with a rag, to give the essential oil's antiseptic qualities time to work.