When it comes to cleaning the things you care about – your home, your car, your workspace – there are endless products that make big promises. Use this spray to completely eradicate mildew from your bathroom. Spritz this cleaner on surfaces to wage nuclear warfare on germs and bacteria.

If most of these products worked the way they claimed, no one would ever have a dirty home. Some of them do what they say they will, while others are just hype and crafty marketing. But there are some tried and true products that consistently deliver and are hiding right under your nose. In fact, you probably already have them in your home. 

If you don’t have a particular cleaner on hand, or you’re looking for a chemical-free option, turn to the natural alternatives. To help you find the best option, here are our picks of common household items you can use for exceptional green cleaning.

1) Lemon juice
Lemons are wonderful for adding an acidic bite to a recipe or for zesting into a cake batter. But people often forget the role they play in cleaning messes. Here’s why: the same citric acid that brightens up your risotto is also a tool for cutting through stains caused by other acids. 

Lemons are one of the most acidic of all citrus fruits, so it’s more effective than, say, grapefruits or oranges. Its juices are also antibacterial, so you can fight bacteria while you’re cleaning stains.

2) Baking soda
If you’re a baker, you’ve definitely used baking soda before to give your cakes and muffins a nice rise. But this should be a staple in your home even when you’re not baking. Baking soda helps to cut through grease and grime when mixed with an acid or warm water. It’s an effective option for dirty sinks or pots and pans that have burnt grease stains. 

It’s also a great way to eliminate odors. That’s why you’ll often see an open box of baking soda in refrigerators. If you have a pet in the home who’s making a mess of your carpet, you can sprinkle baking soda before you vacuum to aid in neutralizing the smell.

3) White vinegar
White vinegar is another acid on this list that helps to clean stains and fight bacteria. The reason this is such a good option is that it’s inexpensive and you can buy it in bulk. When you need a large amount of cleaning agent for a big job, white vinegar should be your go-to. It’s a clear liquid, so it won’t create a stain when you use it. It’s also a common substance to combine with baking soda in order to get the reaction you need for cleaning.

4) Hydrogen Peroxide
Accidents happen every day. Sometimes you create a stain that seems impossible to remove. Maybe you cut yourself and get blood on your favorite shirt, or knock over a glass of cabernet onto your white table runner. You may be tempted to call it a loss and get rid of the stained item.

Before you toss anything, try some hydrogen peroxide first. If you act quickly and pour the hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stain, it can create a magical reaction and lift the offending liquid right from the fibers. It’s also a great combatant against rust and water stains. 

5) Salt
Unless you really love bland food, you probably have salt in your home. But this ingredient is so much more than a garnish for your savory recipes. By using it in a solution with a liquid, it has the power to scrub away rust and grime, combat cookware grease, and lift fabric stains. Take that, pepper!

While we covered the greatest hits in this rundown of cleaning essentials, there are so many other items we didn’t get a chance to cover. From cornstarch to vodka, plenty of ingredients give store-bought items a run for their money. Next time you have a cleaning emergency, do some experimenting and give one of our suggestions a try!