This Wednesday, Katie Kimball will share some of her easy routines for green & natural cleaning, so it seemed like a good time to re-run this post; it was originally published on February 19, 2010.
If you do a search for “natural homemade cleaners”, you will find about a gazillion results out there. So why am I trying to reinvent the wheel?
In a word, simplicity.
Contrary to what the cleaning aisle at the supermarket might say, you don’t need a lot of different specialty products to get your home clean. And when you look up homemade cleaners online, a lot of recipes call for many different ingredients for different types of cleaners. But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. With just a few basic items, you can do the vast majority of your household cleaning, save money, and keep your home free of the toxins found in many store-bought cleaning products.
White vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda are about to become your new best friend.
Here are a few recipes that will help you do most of your everyday cleaning.
All-Purpose Cleaning Spray:
For countertops, sinks, toilets, and for spot cleaning floors
Mix 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle. Spray and scrub.
For really tough soap scum or mineral deposits, warm the solution first, spray, and let sit before scrubbing, or use straight vinegar (but avoid straight vinegar on tile grout – it can cause the grout to break down).
Bathtub / Sink Scrub:
In a bowl, make a paste with baking soda, a squirt of your dish soap*, and a squeeze of lemon, to the consistency of frosting. Dip cloth or sponge into paste and scrub.
For really stubborn grime, allow to sit 10-15 minutes before rinsing.
Mirror & Glass Cleaner:
2 tsp vinegar
1 quart water
Mix in a spray bottle. Spray on mirror or glass, and wipe clean with old newspaper. (The ink doesn’t smear, and it leaves no lint!)
1/4 Cup dish soap*
1/2 Cup white vinegar or lemon juice
2 gallons warm water
Combine in sink or large bucket, and use with mop.
You can use this on any floor, unless the manufacturer has specified to avoid all detergents.
Photo by Scott Feldstein
Some other tips:
• Don’t use vinegar on marble – it can damage the surface.
• If you’re concerned about the smell of vinegar, you can always add a few drops of essential oil to your mix, but know that the odor of vinegar disappears as it evaporates.
• Vinegar is a disinfectant, but for raw chicken juice and other clean-ups involving bacteria, you will want something more powerful, like hydrogen peroxide. Read more.
• For really dirty toilets, you can shake in some baking soda in addition to using the all-purpose cleaning spray, and add a little lemon juice, too, if you like.
• If you don’t want to cut up fresh lemons, keep a squeeze bottle of lemon juice in your fridge. You can buy this, or make it yourself by squeezing some lemons ahead of time. If you buy it, make sure it only contains 100% lemon juice, with no added oils or essences.
• Use 100% cotton microfiber cloths for your cleaning – they will not leave lint behind, and you can throw them in the wash afterward and re-use them.
*About dish soap: when you purchase dish soap at the store, look for words like biodegradable, septic-safe, and non-toxic. Don’t buy anything that contains petroleum distillates or phosphates. Some good brands are Seventh Generation and Earth Friendly Products (this is what I use and I love it – it’s cheap and lasts forever).
These basic recipes should take care of 95% of your basic housecleaning needs. They will also save you money and most importantly, they are safe and non-toxic, so you and your family can rest easy.
Have you tried making your own cleaners? Please share your successes or failures!