Q: I hear it’s easy to make your own cleaning mixtures at home, but will they really kill germs?

– Mike, MN

A: This may come as a surprise, but you don’t need to sterilize every square inch of your home — and probably shouldn’t. All you need for an effective, full-house scrub are these simple ingredients: baking soda, borax, distilled white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, lemons, olive oil, vegetable-based castile soap (we like Dr. Bronner’s) and washing soda. And okay, maybe a bit of extra elbow grease to make up for the toxins you’re not dumping. The three germ-killers on the list are borax, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar, and yes, they work.

According to Michael Mullen, a spokesperson for Heinz, studies show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar will kill 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold and 80 percent of germs. For greener cleaning recipes, go to the Green Guide site and search for “cleaners.”

Story by Tobin Hack. This article originally appeared in Plenty in January 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.

Copyright Environ Press 2008